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What I’ve Learned In 38 Years Of Surrounding Myself With Confident People

Source | FastCompany : By MICHAEL THOMPSON

Growing up with a speech impediment, I was constantly in awe of confident people. Not only the way they talked, but the way that they moved and made me feel when I was around them.

But it didn’t occur to me until much later that the one quality all my friends seemed to share was great confidence. I must have subconsciously chosen to hide behind them as a way to feel protected, to mask my own insecurities. After all, sometimes the safest place for the quietest kid to sit is behind the strongest kid.

Fast forward to age 23, when I did something really stupid: I got a sales job. Finding myself in this intimidating environment, I did what I always did and I buddied up with the most confident people in my office. It wasn’t because I grasped the strategic importance of allying myself with well-liked people, it was just out of instinct—find the most confident people and hide among them.

This recurring defensive move has turned out to be the smartest thing I’ve ever unknowingly done. And after 38 years of doing it, I have picked up on a few common characteristics that are consistent in confident people—and managed to boost my own confidence in the process. Here are a few of those traits.


The truly confident always try to learn about the perspectives, thoughts, and feelings of the people around them, for the simple reasons that they like people and want to do good by them. They possess an “I can and will learn from everyone” attitude, with the belief that everyone has something to bring to the table.

Next time you’re in a group setting, take note of who guides the conversation and how: Who asks the most thoughtful questions, and who listens more than they speak? Confident people don’t need to control a conversation. They know their own agenda; they want to learn about yours.

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