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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Confidence & Comfort Zones | My Tips for a more confident you!


oo...got to love a good Pinterest quote. Last week, I had a rather interesting conversation with an old friend from work. Without going into too much detail, she told me about how she was really struggling with her confidence and was finding it a bit of a struggle in a new job after a few other major changes in her life.  She's always been a quieter person - (I remember it took me a couple of cups of tea to crack her into a full blown conversation) but I never thought for one minute she'd ask me for a bit of advice.  I am not the most confident person on the planet, let me tell you.  But I have learnt a few things as I've tottled along in life that have become rather helpful to me when it comes down to being a little more outspoken and 'up front' - whether it be at work, presentations at uni or any situation that could sometimes seem a little 'daunting'. I wouldn't class myself as being shy nor overly confident - just 'normal' I guess - I don't struggle too much with new people or speaking up, but I did come up with a few little tips for her that can come in handy with new situations and they're things that can apply to even the most confident among you.  

First off, I really hate how people sometimes define the word 'confidence'.  At school, the 'shy' people are always picked out like it's a bad thing to be a little more introverted and if you don't speak up in class then it means you aren't 'engaging' in a lesson. But you don't need to be a typical class clown/loud mouth/bully to have confidence whatsoever - you don't need to shout from the rooftops or crack jokes at every stranger you see.  I can tell you now from my school experience (going back a bit now but I'm sure a lot of you will agree) that people like this often turn out to be the ones with the most insecurities. It's worth remembering that even the most confident people get a little nervous or scared sometimes. They might not admit it, but they do. I think everybody has a certain 'situation' that makes them feel as if they've lost their voice a little and it's important to remember that feeling a little shy sometimes is perfectly normal and above all it's perfectly fine.  It just helps a little to know how to push yourself into breaking that imaginary 'barrier' in your head.  I thought I'd share a few things that I believe have helped me over the years to become a more confident person...


Consider a job in retail or 'customer service'

My first 'proper' job (after pottering about doing admin work and office based stuff for family) was in retail. In fact, I've only just recently left after roughly 5 years and although I can't tell you I enjoyed it thoroughly, I liked the fact that it allowed me to grow so much as a person and I've taken a lot of good things away from it - skills that have proven so valuable to me both at uni and in life in general.  Any job or work experience you have is good - but I can say I definitely felt thrown in at the deep end when i started my job as it was so customer driven.  Although I worked in a shop, it was very 'customer focused' and sometimes quite sales-y.  We were told from day one to make conversation with every customer, think about speaking positively and being aware of using any negative statements - you get the jist (yes, sorry I was one of those annoying sales assistants that asks you if you're OK or 'just browsing' about 50,0000 times).  And although I sometimes hated it I had to try and deal with some pretty irate folk at times (pairs of wellies never caused so much drama!), I learnt to engage with people of all kinds - old, young, deaf, blind, friendly, rude, charming, sarcastic... the list goes on and on.  I also learnt how to deal with conflict and how best to diffuse awkward situations in the best way I could, and I learnt how to tailor my speech to people depending on their age or needs (the role often meant sitting with people for a good 20 minutes or so - so trying your best to keep a conversation going was vital and I learnt a lot of good tips!)  It sounds silly - almost every job involves this somehow - but the strong customer service side of things really did force me to become more sociable and less worried about what people thought of me. I learnt to build a rapport with people within seconds. Even the most moody people will crack a smile at you if you just try with them.  If I ever got a rude customer and I was in a really productive mood, I'd challenge myself to see if I could turn their frown around by the time they walked out!

Fake it until you make it!

I remember when I was at school and hearing Beyonce telling an interviewer that she has an alter-ego in her head when she's on stage.  I'm not saying pretend you're someone else, always be yourself, but it's true that acting a little bit works.  Remember when you were a young'un and you told little white lies over and over until you actually believed them yourself? A really good tip is to just act like you're fine in the situation - once you've done it a couple of times, you'll realise that it's not that bad after all.  It takes practice, but just think of it as a little 'performance' in your head. I did this with job interviews and presentations until I realised that actually, I was completely fine without acting it at all - by then, I'd learnt that I could do it anyway.

Visualise a situation going well

I'm awful with this one, i'll admit.  If I'm feeling nervous about something, I will think about it and mull it over and over until I've terrified myself to the point where I just want to back out.  I know it's hard - but the more you nip it in the bud and imagine positive thoughts - the more likely it is that the situation will go well.  I sometimes even visualise things I might say, or do - if it's an important presentation I just tell myself over and over that I've done it before, it hasn't gone wrong once and that this time is no different.  What is the worst that can happen?

Remember - Nobody Cares!

