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14 Things Confident People Would Never Do—So You Shouldn’t Either

Show, don't tell. No really, telling people how confident you are is one of the surest ways to convince them otherwise.

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Get defensive when corrected

Confident people understand their own talents and faults and are able to politely accept constructive criticism. “Accepting feedback graciously exudes quiet confidence and perceived competence, both qualities that increase perceived capability,” says Wendy Patrick, JD, PhD, author and behavioral expert. “They regard feedback not as threatening, but as a training opportunity and a chance to improve.”

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Try to please everyone

There’s a difference between wanting to help others and devoting yourself to making everyone like you. The former is noble while the latter is impossible and will ultimately kill self-confidence, says Joseph R. Sanok, MA, a licensed professional counselor, business coach, and author of Practice of the Practice. “People pleasers often have low self-confidence because they base their worth on what other people think of them,” he explains. “True confidence comes from the inside, not the outside.” Easier said than done, however. If people-pleasing is your tendency, here’s how to set healthy boundaries with people.

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Talk more than they listen

Your first mental image of “confidence” may involve speaking in front of a crowd or leading a team, but in reality, the more confident people are, the less they feel like they have to prove themselves. “This means they are slow to speak and quick to listen, especially with those closest to them,” Patrick explains. Unfortunately lots of people think they’re great listeners when they’re really not. Read these 7 clear signs you’re being a bad listener to make sure your listening skills are up to par.

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Don’t spend hours on Facebook

Confident people use social media wisely. Spending too much time on Facebook looking at everyone’s “perfect” lives will make anyone feel less confident, so use social media only with a clear intention. “Confident people use social media to connect with specific people or to communicate with someone, and they don’t just surf it because they’re bored,” Sanok says. “They also learn how to put what they see into perspective and recognize that they aren’t seeing the whole picture.” The research backs up this approach: A recent study found that the more time people spend on social media the more depressed and lonely they are in real life.

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Make fun of others

Mocking other people or putting them down is a tactic used primarily by insecure people to make themselves look and feel better by comparison. But it doesn’t work. Instead, confident people display their strength by supporting others around them, Patrick says. This will not only make you more confident but it will also make people more confident in you. “We all value and believe in those who value us,” she adds.

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Body posture can do a lot to convey confidence or lack thereof, Sanok says. “Having a strong posture is one of the surest ways to convey confidence,” he says. “If you don’t feel confident in your body for some reason then it’s important to identify the problem and fix it, say, by working out more or practicing ‘power poses.'” And it’s not just the way you stand, what you’re wearing can have a big effect on your confidence too. Check out these surprising ways clothing affects your mood.

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Assume they have all the answers

“The willingness to listen to the viewpoints and ideas of others demonstrates maturity and self-control—both of which exude confidence,” Patrick says. Instead of thinking their ideas are the best or only path to success, confident people recognize that others have much to offer and are open to considering all opinions. (Psst… If you need a cheat-sheet though, here are the answers to 25 of life’s toughest questions!)

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Play the victim

“Confidence comes from acting, not reacting,” Sanok says, adding that this helps people feel in control of their own lives and destinies instead of being at the mercy of the universe. “People with low confidence just let life happen to them and then blame others when things go badly,” he says. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, break the cycle by trying one of these science-backed tips to instantly boost your self-confidence.

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Fudge the truth

There is some truth in the old saying “fake it ’till you make it,” but that only goes so far with confidence, Sanok says. “You do want to act like you know what you’re talking about—but speak only about what you know,” he says. “Don’t lie or pretend to know something you don’t. Confident people will admit when they don’t know something and will ask others or offer to find the information.”

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Are intimidated by others’ success

“Confident people are not intimidated or threatened by other capable people, as they recognize that everyone suffers from the same insecurities,” Patrick says. Instead of comparing their worst to other people’s best and feeling jealous or envious, they can recognize what they have and are grateful for it, she adds. Success isn’t a zero-sum game.

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Obsess over the past

Your internal dialogue can make or break you when it comes to confidence because you believe what you tell yourself, Sanok explains. So if you’re constantly obsessing over your faults and past mistakes, you’ll feel like a failure and act like one. But if instead you tell yourself that you are beautiful, smart, and can change the world, then you’ll start to act like that, he adds. It’s also important to stop telling others or yourself to “just be more confident”—it isn’t that simple and can even backfire.

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Get lost in the details

Getting bogged down by too many choices or small details is a surefire way to appear less confident, Sanok says. Eventually you have to make the best choice you can with the information you have and move forward with it. “Confident people learn to focus on the one thing that will make everything else easier,” he explains. “They don’t waste time and energy on the small stuff.” You have to figure out what’s really key to your happiness and success and what isn’t—and then let that other stuff go.

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Spend all their time at work

Confident people are often natural leaders at work but that doesn’t mean they spend all their time there. Instead of being workaholics, those with confidence will figure out what energizes them and brings them happiness—whether it’s golf, reading, dancing, or traveling—and make sure they have time to do those things, Sanok says. They’re confident enough to say no to others’ demands on their time and to say yes to taking care of themselves.

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Cross their arms

It may sound like a little thing but crossing your arms over your chest makes you appear defensive and the opposite of confident, Sanok says. Confident people stay on the same level as those they are talking to—sitting if the other person is sitting or standing if the other person is standing. That’s because confident people will slightly mirror the other person’s posture and gestures (but don’t mimic too precisely or you’ll just look creepy!). Take it a step further by taking posing advice from the pros with these body-confidence tricks from plus-size models.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.