If you struggle with a lack of self-confidence, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to build up this trait within yourself – and gain the professional and personal benefits that come with it.
We chat to Ivanova Amengor, image consultant and the owner of The Image Refinery, to find out more about how to boost self-confidence.
Tell us a bit about your business and what you specialise in.
The Image Refinery offers comprehensive image management consultations and provides corporate training, with a focus on soft skills, civility, image, style, dining etiquette, communication and social skills. What we mean by comprehensive image management is that our services cover appearance, behaviour and communication. We work on a personal level to determine the client’s needs and help improve their overall image based on their personality, career and aspirations.
Personal shopping and styling are subsets of what we do. We help individuals build their wardrobes by working with fashion designers to create pieces specifically designed for our clients. So if someone is confused when it comes to clothes shopping, we come in handy. We determine the colours that enhance their skin complexions and eye and hair colours, as well as recommend styles that complement their body shapes. We also help clients find accessories that work for them and choose a suitable hairstyle by doing a face shape analysis.
What lead you to become an image consultant?
When I watch people on TV or see folks in my everyday life, I have a habit of analysing their appearance and either praising them in my mind or imagining what they could have done to present themselves better. I’m also conscious of how I look and behave in both private and public places, and I always try to improve on my self-presentation. I had this trait even before I decided to take up a career in image consulting. Prior to my image consulting training with Image Innovators SA, I read a lot on the subject and invested in materials that gave me great insight into the area. I am attracted to and admire well-mannered, refined individuals, so I think I have a natural disposition towards this career.
What is self-confidence and why is it important?
Simply put, self-confidence is a positive belief in one’s self and abilities. It is a very important soft skill that is crucial for success in life. Self-confidence provides opportunities and benefits for people in their professional and personal lives. It is important to note that self-confidence does not mean the absence of fear. The feeling of fear is an emotion everyone experiences in life, but the ability to choose your convictions and beliefs over fear and rise to the occasion is true self-confidence.
How does someone know if they have a lack of self-confidence?
There are many ways a lack of self-confidence manifests. Here are some things to look out for:
- Socially withdrawn.
- Accepting the opinions of others even when you disagree.
- Lack of eye contact during conversations.
- Inability to stand up for yourself.
- Allowing yourself to be bullied or disrespected by others.
- Neglecting your appearance.
- Inability to take up challenges and opportunities.
- Extreme and uncontrolled nervousness.
How is a person’s image related to their self-confidence?
As social beings, we are judged by our image or appearance first and foremost. And whether we like it or not, we are treated according to the way we are judged. Within the first few seconds of seeing us, people try to assess our educational level, economic standing, social position, character and even trustworthiness based on our appearance. This is termed “the threshold effect” by social psychologists.
Your outward appearance has a direct correlation with your self-confidence. If you are well-dressed, you feel good about yourself, so people will admire and respect you and this boosts your self-confidence.
What are some things a person can do to grow their self-confidence?
- Practice positive self talk.
- Dress to suit your body type and the occasion.
- Listen to your inner critic and take appropriate actions.
- Have a mental picture of who you want to become and work towards achieving that.
- Confront your fears by doing what scares you. Practice makes perfect.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. We only learn from our failures.
- Learn from those who do it better than you.
- Have accountability partners who will put you in check and give you honest feedback.
- If you need to put on a performance, practice several times before the occasion until you become comfortable. Preparation is everything.
- Believe in yourself.
- Take action.
- Be on time.
What are some tips for appearing confident in uncomfortable situations?
First of all, you need to acknowledge that not every situation will be a comfortable one. If you happen to find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, the best thing to do is to remain calm, confident and take appropriate action. Remaining calm helps you to make good decisions, even in tough situations – and it’s self-confidence that will help you to stay calm and act appropriately.
For example, if you accidentally spill food on your dress at dinner, there is no need to get jittery or overwhelmed by the mishap. Simply excuse yourself to the washroom and put your self back in order. Another example is if someone asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, politely let them know that you don’t know. People will respect you for your truthfulness rather than giving an answer you’re not sure of or appearing flustered and embarrassed. After all, no one knows everything!