9 Reassuring Qualities Of The Truly Confident

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9 Reassuring Qualities Of The Truly Confident


Do you sometimes lack confidence?  Good.  Because truly confident people sometimes feel insecure.  They sometimes feel uncertain.  Show me someone who claims they are confident all the time and I'll show you someone who's not truly confident.

First things first: Confidence is not bravado, or swagger, or an overt pretense of bravery. Confidence is not some bold or brash air of self-belief directed at others.

Confidence is quiet: It’s a natural expression of ability, expertise, and self-regard.

I’m fortunate to know a number of truly confident people. Many work with me at HubSpot, others are fellow founders of their own startups some of whom I've met through my angel investment activity. But the majority are people I’ve met through my career and who work in a variety of industries and professions.describe the image

It comes as no surprise they all share a number of qualities:

1. They take a stand not because they think they are always right… but because they are not afraid to be wrong.

Cocky and conceited people tend to take a position and then proclaim, bluster, and totally disregard differing opinions or points of view. They know they’re right – and they want (actually they need) you to know it too.

Their behavior isn’t a sign of confidence, though; it’s the hallmark of an intellectual bully.

Truly confident people don’t mind being proven wrong. They feel finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And when they’re wrong, they’re secure enough to back down graciously.

Truly confident people often admit they’re wrong or don’t have all the answers; intellectual bullies never do.

2. They listen ten times more than they speak.

Bragging is a mask for insecurity. Truly confident people are quiet and unassuming. They already know what they think; they want to know what you think.

So they ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective: They ask what you do, how you do it, what you like about it, what you learned from it… and what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation.

Truly confident people realize they know a lot, but they wish they knew more… and they know the only way to learn more is to listen more.

3. They duck the spotlight so it shines on others.

Perhaps it’s true they did the bulk of the work. Perhaps they really did overcome the major obstacles. Perhaps it’s true they turned a collection of disparate individuals into an incredibly high performance team.

Truly confident people don’t care – at least they don’t show it. (Inside they’re proud, as well they should be.) Truly confident people don’t need the glory; they know what they’ve achieved.

They don’t need the validation of others, because true validation comes from within.

So they stand back and celebrate their accomplishments through others. They stand back and let others shine – a confidence boost that helps those people become truly confident, too.

4. They freely ask for help.

Many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness; implicit in the request is a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience.

Confident people are secure enough to admit a weakness. So they often ask others for help, not only because they are secure enough to admit they need help but also because they know that when they seek help they pay the person they ask a huge compliment.

Saying, “Can you help me?” shows tremendous respect for that individual’s expertise and judgment. Otherwise you wouldn't ask.

5. They think, “Why not me?”

Many people feel they have to wait: To be promoted, to be hired, to be selected, to be chosen... like the old Hollywood cliché, to somehow be discovered.

Truly confident people know that access is almost universal. They can connect with almost anyone through social media. (Everyone you know knows someone you should know.) They know they can attract their own funding, create their own products, build their own relationships and networks, choose their own path – they can choose to follow whatever course they wish.

And very quietly, without calling attention to themselves, they go out and do it.

6. They don't put down other people.

Generally speaking, the people who like to gossip, who like to speak badly of others, do so because they hope by comparison to make themselves look better.

The only comparison a truly confident person makes is to the person she was yesterday – and to the person she hopes to someday become.

7. They aren’t afraid to look silly…

Running around in your underwear is certainly taking it to extremes… but when you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally being in a situation where you aren't at your best.

(And oddly enough, people tend to respect you more when you do – not less.)

8. … And they own their mistakes.

Insecurity tends to breed artificiality; confidence breeds sincerity and honesty.

That’s why truly confident people admit their mistakes. They dine out on their screw-ups. They don’t mind serving as a cautionary tale. They don’t mind being a source of laughter – for others and for themselves.

When you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally “looking bad.” You realize that that when you’re genuine and unpretentious, people don’t laugh at you.

They laugh with you.

9. They only seek approval from the people who really matter.

You say you have 10k Twitter followers? Swell. 20k Facebook friends? Cool. A professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands? That’s great.

But that also pales in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the few people in your life that truly matter.

When we earn their trust and respect, no matter where we go or what we try, we do it with true confidence – because we know the people who truly matter the most are truly behind us.

So, what do you think?  Are there qualities of truly confident people that I've missed?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.

Note: The original version of this article was published as part of my participation in theLinkedIn Influencers program.  The article was very well received. It got 1.1 million views and has generated 4,000 comments.  This is v2 of the article with some minor edits. -Dharmesh

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Wed, Jul 03, 2013


Thanks Dharmesh. Much needed thoughts =)

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 10:15 AM by Sailaja

Most thoughtful and highly actionable. Thank you. Being open to all perspectives without fear also suggests a quality of confidence. What do you think?

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 10:32 AM by Robyn Stratton-Berkessel

I especially liked not having fear and not judging others -- as qualities of a confident person. The later trait engenders trust. Thank for the article. (Author of Job Interviewers: Get Inside Their Heads)

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 11:14 AM by Jack Dermody

"The article was very well received. It got 1.1 million views and has generated 4,000 comments." 
Seems like time to re-read number 9.

