How To Build Confidence

Chris Brogan is a man I respect quite a bit.  I’ve never met him, but merely by reading his blog posts, you can tell he’s smart, thoughtful and is genuinely interested in helping people.  I’ve been reading his personal blog for awhile, but only recently started reading Escape Velocity, a blog on which Chris writes with several others.

Chris did a video post today about confidence.  As I watched it, I started thinking about how it relates to introverts.  Take four minutes to see Chris’s video, then come back here for my thoughts.

Pretty good stuff, isn’t it?  Here’s what inspired me:

  • Silence the Exterior Critics – Let’s face it, for introverts, that usually means extroverts.  This is maybe where you have to stand your ground and refuse to go to that party you really don’t want to go to.  It’s about being who you are and being true to yourself.  You can’t do that if you are letting someone else try to tell you your behavior is wrong.
  • Start Small – If there’s some part of your behavior you genuinely want to change, take baby steps.  If you dislike speaking up in meetings but really want to contribute, try making just one statement the next time.  It doesn’t have to be anything brilliant; it just needs to generally fit in with the conversation.  Starting is always hard, but once that first big step is finished, you’ll feel great.  And the next step won’t be quite as difficult.
  • Brush Off Failure – I think this is harder for introverts than extroverts.  We’re hyper-focused on our behavior because in the extrovert world we live in, what we’re doing is often perceived as not “normal.”  So let’s say you did speak up in the meeting, and then the conversation grinds to a halt because no one understood what you said.  Not a big deal.  Trust me, once the extroverts start talking again, they won’t even remember what you said!  We all tend to focus too much on the mistakes.  Let them go.  No one but you will remember them.

I’d love to hear what you thought about Chris’s video.  What does confidence mean to you?


  1. says

    Great post. I believe every introvert has to deal with the first item you mentioned. (How tiring!) I am not so sure about the third item though–whether or not failure truly impacts an introvert more than an extrovert. True, we are more inclined to review and analyze our own behavior, but I would suspect that the need for attention and approval that many extroverts appear to have would take quite a blow with a failure, especially if such failure is known publicly.

    BTW, great blog, I will definitely subscribe.

  2. says

    Not entirely on the same page. As an introvert I really don’t like speaking up but that does not necessarily mean I don’t do it. Its just that I don’t need to hear my own voice all the time (as those extroverts). And believe me as a stuttering (not so bad nowadays) introvert I have spent a lot of time silent.

    As an introvert I don’t take failure so hard, but I often sit there and think “wow, they are just talking to hear their voices”. And lately I have realised that that is what we introverts need to practice on. We get judged by extrovert standards so we need to chime in and talk. We don’t really need to be original or witty. Just do what everyone else does, rephrase what someone else already said. yes its hard, but that is what is needed.

    Totally agree on the “they will not remember” part. Just want to add that they will remember silence.

  3. says

    One of the great things about blogs, is that they expose you to the true feelings of the writer. I generally love reading these types of posts to understand how others view the word and try to internalize that in how I think and interact with others. Great post.

    While I generally go all out when I’ve decided to do something, I understand how it can help others to do things in steps. That said, I have an issue with your example of speaking up in a meeting and having it just “generally fit” with the conversation. The point of a meeting is to get the opinions and thoughts of a diverse group of people. A cacophony of “generally fitting” statements hurts the entire team. I’m an extrovert, and while its rare, I make it a point not to say anything if I have nothing to say.

  4. says

    Susan – Happy New Year to you and an enjoyable and successful 2011! Your thoughts are hitting my own thinking in the right fit. Just coming back from an opera performance at #Semperoper where I senses a lot in the play and the audience, which if would tell a friend right away, he/she would not understand. However the world, due to the web, is so interconnected that we find our counterparts who understand us.

    I have met friends of ChrisBrogan back in summer 2009 at PodCamp Boston, and so I am also connected to his tweets and blog entries. He is a great thought input and inspiration as his video (the link you gave us) has shown so beautifully).

    Cheers, Ralf

  5. says

    Chris Brogan has given so much in the way of insights and helpfulness. So I just wanted to add something here. A real confidence-booster is “knowing what to do next.” So it’s not just about the inner voices, it’s about the actions you take. Another way to phrase it is something I heard from Penelope Brazen Careerist (but it has made the rounds) — the only way to build self-esteem is to do things that are estimable.

    It’s actually much harder to talk your way into confidence than it is to take actions, learn from them (and to the points above, start small, brush off failure). But it’s the actions, more than the words that are important.

  6. says

    I truly appreciated Chris’ video on confidence as well. I can totally relate to the numer one bullet above, especially as I’m currenlty living with a friend who happens to be an extrovert and lives a very different lifestyle than mine. It can be rough for us introverts to just “be” at times without others wondering what our problem is for not wanting to join in with the gang every time, if we’re upset, etc. and just realizing that most of the time, we just need to be with our minds and in our own zone.

    Best wishes for a successful 2011!
    Cheers, Jennifer

  7. says

    To me, confidence means having the inner strength to act on the important things in life no matter what the noise around us says. Introverts have that advantage, I believe, and it enables us to do the things in the Chris Brogan video. It’s listening, but it includes acting, moving forward with our internal drive.

  8. says

    I would say i’m an introvert, but to make something of your life in the world we live in, you need to develop some kind of extrovert qualities, to make your voice heard and your qualities/expertise known. I’ve started to do a little video blogging here and there to help with that. The setup is a little sketchy in these clips, but aim to brush those up for my next round of bytes. What do you think?

  9. says

    “brushing off failure” definitely does not come easily to this introvert. i can be so dang hard on myself! harder than i’d ever be on someone else. and even while i’m able to recognize that, it’s still so hard to change. to extend grace to ME.


  10. says

    Wow, great blog find! I’m one. An introvert. Mostly in real life, not such much as a writer. :)

    I relate to feeling negatively judged. And I tried to hide who I was for so many years by developing a sort of professional persona. Someone more outgoing. But it always felt uncomfortable.

    On the other hand, I’ve really learned to express myself with the written word. And music And photography.
    These days, instead of putting on an act, I’m simply who I am.Which is really kind of an Introvert, Type A. I don’t feel a need to constantly have my voice heard and I don’t like being the center of attention, but if I feel strongly about something, you’ll hear from me. Quietly, in soft-spoken tones, but authoritatively.

    I’ve also learned to adjust a little in an effort to not fade from the room. I simply chime in with things like “I like it”, “I can support that decision”, or “that’s a great idea” to let people know I’m there. And if I really like something, I add a few sentences as to why, which also gives me a chance to reveal a little bit of how I think about things, without being front and center.

    Still, I frequently find myself explaining my style to others. I’m very comfortable with doing that. And while I”m at it, I throw in all of the wonderful benefits employers gain by having me — I am energized by solitary activities, which includes reading books, blogs, and other publications that keep me up-to-date in my field, for one.

    Here are a couple of tips I’ve seen work well with introverts over the years, including me:

    Tip 1: If you work with introverts, it’s always a good idea to send out a fairly detailed meeting agenda beforehand whenever possible. This will give them a chance to think about the topics before the meeting.

    Tip 2: If you are brainstorming and have introverts in the mix. Start by asking everyone to write one idea on a sticky note for a few minutes. This gives introverts a chance to work their introspective magic and be more active participants than they might otherwise be.

    It’s worth yorur while!


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