How to Be Confident, Meet People, and Influence Others

How to be confident

Learning How to Be Confident:

I used to be such a wuss when it came to any sort of social interaction because I used to be afraid of what people think. Now, I LOVE talking and meeting new people. I’ll let you in on how I did that a little bit later (a hint is in the title) but first, some stories.

Back in middle school, my heart would begin to beat faster and faster when I knew my name would be called for “popcorn reading.” If you don’t know what that is, it is basically a classroom taking turns reading passages from a book.

What if my voice sounded funny? What if puberty wasn’t kind and decided to make my pitch higher in the middle of a sentence? Oh God, what if I mispronounce “Algernon?!”

Hell, I was afraid to order food at McDonalds by myself at one point because I was scared of what people think!

This fear of having others hear my own voice transitioned into another problem that I find common in a lot of people, the fear of talking to others (especially strangers.) You probably have this fear for the same reasons as most others. You think others will react negatively and think you’re weird for talking to them.

For example, one of my best friends usually asks something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t they think you’re weird?” when I suggest saying hi to a person we don’t know then asking them to help make a decision with us.

I was at his college campus a few weeks ago and we were trying to decide where to go for drinks and so the solution was simple: I would show him that people respond positively to spontaneous contact and there’s no awkwardness if you practice going at it “normally”, or with confidence.



“I really need your help,” I told her. She smiled, happy to be the heroine today.

“We can’t decide what to drink… So, Starbucks or Coffee Bean?”

Her smile grew wider as she shouts back, “Coffee Bean!”

I smile, nod my head, and say thanks as we split ways. “Wait! Sweet tea or ice blend?!”

“Sweet tea!”

“Awesome, thanks again!”

Actually, looking back I should have gotten her number then invited her to join us. Anyway.

Did I come off as a creep? Nope. Did she fear she was going to be bothered by a loser? Nope. Did I waste her time? Not at all. Did she enjoy a spontaneous moment with a stranger? You bet!

Throughout the years, I’ve learned several things. People love to be spontaneous, they love to be the hero—or heroine—and they enjoy talking to people. There’s about 10,000 more things I learned, but those are the three things a lot of people don’t realize about most people. Sure, you’ll eventually run into a handfull that genuinely dislike this sort of contact, but they don’t make up the majority.

Here is what’s really going on in people’s heads when you enter their lives (no matter how briefly.)

“Is this person exciting?”

Body language is important for confidenceMost people see spontaneous conversation as weird because they play the worst-case scenario in their head. If you’re not looking at the ground, hunching forward to an extreme angle like the hunchback of Notre Dame, and talking like you would imagine a serial killer then most likely they won’t have an inner monologue criticizing your every move.

Even if you’re a little awkward, people aren’t going to care. Most people are awkward! So if you’re awkward, they are going to think you are normal.

Is normal bad? No. But what’s subconsciously going on in the other person’s head is a question. “Is this person exciting?”

By exciting, you should be wondering if your first impression is giving off a certain aura. Is your posture tall? Are you speaking with confidence and calmness?

Just those two things alone give a great first impression and can lead to an amazing conversation, a date, or a new friendship.

If you’re really worried about what others think of you then focus on those two things, good posture and confidence.

How to be confident and influence what people think:

Fake it until you make it

Fake confidence turns into real confidenceI’m not saying you fake your interests or pretend to be like someone you’re not. Instead, fake the aura. Tell yourself that YOU are the epitome of confidence. Imagine you’re Robert Downey Jr. or Scarlett Johansson.

Why does this work and why am I telling you to fake it until you make it? When you fake confidence, people see that on the outside and start responding to you better. For example, ordering a coffee with a smile, eye contact, and tall posture will usually be met with a more welcoming barista.

If you were to order with absolutely zero confidence and low self-esteem, their feedback would be very different.

After faking confidence enough, you pick up that others are responding differently and even treating you better. Over time, you actually begin to feel genuine confidence as a result and it becomes a loop.

You fake confidence, people treat you better, it converts into real confidence, and so on. Soon, you won’t even need to fake it anymore!

