Helping your family members and friends develop self-confidence is based on the concept of human dignity. It begins with the foundation of respect. How you greet others, how you look at them, what you say to them, and how you listen to them all communicate whether you respect the other person.
Show Them Respect
So what are the specifics in showing others respect? First, be kind to them. Use a friendly tone of voice. Speak to them with words that build them up instead of putting them down. Don’t think of yourself as superior to them and that they’re incapable of growing as a person. Instead of moralizing to them, see the world through their point of view. Look them in the eyes, especially when they’re speaking so you show them you’re interested in what they’re saying. Let them know you understand them.
When someone is expressing their feelings, don’t say, “You shouldn’t feel like that.” Rather, allow them to say what’s on their mind. In itself, this can be healing. Listen calmly and with empathy to the pain, fear or anger they’re stating. If they feel that you respect what they’re saying, even if you disagree with them, they’ll feel more open to expressing their thoughts and opinions without fear of ridicule or criticism.
One of the most important ways you can give people respect and build their self-confidence is to help them feel that they’re visible, they’re seen and understood. Provide feedback so they know you’re listening to what they’re saying. “I hear what you’re saying.” “This is what I understand you’re telling me.” “You sound as if…” I think I hear you saying…”
If they’re behaving in a way you deem unacceptable, look at the context in which this person’s behavior makes some kind of sense. They may even feel their behavior is required or necessary. What would their point of view be?
Instead of calling them names such as “thoughtless” or “terrible,” ask them questions to understand their point of view more deeply. “What were you thinking at the time?” “How did you see the situation?” “What did you think the person was saying when you heard them say that?” “What did you feel then?”
Don’t Be Judgmental or Give Too Much Praise
Be careful not to be judgmental of others. You don’t want to make the other person feel guilty or negative about themselves. That will only make their self-confidence dissolve. If you say, “Only a sick and degenerate person would think like that” or “Do you know how depraved you sound?” you’ll intimidate the other person to the point that they won’t think highly of themselves. This is exactly the opposite from what you want.
On the other hand, if you extravagantly lay on the praise and compliments when it’s not earned, people will feel even more unworthy because they know it’s not true. Only say compliments when you truly feel they reflect what the person has accomplished. “I enjoyed your…” “That was a great success. You should be proud of yourself.”
Know When to be Compassionate
When others tell you their troubles, be compassionate, but don’t encourage them to pity themselves. Ask them what alternatives they see that could solve this problem or to improve the situation. Ask them what actions they’re willing to take.
Don’t interrupt while they’re telling their story. It’s better to wait until they’re finished and are able to take the next step in understanding how to deal with the situation.
However, if someone has a habit of negative thinking, complaining about everyday things, and criticizing others often, pointing this out to them may be doing them a favor. They may not realize what they’re doing and the harmful consequences of their words and attitudes, both emotionally and physically. You can make a game of it by requesting that for a certain period of time (such as when you’re in the car together or discussing the day’s events), they don’t express any negative or critical thoughts. If they can do this, be sure to compliment them.
Help Others Reach Their Potential
Most people underestimate their talents and inner resources. One of the best ways to nurture self-confidence is to relate to that person from your own vision of what they can achieve, their worth and their value. Believe in others! Tell them that they can fulfill their potential. “You don’t believe you can try out for the basketball team? I believe you can and that you’ll be a good player.” “I believe you’re capable of having an effective interview.”
If you can assist the person in role playing, then do so. This will help boost their confidence right away. Even if they continue to whine that they can’t do something, let them know that you hear them and then resume telling them how much you believe in them.
Be the Example of Having High Self-Confidence
Set an example to others on how to have high self-confidence. Be rational, harmonious, and reliable when you’re dealing with other people. This helps them live these qualities within themselves. What you do will inspire people to be like you. Let others see the passion you have for attaining your goals, the way you proudly uphold your values, and the integrity you bring to everything you do.
Express your point of view, and tell others of your wants and needs when it’s appropriate. Say no if you don’t want to do as someone else requests. Confront others in a calm, firm but friendly manner when you see that a behavior needs to be changed. Show them that this is the way you treat yourself and, by extension, this is the way they should treat themselves too. When they see how you lead your life, they’re more likely to pattern themselves after you, incorporating self-confidence into their daily life.
Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.
She offers kits with articles, guided visualizations, and songs as well as online courses, group coaching and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. To discover how to improve your relationships, download her free kit Create Self-Confidence in Relationships.