How to Be More Socially Confident: 4 Tips for Success

This article gives you a glimpse of what you can learn with Shortform. Shortform has the world’s best guides to 1000+ nonfiction books, plus other resources to help you accelerate your learning.

Want to learn faster and get smarter? Sign up for a free trial here .

Do you want to improve your social confidence? What are some things you can do to feel more comfortable and confident in social situations?

People who are comfortable in social situations have the best chance of establishing beneficial relationships and creating opportunities for personal and professional success. Unfortunately, many people struggle with social situations and don’t know how to confidently approach and talk to others.

Here are some tips on how to be more socially confident.

Developing Social Confidence

Lack of social confidence plagues many people. Their discomfort prevents them from creating new connections and they miss out on enjoying opportunities that spring from social and professional relationships. 

While some people are naturally more comfortable in social settings (due to their upbringing or temperament), you can take steps to develop your social skills and improve your social confidence. With this in mind, here are some tips on how to be more socially confident. 

1. Stand Up Straight, With Your Shoulders Back

In his book 12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson offers a simple piece of advice on how to be more socially confident: “Stand up straight, with your shoulders back.” People will perceive you as higher in social status, and they’ll treat you as competent and able. This will then kick off a virtuous cycle: Because you’re receiving positive signals from others, you’ll increase your own self-worth, which will make you act even more confidently.

You might worry that all this posturing will make you a target for attack by stronger people. Peterson argues that the ability to respond with aggression decreases the probability that actual aggression will become necessary. In other words, acting confidently is a deterrent to attack.

TITLE: 12 Rules for Life
AUTHOR: Jordan Peterson
TIME: 31
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: 12-rules-for-life-summary-jordan-peterson

2. Act Confidently Even If You Don’t Feel Like It

To become more confident, you must display confident behavior. Think of the old adage “fake it ‘til you make it.” For example, if you’re shy and timid when you meet new people, conquer that by acting as a confident person: reach for the other person’s hand, clasp it firmly, make eye contact and say, “It’s nice to meet you.” Doing this often enough will banish your fear of meeting new people.

Five tips to act your way into feeling more socially confident:

  • Sit in the front seat. Literally take the seat up front at meetings, lectures, church or any kind of gathering.
    • Many people slip in the back to remain unnoticed, which betrays a lack of confidence.
    • Sitting up front builds confidence. It says you are present and ready for whatever challenge awaits.
  • Make eye contact. When you don’t make eye contact, you are conveying weakness, inferiority and guilt. Looking at another person in the eye tells her you’re confident and honest. Just meeting someone’s eye also makes you feel more confident.
  • Speak up. In meetings and social events, sometimes people with important things to say simply clam up. They might feel afraid of looking ignorant in the face of all the smart people around. But every time you fail to speak up, your confidence takes another hit – “I didn’t speak last time, so what makes me think I’m good enough this time?” Instead, resolve to speak up just once at every meeting you attend.
  • Smile big. Smiling builds confidence. Try to feel down and smile big at the same time. It’s impossible! When you feel fear creeping up, force yourself to smile, and see how worry and fear melt away.

TITLE: The Magic of Thinking Big
AUTHOR: David J. Schwartz
TIME: 37
READS: 29.8
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-magic-of-thinking-big-summary-david-schwartz

3. Speak Assertively

The words and phrasing you use when you speak say a lot about your confidence level. When you use passive language, you imply that you’re insecure, subservient, or incompetent.

Consider the following dialogue between April and her coworker, Jeff:

  • April: Hi Jeff, can I ask you a question? I wanted to ask if you’ll have those client reports for me soon.
  • Jeff: I’ll have to check with my boss, but I’ll try and get them to you this week.

There are a number of issues here. First, there’s no need for April to ask if she can ask a question; she comes across as if she’s bowing and scraping. When she does ask her question, it’s vague, and it doesn’t specify the urgency of her need.