This is the method I used way back when I first started out. By way back, I mean a few years ago. Now there’s no faking it because I have this new appreciation of life where I feel I can do anything, all thanks to confidence.

There’s even evidence to suggest that faking a confidence stance can reduce stress and get you into a better mindset.

Practice talking to at least 5 strangers a day

Stop wondering to yourself what people think. You’re going to need to get out in the real world and get actual experience to get an idea of how to act when talking to a stranger.

To do this, I want you to practice approaching and striking up conversation with at least 5 strangers a day. Pretty hard, right? That’s one approach to building a social life, a topic we’ve covered before.

It can be as simple as you want as you’re starting out. Ask for directions or the time, say thanks, and end it right there. Once you feel like you’re okay with the act of talking to someone you don’t know, begin to hold actual conversations while you’re waiting in the same line as another person.

Get creative!

I swear, after enough conversations, you’re going to realize people respond if you present yourself well. So work on your confidence.

Be mindful of your posture and stand up tall

UPLOADING  1 / 1 – Posture affe…nfidence.jpg ATTACHMENT DETAILS  Posture affects confidencePosture is one of the more difficult things to work with because most of us are used to poor posture. There’s rounded shoulders, forward neck, the slump, etc.

The best thing to do is be conscious of your posture and remind yourself to stay tall. There are many websites that are much better equipped than I am with teaching posture, so refer to this article on posture.

Let’s go back to the example with the Starbucks or Coffee Bean scene. My posture was tall and it showed I believed in myself because body language can convey confidence too. Not only that, but my confidence was visible through my tone and the fact that I approached her randomly.

I’m sure if I talked very low and fast while hunching forward, staring at her feet, I would have gotten a different response from her. That’s just the world we live in, unfortunately.

But hey, we all judge others based off how they present themselves. It’s just a matter of life. So why not put your best foot forward?

There’s more to it

eBook TransparentConfidence is a huge topic to cover and this article alone doesn’t cover everything to know. That is why I wrote a detailed eBook on the subject of confidence AND charisma. The best part? It’s free.

The full title of the eBook is The Compact Guide to Charisma, Confidence, and Being Well-Liked. It’s a lot more in-depth and you’ll be able to read it without paying anything while you apply what I teach.

However, there is a small catch. It is exclusive for Self Stairway email subscribers only.

This means you need to be on the email list to receive the eBook.

You can join the list below:

“The Compact Guide to Charisma, Confidence, and Being Well-Liked”


In case you need more convincing, check out 7 Reasons to Subscribe.

Photo Credit: Flickr Jakecaptive

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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67 responses to How to Be Confident, Meet People, and Influence Others

  1. Hello Vincent! I think that what you said about practicing is extremely important. I am really outgoing now, but I used to be shy in high school. Wouldn’t it be great if a course like this could be offered in high school or even middle school?

    I like your example of a quick interaction (question about coffee) and then parting ways. Sometimes there is the opportunity to take it a bit further. I usually don’t like lengthy conversations with strangers, but I do appreciate light banter and lots of smiles and hellos. If I were single, perhaps I’d be more into it! 😉

    Thanks for the great post!

    • I wish there was a course in high school! A few weeks ago, my friends and I took the time to tutor my friend’s cousin in “becoming the ultimate freshman.” We passed down lessons we wish we knew at his age and the key lesson we emphasized the most on was confidence.

      Ah, I wish I had such a luxury at 14.

  2. Loving this fine, fine article, V. Your remarks about being exciting and spontaneous are key here, methinks. Boring can easily be seen as one of the greatest offenses on earth. I would tell someone to go get really good at something they love doing so they have something of value to offer a conversation and they have something they really want to talk about. Confidence must be earned to at least some degree.

    It’s great to be able to connect what you love the the rest of the world and have a lens with which to view phenomenon. Then go out there and let it fly, after of course, you listen, to get the feel of the crowd and the context in which you are interacting. Is that muddled enough for you?

    • You’re right, it does have to be earned. I do find that most people have that badge worth showing but they don’t know how to internalize it enough to realize just how awesome they are.

