10 Etiquette Tips to Build Self-Confidence

Woman smiling in cafe
Knowing proper etiquette helps your confidence in all social and professional situations. Sam Edwards / Getty Images

People who are unsure about proper etiquette typically lack the confidence necessary for job advancement, social settings, and even parenting. They may feel inadequate; therefore, they clam up and avoid awkward situations that will reveal this inadequacy.

When You Lack Confidence

If you suffer from a lack of confidence, learn proper etiquette and practice it with people you are comfortable with. Over time, you may discover that you feel better about yourself in all of life’s circumstances.

Helpful Tips

Here are some tips that may help build your confidence:

  1. Smile. When you pass someone on the sidewalk, even if you don’t know him, offer a genuine smile. That simple expression will make you seem approachable and confident.
  2. Clean up. Before going out among people, take a long look at yourself in the mirror to make sure you’re clean and well groomed. Don’t go out with messy hair and wrinkled or dirty clothing. Nothing will destroy your confidence more than knowing you look like a hot mess.
  3. Have good posture. Do you slump or hold your head down when you’re out and about? Lift your chin and straighten your shoulders before you leave the house. It might take some practice, but good posture not only makes you feel better it gives others the impression that you are in control of your life.
  4. Make eye contact. Looking people directly in the eye helps you connect with others around you. Nothing says confidence like someone who looks directly at you.
  1. Say something. Your next step is to speak to other people. It doesn’t have to be a long, thought out conversation. It can be something as brief and simple as, “Nice day, isn’t it?”
  2. Focus on the other person. If you take the attention off yourself and put it on the other person in a positive way, they’ll think you’re brilliant, poised, and gracious. You can compliment her on something she’s wearing, or if you work with her, tell her you’ve always admired her professionalism. Make sure you’re being truthful. People will figure you out if you’re not sincere in your comments.
  1. Be yourself. If you are naturally a witty person, go ahead and crack a joke or two, as long as it’s in good taste. But if you’re not, you’ll fall flat on your face when you try to say something funny. You’re better off just being your sweet, unfunny self.
  2. Sincerely apologize. When you make a mistake, offer a sincere apology and then move on. Don’t go on and on about what a loser you are or say you’ve always felt inadequate. Everyone makes mistakes, so allow yourself to be human.
  3. Be positive. No one likes to be around negative people for any length of time. Whether it’s gossip, snobbery, or just constantly complaining, you’ll eventually see people running in the other direction when they see you coming. Having that happen will undermine your attempt to be more confident.
  4. Negotiate. If you want something different from what everyone else wants, there is nothing wrong with stating your case as long as you do it with a smile and positive attitude. Be willing to give in but not until you have a chance to have your say. Keep in mind that you might expose an angle that others haven’t yet thought of, and if you explain in a logical manner, you might win them over. By the same token, don’t always expect to get your way because you’ll wind up disappointed.

    Benefits of Self-Confidence

    Once you learn proper etiquette and improve your manners, you’ll discover that your confidence has moved up as well. This can make the difference in many areas of your life.

    Here are some of the benefits you’ll likely experience:

    • You’ll have more friends. Most people enjoy being around confident people who are kind, courteous, and polite to everyone.
    • You’ll be invited to more events. Once you gain confidence in a positive way, you’ll find your social calendar filling up more quickly.
    • You’ll be able to say no without guilt. No one can do everything, and learning the proper way to say no in a positive manner and without having to apologize will free you from guilt.
    • You’ll be more seriously considered for promotions. No company wants to move someone who lacks confidence into a management position. Once your supervisors see that you are poised and self-assured, they’ll view you in a more positive light.
    • Your children will be better behaved. When your children see your confidence, they’ll know you mean business. Don’t expect perfection from them, though. They’ll continue to test you. Your confidence will give you the ability to continue to stand up for what is right.
    • You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Having self-confidence removes the desire or need to constantly have to impress others because you know who you are, what you can do, and what you stand for.
    • Your courage will improve. If you are currently nervous about walking into new social situations where you'll encounter strangers, developing self-confidence will gradually change that. In fact, you might actually start to look forward to meeting new people and having new experiences.

    Things to Consider

    If you know you’re doing the right thing, treating others with respect, and following through with your commitments, you’ll naturally gain confidence. However, that doesn’t mean everything in your life will be perfect. You’ll still have weaknesses to work on.

    Here are more things to consider:

    • Continue to set goals for improvement. There is always an area of your life that can be improved.
    • Enjoy the journey of meeting your goals. In other words, live in the “here and now.”
    • Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has a different set of skills and strengths. Accept this and use yours to the best of your ability.
    • Enjoy your successes without being obnoxious. When you get a compliment for a job well done, simply thank the person without bragging or making a big deal out of it. On the flip side, don’t put yourself down by saying, “That was nothing.” It would be better to say, “I worked hard for that, so thank you for noticing.” You can also give others credit without diminishing your own worth.
    • Don’t be snobby. Rather than looking down on someone else who lacks confidence, be nice to that person and do what you can to help him. You might enjoy becoming someone’s mentor.
    • Take risks. Rather than fear failure, remember that if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. You might not be successful with every single thing you attempt, but you can consider it a learning experience that will help you in some way.
    • Practice. If self-confidence doesn’t come natural to you, practice acting confident until it does.