Confidence derived from speaking.
People are self-conscious, nervous and anxious in certain settings, which prevent them from having fun or acting confidently. Self-consciousness and confidence are antonyms, so in order to become less self-conscious, confidence must be learned. Truly confident people seem as though they were always confident, but that is not the case; confidence is learned and slowly builds over time; it is built upon past success.
For example, Leonidas, is a brilliant and confident computer programmer capable of solving complex problems. However, Leonidas was once an amateur, unsure of himself when he first started learning to code. As he was given harder and harder problems to solve, he gained more and more confidence until he became the creative coder he is now. Confidence is nothing more than your belief in your ability to succeed in future endeavors.
Socially confident people, who are well liked, believe they will continue to succeed socially because they have in the past. I will define succeeding socially as: making a positive impression on both strangers and friends and having fun doing it. This type of person attracts others to them with their magnetic personality. It is not fake; it is genuine. I will cover genuine charisma in depth in a later blog post, but first let’s discuss how to get rid of social anxiety.
Fundamentally, the source of social anxiety is a feeling of inferiority. Here are two common mindsets that describe why we feel this. First, maybe the skills we are anxious about, are actually inferior compared to the people we are with when we feel this. Second, maybe we think our skills are inferior but they are actually not. Sometimes, we aren’t sure what skills we are lacking, but we feel inferiority all the same. In either case, learning to speak well will help remedy social anxiety. In my estimation, our skill in speaking is the number one cause of social anxiety and should be the first skill to work on. I’m no speech coach so please look for additional resources on this, but I will share how I improved this skill.
Build your vocabulary. You own a smartphone, so install a dictionary and look up a word every time you don’t understand a word you hear or read. This is not something that will happen over night; it takes time just like coding or drawing take time to become good. After I have read a definition, I repeat back to myself in my mind how I would define the word out loud to a friend. Do this to test whether or not you truly understand a word. If you can’t explain the word to someone else, you don’t own it. As you start looking up more complex words, you will be forced to use previously learned vocabulary to define the new words. You will be amazed how quickly your vocabulary improves. To accelerate the process, read. A lot. Defining a word in your mind is like explaining a concept or idea. As you do this more, you will learn to speak clearly and succinctly. Coding is very logical, and working on your speaking ability will give your mathematical intelligence a much-needed break; and will exercise your linguistic intelligence. See Theory of Multiple Intelligences. As you learn new words, use them when talking to your friends and family and every chance you get. You will most likely misuse words frequently at first, but this is okay. You can practice at first on people you feel very comfortable with, so that when you mess up, you don’t feel ashamed. Everyone fails, so don’t make feeling ashamed of failure a habit. A mistake is a good thing because it is an opportunity to learn how to never make that mistake again. Make the mistakes around people you are close with so that you won’t make them around the people that do make you feel self-conscious.
Speak clearly with the right volume. The right volume depends on the setting. Your volume will be different in a library than at a construction site. This must be learned through experience. Also, don’t mumble. Some people start a sentence strong and then their volume slowly diminishes. Many people have the bad habit of speaking in the tone of a question. Only make a statement when you are sure you will say it in a strong voice. It doesn’t matter if what you’re saying might be wrong. We’re human; everything we say might be wrong. Of course you shouldn’t speak if you know what you’re saying is wrong; that’s lying. So assume you’re right and speak like it. Speak in a questioning voice only when you’re posing a question.
Cut out um’s and uh’s. Most people don’t notice when you use um’s and uh’s but they absolutely notice when you don’t use them. People use uh’s and um’s because they can’t think of a word or they can’t think of how to explain an idea. Uh’s and um’s buy us time while we think. Train yourself not to use them and your brain will begin to process information faster. Replace an uh or um with silence while you think. A strong vocab is extremely helpful with this. Words are nothing more than verbal expressions of ideas. Complicated words express complicated ideas, and learning to understand these ideas expands your mind and allows you to say more with fewer words. I’m not advising you to use as many big words as you can; that will come off as pompous. I’m advising you to use the correct word. In my estimation, great speakers use words to represent their ideas with near perfect accuracy.
While you are practicing and improving, inevitably you will feel some self-consciousness. This comes with the territory of learning a new skill, but as you get better you will feel less and less self-conscious and more confident. Surround yourself with people who are better than you and learn from them. You can learn through your own experience or from others who are better. Both ways are valid.
The next step is to learn to generate creative and new ideas. With your bolstered vocabulary, you can more clearly and eloquently express these ideas.