Social confidence is the term I use to describe the type of confidence that concerns social situations and dealing with other persons.
I think most people have a profound misunderstanding of what it takes to develop social confidence. The problem is that they treat social confidence like any other type of confidence, and they believe developing it requires the same approach.
But it doesn’t. And so they end up going on this strenuous and unnecessary journey towards social confidence. Ironically, they often don’t even reach their destination, because they took the wrong road.
Social Confidence vs. Mechanical Confidence
I refer as mechanical confidence to the confidence regarding certain tasks or roles, and how well you can perform them.
Confidence as a singer, as a football player, as a car driver, as a lawyer or as an accountant, these are all forms of mechanical confidence.
Mechanical confidence in a certain area is reliant on the education, experience, results and appraisals that you’ve received in that area.
For instance: if you work as an accountant and you’ve received training at a top tier accounting school, you have over a decade of accounting experience, you have done correctly all sorts of convoluted accounting tasks and your clients habitually praise you for being such a good accountant, it’s reasonable to have ‘accounting confidence’.
And it makes sense, as you’re likely a very good accountant, with first-class accounting skills.
In the realm of mechanical confidence, skills and confidence go hand in hand. The way to develop your mechanical confidence in a specific area is typically to increase your skills in that area.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent accountants who lack confidence as accountants, but still, the fact they have those excellent accounting skills creates a solid foundation to develop that confidence.
Social confidence is different. Although for the most part, people treat it the same as mechanical confidence.
By this I mean that they think social confidence needs to be based on social skills and social likeability, so they try to increase these elements in order to become more socially confident.
Most people I work with as a coach believe they need to learn how to be funny, how to make captivating conversation or how to impress others in order to feel confident in social settings and become more outgoing.
But they’re making a profoundly wrong assumption.
The Truth about Social Confidence
The fact of the matter is this: social confidence is not dependent on social skills. You don’t need to be a master conversationalist and a charismatic person in order to have social confidence.
Sure, these factors can elevate your social confidence and it’s a good idea to develop your social skills, but don’t believe for a second that without good social skills, you can’t have and shouldn’t have social confidence. Because that’s a bunch of bullshit.
Social confidence is something you expand from inside yourself. Its foundation is not in your social skills, but rather in your thinking.
Some of the most socially confident people I know are complete slobs with no goals in life, and little intelligence, creativity or allure to bring out. They have little that other people can passionately like them for, apart from their confidence in and of itself.
Yet they can feel confident in a social setting, not because the people in that setting like them, but because it doesn’t truly matter to them whether these people like them or not. They don’t need other people’s approval.
If you’re trying to develop your social confidence by trying to become a better, more likeable person, you’re pointlessly taking the long wrong.
Really, the best way to go is to just work on your social confidence directly. Focus on weeding out your limiting beliefs, embrace the notion that you don’t need the people around you to approve of you, and your social confidence will rise naturally.
And it’s not that unreliable confidence you have during a conversation when you know the other person is fond of you. It’s a lasting and reliable confidence that comes from your outlook on yourself, others, the world and life.
Once you have this natural social confidence, developing yourself and becoming more socially skilled is just an afterthought.
Image courtesy of iChaz