How many times have you spoken to someone you don't know too well and said something a little bit daft, or embarrassed yourself in some way? I know I have! Sometimes I think 'why did I just say that?!' - but it's important to remember that people just don't care.  Even if they do, they will have a little snigger and forget all about it 5 minutes later.  If you're ever feeling self conscious just remember that people are thinking more about themselves than what you're saying or doing.  Other people don't analyse your actions as much as you will do.

Speak to strangers. Brighten someones day.

If going all out into situations you aren't comfortable with terrifies you, then take baby steps.  Speak to the lady at the till instead of opting for the self-service.  Say hello to the bus driver even if they're miserable (I'm on first name terms with a good few now...). I remember when I was having a bad day at work it was lovely when a customer said something nice.  For example, if you like the girl's nail polish who's serving you in a shop - tell her and ask her what it is! It's so easy to just say - 'oo I love your nail polish, what is it?' - asking a question is key as it provokes conversation back and avoids awkwardness. (I often do this - I actually found one of my favourite hair products by asking a girl in H&M how she styled her hair - she looked really happy I was interested... It's nice to spread a few happy vibes now and again).

Smile.

Shyness is more often than not mistaken for ignorance. It's a shame but it's very true. I always remember this if I'm ever feeling a little wobbly.  Even if you don't want to say anything, just have a positive mind and smile at people.  Make eye contact. Little things make a big difference and don't take a lot of bravery at all :) 

Inner confidence.

If you want to be a more confident person, the first step is to learn to love who you are. Yes, it's a cliche. But this cliche is somewhat true. What are your good points? So what if you're not the best talker - what are you good at? Focus on your talents. So what if you're a little quiet sometimes? As I've said - it is not a bad thing.  I like to be quiet sometimes - nobody likes a cocky so and so! 

The conversation 'bank'

If you're going to an event or situation where you don't know many people, it's worth compiling your own little 'bank' of conversation starters or things to say.  What would you like to be asked? What interesting things could you tell someone about you? Everyone likes to talk about themselves - that's a fact - if you ask someone a question about their life they will answer you with enthusiasm - i bet. Similarly, if you need to phone someone and are worried about getting words muddled, it helps to write down what you want to say before you pick up the handset.   

My '10 minute' rule.

If you're having a class discussion, or are in a meeting at work or you have a group interview - have some form of input at the beginning and make your opinion/presence known.  It's a known fact that the longer you leave things, the harder they get - so it pays to speak up in situations like this within the first 10 minutes.  Even if you don't feel like saying much after this and prefer to just take in what others are saying - that's fine.  Little contributions go a long way.


And so there we have it - these are just things I've done since I was younger in order to make myself a more confident person. There's a balance between confident and 'cocky' that's for sure - remember that you don't have to be a loud mouth Larry to feel confident in yourself. I definitely have been a more outgoing person the past 5 years, and I truly believe it's because I made such a focus on it since my later years of school.  It doesn't come in the wave of a magic wand (how nice would that be?) but it does come gradually and the more you do these things, the easier they will become and the more natural they begin to be.  I don't think twice about certain things I used to be a bit nervous of before and I'd genuinely describe myself as a fairly confident person these days. Of course, I still get nervous/shy sometimes but if I ever do then I often use a few of these tips here and find that in a short amount of time, I feel fine again. I guess it helps i've always loved to talk and have a natter but even if it doesn't come naturally to you then just work on it. People will make opinions of you whether you or quiet or not, so why not just be yourself and throw caution to the wind once in a while?  Above all - always remember that people just don't care if you mess up or if you say something silly because they are too busy thinking about themselves (as you are!)  If something doesn't go well - then try again.  Surround yourself with family and friends and have a good support network around you and I promise you that you can get through any situation eventually. Even if you're not naturally a chit-chatty person that's fine - remember that - the key is to think positive, smile, appear approachable and believe in yourself a little more... (and plunge yourself in at the deep end sometimes - it does you good. Promise :))

If all else fails - just smile through it As good ol' Roald Dahl once said 'If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely' - now how's that for motivational, eh?


What are your tips for feeling confident? 


50 comments:

  1. Great post, really lovely to read. I worked in retail for years and never really appreciated what it actually did for me, taught me a lot! I think believing in yourself is key for confidence, even if it isn't that easy!

