Confident Or Faking It?

Most of you readily sense others’ confidence, but, if asked, could you name the characteristics that enable you to determine whether the person is confident or faking it?

Here are some characteristics that I believe will help you make that determination.


Confident people smile a lot. People often comment on their smile because it seems to be ever-present and genuine. Their smile indicates that life is easy for them, not because they suffer fewer challenges than the rest of us, but because they know they’re equipped to handle anything that comes their way. In other words, they lead life joyfully.


People who are consistently confident encourage others by highlighting strengths that they possess and assuring them that they can indeed make their dreams come true. Confident people usually offer:

  • Assistance in helping others overcome obstacles they face.
  • Guidance that will help others avoid pitfalls.
  • Ideas that help others accelerate the realization of their dreams.

They do these things because they want others to experience the joy they experience on a daily basis.


Confident people don’t compare themselves to others. They recognize that we all come with different skills, abilities and interests. When confident people encounter someone who does something similar to what they do, they encourage them in their efforts. They do so because they know that no one can take their skills, abilities and commitment to excellence from them. Confident people do not view others with similar abilities as competitors; they view them as potential teachers who can assist them in improving their own previous personal best.


Consistently confident people rarely talk about their accomplishments, they let their success speak for itself. Confident people don’t need recognition for their accomplishments; knowing that they’ve succeeded is enough for them. Confident people also make sure that others are recognized for their successes, insights and sage advice; they live Colin Powell’s statement: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”


You know that a person is confident and not faking it when they readily admit their mistakes and offer advice to others to help them avoid falling victim to the same mistake. Confident people also have a knack for being honest with someone and still be encouraging. Their candid feedback is often couched in how they learned the lesson, thus assuring the person that they are not alone in employing unproductive behaviors.

Confident people also regularly hear others say to them “I don’t always agree with you, but I always know where I stand with you.” In my opinion, some of the highest praise any of us can receive.


Confident people realize that control is an illusion; they can’t control anything other than their own behavior. That’s why they focus on influencing others instead of controlling them. Their unwillingness to control others is also a sign of the respect they have for others’ right to make their own choices…whether or not they agree with their choices.


Another sign that a person is confident and not faking it, is that they are open to others’ input. Confident people know that they don’t have all the answers much less the best answers. They appreciate others’ input even when they don’t agree with it. They know that the vast majority of people are trying to help…even when their language may sound denigrating.


Confident people are always available to people in need. There are several reasons why they are so accessible.

First, they need nothing. There are many things that they desire, but they never allow desire to elevate to need. They know that they will accomplish their goal, so helping someone in need is a higher priority for them.

Second, helping others takes precedence over their own desires because they already feel fulfilled. While they continue to enjoy pursuing their dreams, they are content with what they’ve accomplished and who they are.

Finally, for the religious among you, C.S. Lewis in his book, A Year With C.S. Lewis (opens in a new link), reminds us that when we roil against interruptions, we’ve forgotten that it’s not our time, it’s God’s time. Whether or not confident people are religious, they realize that there is no better use of time than in the service of others. They realize that when they benefit others, they benefit themselves as well.

While there are many other indicators that a person is confident, I’ll end here in the interest of (near) brevity and respect for your time.

For you

My goal in writing this post is twofold; to help you:

  1. Identify fakes before you fall victim to them.
  2. Improve your confidence.

The first goal is obvious. Whether intentional or not, someone faking confidence is misleading you, which may have unpleasant consequences for you.

The second goal is designed to help you identify which characteristics you exhibit regularly and which may need some attention for you to be more genuinely confident.

If you exhibit all of these characteristics, congratulations! You are living a joyful life. If not, choose a characteristic you’d like to improve upon. Then for the next week follow this routine:

  • Shortly after rising, commit yourself to being more [characteristic].
  • Shortly before retiring, review your success that day. Then review the instances in which you weren’t as successful as you’d hoped and make a mental note of what you’ll do differently in the future.

Within a week, you’ll notice a marked change in the way you think. You’ll find that you’re more regularly exhibiting the characteristic than you were just a week prior.

Next, choose another characteristic you’d like to improve and follow the same routine. You’ll find that life gets easier and more enjoyable as you become consistent in thinking and acting congruently with your newfound confidence.

For our kids

When you see kids struggling with confidence, share with them the characteristics outlined above. Ask them which they’d like to be better at. Then share with them the above routine. In the process of sharing this advice, I’m confident that you’ll share with them what you gained from employing these exercises…including the challenges you faced in doing so. That’s what confident people do.

Don’t forget to live this message. Kids will mimic your behavior.

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Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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