When I was a child I used to associate confidence with the ability to speak up. However, as I grew older I came to realize that speaking up has nothing to do with it. After all, those people who boast about themselves, their achievements, and their skills are not necessarily confident. They could be just making noise in order to hide their true colors.
So in my personal quest to define confidence, I have come to realize what confidence is not. A confident person is not someone who needs to give their two-cents about every topic under the sun. Because, true confidence comes from the realization of our own imperfections and our willingness to admit that we don’t know everything.
Unfortunately, we come from a society that has taught us to associate confidence with competence. So, in the last 15 years I did deal with the colleagues who feel that they need to prove themselves by using big words and references that are too technical for the person not in their field. I also dealt with the manager who refuses to hear an explanation from a specialist who is not in the same managerial rank. And, of course I dealt the friend who needs to interrupt every conversation just to talk about his or her personal experience on a given topic. I wouldn’t call these people confident because confidence comes from the ability to listen and not only talk.
Confidence is also not about being loud or speaking with excessive gestures and animation. We often hear people say the words “Wow he is a confident speaker” usually to describe someone who is a one-man theatrical performance.
In fact, people who are loud are raising the pitch and volume of their talks, just to hide their nervousness. I know that from personal experience, because I used to do the same when I first started with public speaking.
When I started out as a Toastmaster, I used always talk about simple topics and I would fill my talks with jokes just to hide the fact that I’m nervous. In fact I used to be known as the girl with funny speeches and in these speeches I would just make fun of both life and myself. But with time, I realized that I have something more substantial to say.
This point hit me especially when someone came up to me after a meeting and said “I would love to see you being serious for once.”
I realized then that I am acting like a walking bumper sticker. Sure, I like to joke and I am as sarcastic as sarcastic can be, but I am also someone with dreams interests and more substance than that.
When I decided to make that change, I got very nervous at first. I was no longer armed with the theatrics. But, with time I learned that being myself with all the good and bad and ugly it comes with is both easier and more fulfilling. So, a confident person is someone who doesn’t fear being themselves and a person talking with confidence is someone who discusses topics that are important to him/her.
All in all, I have come to the conclusion that true confidence is not about seeking perfection. It is not even about being notched or remembered. True confidence, to me, is the ability to state our strengths and weakness, to ask questions, and to not fear being true to ourselves. If we master these skills, we become confident people even if we dispense with the louder theatrical performance and the lavish knowledge display.
Food for thought