      I know what you mean and it’s not confusing at all. 🙂 Makes perfect sense!

  3. I would tell them the same thing you did. Fake it until you make it a little bit everyday until eventually you don’t have to fake it.

    I would tell them to have a goal: what do you want to be able to do? (meet new people?); set a plan (something you do everyday); and stay accountable to the plan (something like Stickk).

    This might be of interest to people (and a great follow up to Vincent’s post).

    • Thanks for mentioning that TED Talk! I saw it a while back and it’s one of the best ones I’ve seen. I should have made a note of it in the article, but hopefully this comment finds its way to readers. Thanks, Davis!

  4. This was a good read Vincent. I don’t agree with everything you’ve written, but I see your points. What works for one may not work for another. I don’t believe faking confidence can create it . . . at least not for everyone. Nor standing tall for that matter. I’m just not into fake.

    And small talk with strangers absolutely kills me. But maybe that’s just the raging introvert in me.

    Still, I love what you say about spontaneity and excitement. Those are two of the most attractive qualities we can ever find in someone. They make people interesting. Engaging.


    You’ve definitely given me some things to think about here. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to strike up a conversation with a total stranger every now and then. Might actually be just what I need.


    • It’s not necessarily the act of just faking confidence that creates it, but it’s the feedback you get from others that make you feel better about yourself. It can be from a number of effects. Ah, this person is treating me better, I feel so good inside… Or it can be “Oh wow, yeah I can definitely feel like holding this mindset is giving me some good vibes!”

      As for standing tall, it’s good for your body anyways, so why not? 🙂 The added effect of appearing more confident is just an added bonus. Besides, good posture is less of faking something and more of practicing something you should be doing anyway.

      I don’t really picture you as the introvert, Trevor!

      • Raging introvert, Vincent. Raging. And I do agree that we should stand tall . . . just not for its effects on confidence. But I hear what you’re saying . . . interaction with others IS confidence building in and of itself. The more we practice it, the more comfortable (read: confident) we get at it.

  5. Body language is definitely important: head up, shoulders back, and eyes focused directly on the person you intend to engage with. Lead with a smile. Have a purpose for the connection, rather than approach hemming and hawing around. The suggestion to speak to at least five people a day definitely will help build a person’s confidence. It took me years to gain the confidence I needed, and I still have times when I feel like I did when I was younger.

  6. Hey Vincent,

    I absolutely loved this 🙂

    3 awesome tips that all make a huge difference. I think the second point of practice has got to be the main one. I find that the more I socialise the better I am at it and vice versa. It comes in swings depending on how outgoing I am at that point in time in my life.

    The other thing with putting yourself out there, socialising more and meeting new people is that it not only expands your network, but it expands just how ‘interesting’ you are… you have plenty more experiences to draw upon for conversations!


    • Definitely right about making yourself more interesting! Especially if you can really remember the details about people you can bring it out in other conversations. “Yeah, the other day I was talking to a astronaut about…”

      Don’t think I ever met an astronaut before, but I probably will sometime!

  7. A nice way to practice is to just say to the cashier at the supermarket, “So, has it been busy today?” They like to respond. A lot of people treat them as invisible.

    I once said to the maid in the hallway at a hotel, “Hi! How are you today?” And she said, “Oh, thank you for noticing me!” People treat them like second-class.

    Bring a moment of joy into someone’s life today! It will absolutely boost your confidence!

    • I noticed this too! A lot of people look away, ignore questions unless it’s something they HAVE to answer, and they’re pretty much unnoticed. That is a good place to start if you really need to just get in an environment where it isn’t out of the ordinary to speak. Added bonus of making someone’s day!

  8. Starting out being confident is huge (even if you really don’t feel it). I’ve found the biggest rewards have come from those times I made myself a little vulnerable and ignored the fear of rejection.

  9. In my experience, confidence is rarely faked effectively. Instead, we all develop an appropriate timbre of voice that comes from our comfort with our station in life.

    • Faking it isn’t meant to be permanent, but instead it is to be used in hopes of developing genuine confidence. The problem with hoping for a voice that tells us we’re comfortable is that many people never reach that point. What other alternatives are out there for them?