    Belle x
    Mascara & Maltesers

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    1. Hi Belle! Thankyou - I never appreciated what it did for me either as i was too focused on not liking the job and feeling like i was stuck in a rut - but thinking back, it taught me so much. Believing in yourself is definitely key. :) xx

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  2. Yet another fantastic post - love love love your blog babe!
    I wrote a similar-ish post regarding body confidence, which took a lot of nerve for me to publish. It wasn't an easy thing to do but with the boost from from other bloggers, my friends and sheer self determination i did it.
    Please have a read http://sadexcuseofagirl.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/facing-your-demons.html :) xxx

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    1. Thanks so much Sarah! :)
      Oo i shall pop on over for a read! I love posts like that - always love reading what people have to say. xxx

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  3. I loved this post! I always struggle with confidence, I find working in a customer facing role to be really helpful, but outside work I'm so shy! I'll definitely be trying to incorporate these tips now. x

    www.crazylins.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Hi Anya - I found that too at first - but gradually started to use the skills i learnt at work and applied them day to day. Took some time but i got there in the end. :) x x

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  4. Such a lovely post! :) Really like what you have to say, and I think you expressed it really well :)
    http://jasminebloombeauty.com

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  5. Great post! I agree what you said about working in customer service! It really helps you grow as a person :)


    Sarah | More Than Adored

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    1. thanks so much Sarah! I'm glad people agree about the customer service thing - it helped me no end :) x

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  6. I love this post! I agree so much about getting a job: before starting mine, I could barely start up a conversation with people I didn't know but now it's so much easier - dealing with people every day teaches you how to make the best out of a situation. Giving people compliments is a really nice thing to do as well - plus if you find a new nail polish or outfit inspiration, it makes both of you happy xx
    www.LaurasHaven.com

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    1. Hi Laura, thanks so much! I was the same before i worked there.. it really pushed me. I agree with the compliment thing! There's no way it can really go wrong as both people come away feeling a little brighter :) xx

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  7. I really loved this post, I have always lacked confidence and been really shy and found this post really helpful. I think getting a job in customer service could really help me, thank you :)

    www.polkadotsandlipgloss.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Hi Christina,
      I promise you it will help. It's hard at first (i was close to quitting on my first day!) but after about a month you find you fall into it and learn your own way of doing things/approaching people. It will stick with you for the rest of your life.
      Thanks for the comment :) I hope it helps! x

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  8. Thank you for this. I think that people (like me) often get labelled as insecure when that isn't the case. I think for me over time I have come so far but I still struggle with large crowds.
    Hannah
    girl-plus-world.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Hi Hannah. I think insecure is completely the wrong word and it isn't the case at all. Quiet doesn't equal insecure. I'm not a fan of large crowds either - i dont know many people who are :)I think you can just be a quietly confident person sometimes! :) x

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  9. I love this post ! Iv always been a shy person and at school guarenteed every parents evening almost every teacher would say about how quiet i am and it would always annoy me when people would ask me why i am so shy and quiet ! Iv always felt it held me back a bit but when i got my first job when i was talking to customers i got more used to having a converstaion with someone i have never met before and i really enjoyed it , it's really helped me although i think i will always be shy :)

    Beautiful Dreams

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    1. Hi Carys :) Thanks for your comment! I had a few friends who used to get picked/singled out for being too quiet all the time and it used to really get on my nerves as they were such good students - wasnt fair to pick on a personality trait! I agree - ive gained so much more confidence since working in a customer-facing job and its really helped me too x

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  10. I just love this post so much I read it twice haha! I hate when people comment on shyness and quietness as if it's a bad thing. I've definitely got more confident in the last few years just by forcing myself to speak up in these situations and it really does help. It's all about practise I think :)

    xxx
    www.maisymeow.com

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    1. Aww this made me smile! :) Made my day that you read it twice! Definitely all about practice and forcing yourself to try things you arent too comfrtable with at first x x

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  11. I absolutely love this post Beth! So interesting to read and you really do have some good tips! Xx

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    1. Thanks so much Vanessa - glad you found some good tips x

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  12. Amazing post Beth, so many great tips! I'm a very shy person, especially around new people, and it can come across that I'm being rude but it's just that sometimes I don't know what to do or say! Nerves definitely get the best of me most of the time haha. I'll definitely keep some of these tips in mind :) Thank you for writing this post xx

    belle-amiebeauty.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Hi Amie, thankyou :)! Glad you found my post of some use :) It really does work - the key is to just practice and keep at it. It all gets better with time and the more you do it the easier it is x

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  13. What a nice post :) It's such a sweet idea sharing something that can be quiet personal with so many other people that probably feel the same you do. I think they are great tips and I love the final quote 'If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely' ..fantastic!

