Confidence takes many forms, from the arrogance of Floyd Mayweather to the quiet self-assurance of Jane Goodall. True confidence—as opposed to the false confidence people project to mask their insecurities—has a look all its own.
When it comes to confidence, one thing is certain: truly confident people always have the upper hand over the doubtful and the skittish because they inspire others and they make things happen.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right."
Ford’s notion that your mentality has a powerful effect on your ability to succeed is manifest in the results of a recent study at the University of Melbourne that showed that confident people went on to earn higher wages and get promoted more quickly than anyone else.
Learning to be confident is clearly important, but what is it that truly confident people do that sets them apart from everyone else?
I did some digging to uncover the 12 cardinal habits of truly confident people so that you can incorporate these behaviors into your repertoire.
1. They Get Their Happiness from Within
Happiness is a critical element of confidence, because in order to be confident in what you do, you have to be happy with who you are.
People who brim with confidence derive their sense of pleasure and satisfaction from their own accomplishments, as opposed to what other people think of their accomplishments. They know that no matter what anyone says, you’re never as good or as bad as people say you are.
2. They Don’t Pass Judgment
Confident people don’t pass judgment on others because they know that everyone has something to offer, and they don’t need to take other people down a notch in order to feel good about themselves. Comparing yourself to other people is limiting. Confident people don’t waste time sizing people up and worrying about whether or not they measure up to everyone they meet.
3. They Don’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Confident people know that saying no is healthy, and they have the self-esteem to make their nos clear. When it’s time to say no, confident people avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” They say no with confidence because they know that saying no to a new commitment honors their existing commitments and gives them the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
4. They Listen More than They Speak
People with confidence listen more than they speak because they don’t feel as though they have anything to prove. Confident people know that by actively listening and paying attention to others, they are much more likely to learn and grow. Instead of seeing interactions as opportunities to prove themselves to others, they focus on the interaction itself, because they know that this is a far more enjoyable and productive approach to people.
5. They Speak with Certainty
It’s rare to hear the truly confident utter phrases such as “Um,” “I’m not sure,” and “I think.” Confident people speak assertively because they know that it’s difficult to get people to listen to you if you can’t deliver your ideas with conviction.
6. They Seek Out Small Victories
Confident people like to challenge themselves and compete, even when their efforts yield small victories. Small victories build new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation. The increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases their confidence and eagerness to tackle future challenges. When you have a series of small victories, the boost in your confidence can last for months.
7. They Exercise
A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. They also rated their body image and self-esteem higher. Best of all, rather than the physical changes in their bodies being responsible for the uptick in confidence, it was the immediate, endorphin-fueled positivity from exercise that made all the difference.
8. They Don’t Seek Attention
People are turned off by those who are desperate for attention. Confident people know that being yourself is much more effective than trying to prove that you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what, or how many, people you know. Confident people always seem to bring the right attitude.
Confident people are masters of attention diffusion. When they’re receiving attention for an accomplishment, they quickly shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help get them there. They don’t crave approval or praise because they draw their self-worth from within.
9. They Aren’t Afraid to Be Wrong
Confident people aren’t afraid to be proven wrong. They like putting their opinions out there to see if they hold up because they learn a lot from the times they are wrong and other people learn from them when they’re right. Self-assured people know what they are capable of and don’t treat being wrong as a personal slight.
10. They Stick Their Necks Out
When confident people see an opportunity, they take it. Instead of worrying about what could go wrong, they ask themselves, “What’s stopping me? Why can’t I do that?” and they go for it. Fear doesn’t hold them back because they know that if they never try, they will never succeed.
11. They Celebrate Other People
Insecure people constantly doubt their relevance, and because of this, they try to steal the spotlight and criticize others in order to prove their worth. Confident people, on the other hand, aren’t worried about their relevance because they draw their self-worth from within. Instead of insecurely focusing inward, confident people focus outward, which allows them to see all the wonderful things that other people bring to the table. Praising people for their contributions is a natural result of this.
12. They Aren’t Afraid to Ask for Help
Confident people know that asking other people for help won’t make them seem weak or unintelligent. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they look to others to fill the gaps. They also know that learning from someone with more expertise is a great way to improve.
Bringing It All Together
Building confidence is a journey, not a destination.
A version of this article first appeared on TalentSmart.com.