The Best Way to Build Confidence

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The topic of confidence comes up for me from time to time in different conversations – whether  someone walks up to me and asks bluntly: “Where in the world do you find the confidence for speaking publicly with your accent?” or people genuinely want to know how to build the confidence for job interviews, business presentations or any other important professional or social settings.

First of all, let me make one thing clear: I am still working on mine. Even though I learned to accept my accent as a part of who I am, building my confidence further is still work in progress. It’s a continual process that does not have an end date, just like developing any other skill or gaining new knowledge. And secondly, in my experience, confidence is something that goes hand in hand with another equally important concept, which is your competence. Simply speaking, work on growing your competence in the field of your choice – and that will help you feel and appear more confident.

There is a lot of other advice out there on how to boost confidence. Don’t get me wrong, some of it is really great – such as stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to do new things; dreaming big and visualizing yourself confidently making your dreams come true. I believe in the power of positive thinking and am convinced that exercising it every day is beneficial.

I have also happened to witness “coaching” methods that promise skyrocketing self-assurance through an instant rise to stardom using paid celebrity affiliations and other questionable strategies. Even if those methods do bring you, at best, the 15 minutes of fame you may be craving, the momentary shot of confidence that comes with it will most likely evaporate as soon as the rah-rah effect dies down. Without the knowledge and the wisdom behind the façade, instead of the true confidence, you may end up with a false bravado, and it will become increasingly difficult to keep up the pretenses.

In order to develop the lasting confidence that you need for representing your most important brand – you, a single most impactful step you can take is to build, continually raise and expand your competency levels.

How to build your competence

Here are some actions you can take to keep yourself educated and they are not too complicated or cumbersome:

  • Read books and articles in your field to stay on top of the latest technical knowledge and the know-how;
  • Attend seminars, take reputable degree or non-degree courses, including online programs that are easier to make the time for;
  • Obtain industry certifications, from recognized institutions. Mine are from ASQ, yours could be from any other professional association applicable to your area;
  • Develop your soft-skills, humans’ main advantage over robots, who are much closer than they seem;
  • Find a mentor or join a mastermind group if you want to step up your game.


I use my downtime to periodically reassess my competencies. This helps me analyze where I am at and to see any knowledge gaps I need to fill in order to keep up and to move forward. My downtime might fall on the Christmas holidays when work is slower. Yours could be any other time depending on where you are at in your life. Is it the summer months when your children are away at a camp? Is it when you are between projects or jobs? Is it during the school breaks when your students are off? It could also be whenever you carve it out for yourself. You can take big steps or small, but the fact that you know you are periodically evaluating your status quo, expanding your boundaries, continually growing and developing as an expert, will give you a lot more of genuine confidence and poise than any other tips.

Through the ups and downs of the economy as well as through the turns of your personal journey, staying competent will help you remain relevant which in its turn will serve as a great source of confidence even in the face of adversity.

Share in the comments your tips on boosting your confidence. We would love to hear what works and what does not work for you.

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  1. It was interesting for me to hear that discussions have actually been had tying your accent directly to your confidence or lack thereof when speaking in front of an audience Natella. Until today I have never thought of the way you communicate as a barrier that would affect either your belief in yourself or how I and others perceive you. Your message is too important to worry about the method of which it’s delivered. For me, there is a direct correlation between learning from my failures as well as my successes in the building of my confidence. Being confident doesn’t mean that failure is impossible but it does prevent my fear of failure from overriding my ability to complete the task at hand. In order to achieve the great things that life has to offer, at certain times you have to take great risks. Having confidence in myself and my abilities helps to minimize those risks and increase my chances of success.

    1. Hi Jason, your message here is so timely! Interesting you mention that having confidence doesn’t mean failure is impossible. Sometimes even I can’t help it and see my failures as setback more than anything else. Great reminder about learning both from success and failures for building our confidence.

  2. You are absolutely right Natella, in order to increase your confidence you need to work on your knowledge. Confidence and competence go hand in hand.

    1. In my experience this is not necessarily true all the time. Through the many years of my work experience in the corporate world, I had to witness some extremly confident candidates with very limited knowledge in their subject areas. Still find it difficult to understand the source of their confidence 🙂 but it was not their competency.

      1. It’s interesting that you should mention this, Alan. I am familiar with this confident unawareness that you are describing. In fact, I myself had known a few people who fit this definition. Recently I came across the scientific name for this phenomenon – turns out, it’s called Dunning-Kruger Effect. People with this cognitive bias are incompetent at something but are unable to recognize their own incompetence. Moreover, they feel confident as if they are actually competent. I hope it all makes sense to you :).

  3. I have never heard about it either. Thank you very much, Natella, for such a useful post and such an informative comment

  4. Confidence plays an essential part in a human’s life. Nobody is born with an inbuilt sense of self-confidence. Building it is a long process that requires years of effort and work. I completely agree with you, Natella, that one of the main steps in improving one’s self-confidence is to work hard on enhancing his or her knowledge.

    1. Good to hear from you again Melissa. Even though some people seem to naturally have more confidence than others, we can’t just rely on being born with it. It is our job to work on developing it.