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 12:04 PM by Jordan

Thnx Dharmesh 
I have been reading each and every article of urs posted on hubspot and onstartup. 
you really write and share very valuable articles. 
thnx once again.

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 12:26 PM by Rahul Shingi

AWESOME article. I love it. I think these attributes are shared among leaders and strong managers.

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 12:38 PM by Raheem Parpia

There are few things as magnetic as confidence. Well done Dharmesh.

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 12:41 PM by Lawson Condell

Wow, great article! Thank you for sharing. 

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 1:31 PM by David Burt

Thank you for this very inspiring article!

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 3:32 PM by Alex

So if confident people listen 10 times more ...what happens when u have a bunch of confidant people in a room ....lots of listening ..do they really make fun people

posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 at 11:29 PM by sanele

Nice thoughts. Nice reading your article.

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 1:20 AM by Vikneshwar

20k FB friends? Impossible, FB allows only 5k friends! Nerdy, I know.

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 2:45 AM by Vedant Madane

Excellent note, Dharmesh! Thanks for sharing

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 3:20 AM by Vinit Verma

Nice article -gives a true picture of a confident person

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 4:15 AM by Debina Dey

Thanks for the wonderful article, indeed confident people are deep thinkers and like you rightly said they love to share ideas.

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 8:18 AM by Lebo imoh

nice tips for personality developments

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 12:25 PM by Gopal Krishan

need of the hour!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 6:36 PM by Raakaai

Beautiful article. most of us should read this.. need of the hour

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 8:01 PM by Vivek Prabhu

This article bolstered my confidence! 
Very well written. 
Thanks and Regards, 

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 8:03 PM by Heramb

It's very nice u helped to people's how to gain the confidence including me also :)

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 8:11 PM by Hari

very well written and explained. a gem of an article.

posted on Thursday, July 04, 2013 at 11:41 PM by yagya

I read your article on startups', is very commendable. I liked it very much. thanks. 

posted on Friday, July 05, 2013 at 5:05 AM by R.S. Bajpai

As if you know better!!! 

posted on Friday, July 05, 2013 at 9:45 AM by arbit

the material and the immaterial part has been perfectly explained and it is the exact defination of being confident. 
Being an absorbant to the information around is one of the best ways to learn about even the most lille aspects of life or even a profession. 

posted on Friday, July 05, 2013 at 11:26 AM by chaitanya dua

Confidence is quiet..- what a laconic statement! Wisdom at its best! Thanks for this post.

posted on Saturday, July 06, 2013 at 7:10 AM by Gara

Great article! Another trait may be that they are constantly learning, expanding their knowledge and experience. They have truly maximized the talents and resources that they were given. They know that they have the ability to find a solution to any problem they face.

posted on Saturday, July 06, 2013 at 5:19 PM by Katrina Geety

Remarkable explanation sir, but if you are thinking to write a book over it which would do great wonders with startups like ours. 
Best Wishes!

posted on Sunday, July 07, 2013 at 5:21 PM by Techocafe

Dharmesh, what happens if one has some of these qualities, and perhaps, some of the not-so-great ones too? It's a challenging task to strike that perfect balance. :)

posted on Tuesday, July 09, 2013 at 11:50 PM by Stephanie

They have truly maximized the talents and resources that they were given.

posted on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 6:20 AM by sanut

Spot on commentary.

posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 11:21 AM by Marielaina Perrone DDS

Nice article for a confidence boost!! Just be confident after all "Life is like a photography, you use the negatives to develop". Looking forward for some more interesting articles....

posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM by Chintu

Great article. I strongly agree. We as leaders are not perfect and don't pretend to know all the answers. To think that way will lead to a micro-manager thus spot lighting ones lack of self-confidence.

posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM by Clyde Knight Jr

Very true!!!

posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM by web development newcastle

Hi Dinesh, 
Very insightful read! To someone who is conceited, they would mistake this behaviour you wrote about as a weakness and not at all confident or worse stupid. But thanks to your affirmation of all that you have described as confidence, I am very humbled and hope to make this world a better place. Cheers

posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 at 10:13 PM by Celine

Sorry I misspelt your name, Dhamesh

posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 at 10:15 PM by Celine

I love your article, particularly #1 - well said. I help people overcome codependency and soon publishing a book, Conquering Shame and Codependency. You describe someone free of shame and codependency very well. Being able to listen and not have to prove oneself is a sign of wholeness - honoring oneself and others as unique, separate individuals. 
Darlene Lancer MFT 
Author of Codependency for Dummies 

posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 5:01 PM by Darlene Lancer

SUPERB ARTICLE!I totally agree with DARLENE LANCER'S valueable Codependency... 

posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM by saima

Thanks Saima. I think we should all practice visualizing behaving this way. It's very helpful to have a model of how we what to act.

posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM by Darlene Lancer MFT

Comments have been closed for this article.