Jeff, meanwhile, by using the phrase “have to,” implies that April’s request is an imposition that forces him to take on an additional burden. When he says he’ll “try,” he gives the impression that he’s uncertain about his ability to fulfill her request in the timeframe he specifies, and implies that he’s making room for himself to wriggle out of the commitment.

Meanwhile, speaking assertively gives the impression that you know what you want and need. It commands attention and communicates confidence. 

Consider the following dialogue, in which both parties are direct and assertive:

  • April: Hi Jeff, I need those client reports by next weekend. Can I expect them by the end of the week?
  • Jeff: I’ll get in touch with my boss and make sure you have them by Friday.

Here, April clearly communicates her need and the timeframe she’s expecting. She gets straight to the point. Jeff, too, is clear about his plan of action, letting April know what he’s doing and when she can expect her request to be fulfilled. Both parties come across as confident professionals who are sure of their needs and capabilities.

TITLE: The Fine Art of Small Talk
AUTHOR: Debra Fine
TIME: 45
READS: 225.3
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-fine-art-of-small-talk-summary-debra-fine

4. Make Social Situations Work for You

The final piece of advice on how to be more socially confident is a little counterintuitive. According to Vanessa Van Edwards, the author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People, you shouldn’t try to master every possible social situation. Instead, you should make social situations work for you. She offers a few tips on how to execute it in practice: 

Attend Events Where You’ll Feel Most Confident and Comfortable. Van Edwards recommends making a list of all the settings you love, loathe, and feel okay about, then accept invitations in places you love, reject ones in places you loathe, and take time to consider the ones that are in the locations you feel “okay” in.

Position Yourself in the Right Place in the Room. Van Edwards recommends that you interact with people in the places and at the times when they’re most likely to be receptive to conversation. In general, this means approaching people once they’re settled in, not when they’re in transition.

Approach Your People, Not All People. Van Edwards argues that you should forge relationships only with people who make you feel good because, when you’re surrounded by people who value and support you, you’re more likely to succeed.

Final Words

Social confidence isn’t a fixed personality trait. Rather, it’s a skill: Anyone can learn how to be more socially confident through practice. That’s why, if you want to hone your social confidence, you have to get into the habit of exposing yourself to different kinds of social situations.

If you enjoyed our article about how to be more socially confident, check out the following suggestions for further reading: 

The Like Switch

Do you struggle to make friends? Have you ever wanted to learn how to read people? If so, Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins’s The Like Switch can help. Schafer spent 22 years as a Special Agent in counterintelligence, counter-terrorism, and behavioral analysis at the FBI. In The Like Switch, Schafer—with the help of Karlins, a management and organizational behavior expert—applies his experience earning the trust of witnesses, suspects, and spies to the art of making friends and fostering powerful connections.

The Confidence Code

In The Confidence Code, journalists and authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman examine the art and science of confidence—what it is, why it matters, why women have more trouble accessing it than men, and how this shortage affects professional success, personal achievement, and even happiness. Biology plays a role, and so do systemic inequalities, but confidence is also largely a choice.

The Confidence Gap

Do you feel bombarded by negative thoughts, or feel you’re incapable of accomplishing anything? Do you often feel blocked from achieving your life goals because you lack confidence? Psychotherapist Russ Harris believes this is a common state of affairs and calls it living in the confidence gap. He believes you can get beyond this gap by learning how to relate to your negative thoughts differently: Instead of letting them dictate your actions, recognize them as mere mental events and carry on pursuing your goals. You’ll never be able to rid yourself entirely of negative thoughts and fears, but you can change how you react to them.

How to Be More Socially Confident: 4 Tips for Success

Want to fast-track your learning? With Shortform, you’ll gain insights you won't find anywhere else .

Here's what you’ll get when you sign up for Shortform :

  • Complicated ideas explained in simple and concise ways
  • Smart analysis that connects what you’re reading to other key concepts
  • Writing with zero fluff because we know how important your time is

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.