  10. For me it helps to think about myself. I love it when strangers talk to me. Why? Out of all the random people, they chose me to talk to. It makes me feel approachable, interesting, and soooo good looking, or at least the first two for most people and the last one if an attractive female initiates conversation.

    So I think about how it would be nice to make someone else feel that way.

    Above all, forcing the issue until you’re comfortable with it is a good strategy in my experience. Good points on body language too. People read that very accurately on a subconscious level.

    • That’s a good point, Stephen. If you feel THAT good when someone approaches you, imagine how many people you can stir up those same feelings for in one day if you wanted to? You could be the ultimate spreader of joy!

  11. Hi Vincent, Good post. I have experienced someone lighting up just because I asked them how busy it was, or asked if they had to work the whole day. Just because people are working with people doesn’t mean they are not lonely. Sometimes it’s especially lonely because you are just the one serving.

    I think one thing that prevents people from talking to others is that fear of rejection you spoke about. One thing that might help is to question if you could be wrong. What if the person before you is dying to talk to someone, dying to be included.

    What would I tell someone who wants to be confident? I would tell them to take a blank piece of paper and list some of their strong points. And after they are done, I would tell them that not everyone has those points. I would help them see they are uniquely made and one of a kind. We lack confidence when we compare. Then we are saddened that we don’t measure up. That’s my two cents.

    • Whoops, I thought I had replied to this! Writing down your strengths is definitely a good idea and I personally do that every so often when I’m feeling inadequate. That and I talk to myself to remind myself what I’m good at.

  12. Glad I found your found…very interesting! I wish I could have read this back when I was growing up. Absolutely agree about your theory about faking confidence leading to real confidence. Great advice and tips!

  13. Well done, this is an awesome post! Growing up I always felt my own shyness was unusual and made me uniquely awkward. Like you I was always worried about how I would be seen by others. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized two things: 1) people don’t really think or care that much about you. You might spend a lot of time thinking about yourself and think that it is natural to spend most of your brain power on you, but most other people are busy paying attention to themselves in just the same way. 2) When people do turn their attention on you they usually want to see you succeed (with rare exception). This is really helpful for public speaking. Audiences are usually very forgiving of your mistakes because they want you to do well. They are rooting for you. I still feel weird talking to strangers sometimes, but these ideas have helped me overcome that awkwardness quite a bit over the years.

    • For your first point, what really drives the point home is to imagine how much you think about others. Sure, there are the occasional thoughts and judgements that cloud your head, but you don’t really spend much time on those thoughts. Like you said, we’re thinking about ourselves so we don’t have time to think about the flaws of others.

      Your second point is great as well! Everyone knows how scary public speaking is so mistakes are usually forgivable.

  14. Great article. Another great icebreaker. When walking in a park & seeing some “struggle” with a self-portrait, ask if they would like you to take theit picture. Quick, easy but could lead to a longer conversation. I do this all the time (easy when you live in a major city).

    • Ooh, good one! With your suggestion and Anne’s idea of talking to servers, it’s making me think I should have provided more examples for the talk to at least 5 strangers portion.

      Funny story about taking pictures for other people. A few weeks ago I was in San Diego with a few buddies of mine. One of them was a friend of a friend so I didn’t know him too well. He had asked a girl to take a photo for us and after she took our photo I decided to give my friend’s friend a hard time.

      “Hi, thanks again for taking the photo. What’s your name?” I extended my hand for a handshake.

      The girl who took our photo told me her name and I told her, “My buddy S over here thought you were cute, which is why we staged this whole take our photo thing. Can he have your number?”

      The girl didn’t object and she was very shy, but Mr. S refused and walked away. Bummer!

      What I’m trying to show here is that even though I put Mr. S on the spotlight, I drew a lot of attention to myself in this interaction. This took a lot of confidence and there’s no way in hell I would’ve done something like that four years ago!