    Ila x

    http://cleanserblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Hi Ila. Thankyou for your comment :) Yes - i personally dont suffer too much with shyness but i know a lot of people who do and know how much it can stop people doing want they want to do in life as it holds them back. Haha its a good quote isnt it! xx

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  14. This is a really helpful post, thankyou for writing it, definitely agree that working in a job that involves customer service really helps, I used to be extremely shy, I would go for days without saying a single word when I was at school and I actually got taken the mick out of constantly for being too quiet and now I work in a cafe chatting to customers at the till all day and I actually enjoy it. This post came at a good time for me as I'm new job hunting in a new city this week and I was getting nervous so I'll definitely keep these tips in mind, really love that last quote too :)
    Rosalie x
    RosalieJayne

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    1. It's so true that working in that environment only helps to push you further isn't it? I used to love having conversations with some of my customers (the jollier the better!) and i dont bat an eyelid now about having a bit of banter with a stranger ;) ah yess im not good with new jobs/change - especially in other cities so i can imagine youre feeling a bit nervous! Good luck - i bet you will be just fine :) <3 x x

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  15. this is such an amazing post, thank you!
    I struggle with confidence a LOT and like u said; when u don't speak out a lot in class the teachers think you're not interested.... and because of that i always get worse grades than I actually should.

    i think your tips are really helpful and I will think of them more often now.

    thank you! x

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    1. Yep! Its stupid people get marked down for not participating as much - its a personality trait not a problem with understanding the subject at all.
      Glad you found my tips helpful :) hopefully they will come in handy x

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  16. This is a really great post. I agree about speaking to people in shops. Especially if you're a regular customer, my favourite customers are the ones that know me by name.

    Hayley
    Water Painted Dreams
    xxx

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    1. It always made me smile when people referred to me by my name - brightens up the day a little :) x

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  17. This is a really helpful post,great gems of wisdom in it.I will certainly sending a few of my friends your way to read this. I have a quick question for you. Did you just download those images off of Pinterest and upload them on the blog? I'm wondering as I'd love to imclude a few quotes from Pinterest in an upcoming post,but am worried about copyright. Many Thans, Clodagh

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    1. Thankyou! :) I just saved the picture to my folders and uploaded them to blogger :) To be honest I've just realised i havent linked back - but it should be ok. Try link it back if you can :) I will have to pop one on quick! xx

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    2. Will do, thanks very much x

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  18. Great post, really helpful! I lack confidence all together and I have an interview tomorrow, I'm dreading it so much! I'll have to try a few of these tips out!
    Thanks!
    I do blog posts of a Friday on my favourite blog posts of the week, mind if I add this one in?

    Danielle xo || Lilyofthevalley

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    1. Hi Danielle :) Thanks so much :) I hope your interview went well? :) Of course you can add it in! Thats so kind of you :) xxx

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  19. lovely post! very intersting to read, you have great writing skills xx

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  20. great post beth, you have a lovely blog :) xxx

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  21. I seriously love this post! It relates to me at the moment.. I had a job interview for retail the other day and I got a bit nervous..at the start of the interview I thought to myself, why be nervous? they're just the same as me!

    Such a helpful post!
    x

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  22. I love your blog!!
    ..now following!

    charlottechristmas.blogspot.co.uk

    Charlotte xo

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  23. This is just the most lovely blog post beth, I love how much thought and effort and personality you put into these chatty posts. This all rings so true with me as well, I can be confident with people I know like me and then as soon as someone acts a bit off towards me I really worry about what they think of me and shrink away from the situation. I also think I need to use a bit of 'fake it till you make it' in job interviews, I'm so worried about starting my career after uni but this has inspired me to believe in myself a bit more! Xxx

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  24. Hi! This is a great post, it's lovely to read and you can tell you put so much into it. I don't mean to be annoying since I know people probably ask you this all the time, but it would mean the world to me if we could follow each other via bloglovin'! Let me know :)
    xx Kristina
    succhisimples.com

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  25. Great post, and written with such positivity and enthusiasm :-)

    I feel like I've had a mini pep-talk.. ready to face the world! ;-)

    Miriam

    missmiriamalice.blogspot.co.uk/

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  26. I love this post!! :) great advice! x

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  27. I love this post. I struggle with my confidence at times and this post is so helpful. I'll definitely be using these tips.
    Beth x
    chroniccosmetics.wordpress.com

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  28. Great post, I used to be really bad with confidence until I took the plunge and got a new job in a city 2 hours away from me that I had never even been too. I had only just passed my driving test and had to drive there and back and knew NOONE in the city let alone who I was working with etc. I was petrified! But everything happens for a reason, 3 years on i'm so much more confident, I moved to that city & met my boyfriend and we now have a daughter together. I couldnt be happier or more confident! :) X

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  29. love those wise little quotes - sometimes they make a lot of difference and give me the much needed motivation to carry on xo

    Check out my new outfit post on blog! :)
    A
    xx
    http://epiquemoi.blogspot.com

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I always read all of my lovely comments. Make sure you check back as i often reply but if you do have a specific question and want a quicker response then please do email me over at birds.words@yahoo.co.uk or tweet me (@Beth_BirdsWords). Thank you for all your support! x