You may have heard this before “Ask for something and the worst answer you’ll get is ‘no’.” or “you miss 100% of shots you don’t take.” Yeah. I don’t know how much the latter makes sense when you break it down, but you get the gist.

Confidence and getting what you want to go hand in hand

Confidence is seriously lacking in people these days. It’s not even a generational thing, it’s a people young and old thing. I hear stories from friends about overpaying for an item in fear of hurting the salesperson’s feelings or they overhear someone discussing a job opportunity and don’t ask about it. I respond with a stank face, “Why didn’t you say something?”.

And the answer is always, “I didn’t want to.”

At one point, I was the same way. And then I started asking for things and getting them. It wasn’t luck. I just started doing the thing my dad used to pay me $5 to stop doing…talking. 

Talk the talk

I started off small. Asking a math teacher for extra credit writing assignments because my grades were awful. He actually said okay. I would go around to different businesses at 14 years old asking for a part-time job. Did some places laugh at me? Yep. Did my feeling get hurt? You bet. But eventually, I started my new job at pizzeria answering phones.

I moved on to an amazing career at Starbucks (I love that company) where I opened myself up to new connections. I started talking to customers on a daily basis, getting to know them. Some turned into friends and others were connections. With my part-time job at Starbucks, I was able to land 2 full-time jobs just because I talked to people.

5 Tips on gaining confidence

You probably think I’m crazy because I’m telling you that talking is the key to confidence. But it is. Let’s cover some steps to help you start building that confidence to get ahead in life.

Get over your fear of rejection

I still struggle with this one. Feeling down after rejection is completely normal, but its part of life. Instead of getting visibly mad or upset, shrug your shoulders and say “I figured I’d ask/try”. Over time, the blow will lessen and it’s a good confidence builder. When your insecurities get the best of you, sulk privately and move the hell on to the next. This practice takes some time, but you have to exercise that rejection muscle to make it stronger.

Let’s work on those insecurities while were at it.

Do one simple thing for yourself and stop apologizing. This LifeHacker article does a great job explaining this in-depth. To sum it up, by stopping the constant “sorry” reaction, you are boosting your own self-confidence instead of constantly being agreeable and a pushover. It doesn’t matter if what the apology is for, big or small. Stop explaining yourself and stop apologizing unless it is absolutely necessary. People don’t look at you as kind, they look at you like a doormat. This is crucial in the way people view you and that trickles down to how you feel about yourself. 

Ignore mom’s advice and talk to strangers

With complete strangers you don’t have to look at, that is. Think of this as a practice run. Pick a bill, like your cell phone or a credit card with a high-interest rate. Call customer service and say this:
“Hi, how are you today? I was calling today to see if you guys were offering any special promotions. I was looking to lower my (interest rate/cell phone bill/etc) to help save me some money. I’m a long-time customer and I always pay my bills on time. Can you help me in any way?”

You might be nervous, but eventually, getting rid of that fear will help so much with talking to actual human beings. If the first company says no, call another company. My internet provider is tough with discounts but if I call DirectTV, I almost always get something, even a little $5 credit. Its nothing personal towards you if they say NO. (once, you get good at doing this, I will have to share how I got DirectTV NFL Sunday Ticket Max for my husband, Enrique FOR FREE!) Not only are you giving yourself a little ego boost, but you’re also saving yourself money. Go on with your bad self!

Pay someone a compliment.

So far, we’ve covered not saying sorry for someone running over your foot with a shopping cart and you shaved $20 off your cell phone bill. Now, go make someone’s day and say something nice. Is someone holding a pretty dress in the checkout line at Target? Let them know. Notice someone has really great curly hair (and yours is always a hot mess aka: me)? Ask them what products they use. This will not only boost your confidence in approaching people, but it also opens you up to opportunities, makes others feel good, and maybe a new brand of mousse to try. The roles were reversed when someone approached me about being a great runner at the gym. It opened us up to a conversation about my novice running experience and I was able to share my blog with her.

Work on the bigger approaches.

You’re at Target, buying an espresso machine. It’s $80 cheaper on when you price match on the app but you need this thing right now. Go to customer service and ask for a price adjustment. Guess what? They’re most likely going to give it to you. (that’s a true story). Go bigger…You overhear someone say they work for a company you’d love to work at and they’re hiring. Approach them. Yes, it’s crazy. “Hi, I overheard you mention (insert company name here). Do you work for them? That’s such a great company! I’ve been looking at them online. Could I send you my resume?” They’ll be so taken aback, they will probably say sure. I’ve done it and never been turned down. Did I always get a callback? No. But I created that moment of opportunity for myself.

Fake it ’til you make it

You’re still scared, I know. But practice makes perfect and that’s why I’m telling you to start small. Rejection is a real thing that we all deal with, but you have to face it head-on. I can’t sugar coat that anymore for you (sorry not sorry). I’ll be the first to admit, I have a hard time dealing with confrontation when it comes to things like asking for my boss for a raise. I was even scared to tell her I was pregnant after working for 3 years. But when I did face my fears and just had the talk, I wasn’t rejected. While I sat there and doubted myself, my pseudo confidence that I built over the years outshone my insecurities. And people take notice of that.

Lastly, don’t forget to pay it forward. If someone approaches you, help them out. If you see an opportunity that could be good for someone else, jump on it. My mom helped my brother land an amazing job by striking up a conversation with someone on a plane. You just never know who you’re sitting next to.

It’s not always about what you know; it’s about who you know. Confidence in yourself to be able to talk to someone is the greatest tool in achieving what you want in life.