      Some people may say what I did was a bit jerkish, but it was all innocent fun and the girl seemed to have enjoyed it. Don’t worry, my friends and Mr. S got a good laugh out of it too. Plus, the girl and her friend she was with were both smiling like crazy. 🙂

  15. This might sound a bit simplistic, but not giving a sh*t about what other people think can make you incredibly confident. Stop REALLY accepting and loving yourself and don’t really care what other people think / say. Then it just becomes second nature to be confident.

    I’ve noticed that I dip in and out of this. Going to have to work on keeping it 100% all the time.

    • There’s some truth to this, but it can still make you simply apathetic towards things and remain unconfident. Lack of confidence doesn’t stem only from the fear of what others think, although it does play a large role in most cases.

      It’s one of those subjects you have to tackle in chunks because there is no universal antidote for everyone, you know? But 100% yes, try to adopt an attitude that focuses less on seeking approval.

  16. Haha, you’re so right, Vincent! Lots of people assume that others will think they’re weird for striking up a conversation, so they wall themselves off (and play with their phones) instead.

    I see this at the office all the time. People walk around, looking “important” by constantly playing with their blackberries. But in reality, it’s probably because they don’t feel confident about talking so they would rather not give you the time of the day to do so.

    Having better posture definitely helps someone feel more confident. So does smiling and making friendly eye contact. A great rule of thumb for this is to ask yourself: what would a 5-year-old do?

    You see, kids make friends so easily on the playground. That’s because they don’t judge. And they don’t really care about what others think about them.

    I think we can all learn something from that.

    • Funny you’d bring up the 5-year-old thing. Just a few minutes ago my buddy and I were sitting in a coffee bean and just to the right of us, outside the window, were two kids just dancing without giving a crap that anyone saw them. They looked at us and smiled as we watched their awesome dance. It was crazy because I wouldn’t have the guts to do that!

  17. Nice post, Vincent. It was great to meet you and Andy this past week – lets do it again next time I pass through the area!

  18. Great post, Vincent. I give many of these same tips in my public speaking courses. I suggest being contrived with gestures until they become natural. And of course posture is a big deal. And you’re right, nobody is looking at us critically. Of course I did look at the drunk in the music store critically yesterday. But his actions and posture gave him away.

    • Posture is a huge part of public speaking too. Even if your words may not sound absolutely amazing, the way you physically present yourself plays a large role in how others perceive your speech. That’s definitely something worth remembering.

  19. Great post Vincent. This actually coincides with my latest guest article that you commented on yesterday 🙂

    Not many people know this but I actually got trained by a well known Pick up artist called ‘Adam Lyons’ a few years ago back when he was in London.

    Everything you basically wrote about was pretty much the same thing he taught but explained it in a way where it was easy to understand ad apply.

    There are huge detriments to having abundance though, as it makes it difficult to settle down and find someone to be in a relationship with 🙂

    Lately, I use my skills to network and make friends as it’s much more valuable than to simply meet girls and go on loads of dates.

  20. I guess practice makes perfect. Fear of rejection is what paralyzes most people I believe. If you just keep thinking that most people are genuine and will react favorably, which they will do, you can do it.

    • A solution to counter the fear of rejection is to get out there with the goal of purposefully getting rejected. This doesn’t mean saying horrible things and hoping people slap you in the face. Instead, get out there and be “normal,” but in the back of your head HOPE for a rejection. Go out and ask a random girl out for coffee, hoping she’ll say no.

      You’ll get a few Yes and a few No’s. Both are good because we’re aiming for rejection. The yes are bonuses.

      This sounds like a pretty bizarre idea, but you’ll see after a few rejections that it doesn’t hurt so bad. A few months ago I had a girl tell me she had a boyfriend. My goofy response was “Wait, you don’t want two?”

      All in good fun. 🙂

  21. Hey Vincent! great post with lots of practical tips. I totally agree with correct posture helps you to feel more confident & I do this all the time. I believe practice makes perfect as with building confidence. keep going!

    • The posture thing is even better when other people openly admire and compliment you on your posture! Nothing better than “Wow, how do you stand up so tall?” They think it’s magic or natural, but the secret is just conscious practice.

  22. For me, confidence comes as a result of doing something. Some would frame that as faking it till you make it whilst I see it as just doing something. People in fear retreat whilst doing something is moving towards being confident.

    By asking yourself ‘What do i want’ and then asking ‘what is the smallest step I can take today’ you start building a bias for action, which brings you towards competent confidence. Remembering confidence has a basis in competence, even self-confidence. Self-confidence comes from doing a number of things and experiencing set-backs, failure, success, learnings from those experiences.

    Regarding posture – due to the nature of our lives these days a lot of us tend to spend a great deal of time sat down which creates a slumping forward of our shoulders and a tilting forward of our head. saving quiting your job and getting a role as an army guard, part of correcting posture involves (a) being conscious and intentional about correcting it and (b) doing exercise that pulls the shoulders back.

    A quick exercise:
    – Stand tall
    – Pull shoulders back and down
    – Pull your chin back as though you are creating a ‘double chin’
    – Squeeze your glutes (backside muscles)

    This posture you are in is known as ‘neutral spine’ and is the upright posture we should be in.

    Aaron Morton

    The Confidence Lounge

  23. I’m admittedly still a little insecure about being in public situations where there are a lot of people I don’t know and have to meet. I am working on it, but I’ve never challenged myself to anything like the 5 strangers a day challenge. I think I’ll start that..

  24. I do this all the time! At one point I was starting conversation with atleast 10 people a day, some was just Hey, how u doing? Its fun and builds electrifying confidence. Once after like the 10th person, something happens, something boils and impulsates within you…You feel free, amazing, powerful, @attractive.. To this day I still would recommended people to do this atleast 3 days a week, if not everuday! I am speaking the truth people, it works. ONe time, I was approaching a few people, and i ended up with a few dates, and got laid as well, All because of breaking that shell, once you feel that shell/box breaking out, you are Natural, confident, just wow….but there is a downside, it can be lost…you can lose the power if you don’t keep it up. So keep it up, see a HUGE change in how coworkers treat you, friends, family, the opposite sex treats you..the standing tall part will come automatically, I guarantee you, you wont have to fake anything..And it is painful and hard at first, then it becomes natural, you will b3socially smooth..And ladies thats how you be confident and lose shyness and be ooutgoing, men, thats how you get laid or find a wonderful woman. You Got to break through that social barrier. Thank you, questione email me at lleblanc1986 (at gmail dot com) I will answer questions

  25. I really liked this post. I especially liked the comment about authenticity. If we are putting on a show for the sake of another, we’ll just be stressed out and make things worse on the self-confidence front. I also really like the personal angle to this post, and the experiences of the author. Great way to get people to relate. I think the irony is who is so much better than anyone that we should actually allow our self to not feel comfortable? It’s such an illusion of the ego. Everyone is living in their own little world and doesn’t really care about making you feel bad, for fear of not living up to their own perceived standard of them self! The biggest gem I have come across in relation to confidence building (besides this post of course 😉 is the book ‘The Audacity of Success’ (the name says it all, and it’s about inner success, not outer). Talk about outrageous examples of people breaking down the inner wall of poor confidence and producing outstanding results. Great post, thanks for the share!!

    • Hey, Sedona! Thanks for stopping by. I’m really glad you enjoyed this piece. I try my best to relate with everyone and I think sharing my own experiences naturally allow my lessons to show through.

      I’ll take note of that book. 🙂

      • Hi,Vincent. Thanks for the article. I find that your article is particularly helpful because no other articles from the google searched engine that I read tell me “why” I should fake to be confident instead of “how” to be confident. This might be due my stubbornness, as my mind would refuse to accept and follow whatever if I didn’t know why. Thanks a lot.

  26. I agree exactly with your advice, especially about the part where faking confidence turns into real confidence–it’s amazing. I just stumbled upon your site and I bookmarked it to come back. Keep providing value man, it’s obviously working.

  27. Najeea Murray July 5, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Thank you so much for your free tips. I’ve struggled with my confidence for a while, even though I was forced to talk to strangers all the time at work. This has encouraged me to remember to keep my mindset positive and proactive. I’m excited to really go for it this time. Thanks again. God Bless!:)

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