How To Be Humble And Confident (According To 9 Experts)

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
Updated on 23 October 2020
Expert Content

Is it possible to be both humble and confident at the same time?

We asked a selected group of experts to deliver their best advice when it comes to being both humble and confident.

Here’s what they said.

True Confidence Leads To Humility

David Bennett, Certified Hypnotist and Life Coach

A lot of people think that humility and confidence aren’t compatible, but in many ways, true confidence leads to humility.

If you are truly confident in something, then you have nothing to prove to anybody, and thus you are free to be fully humble.

My experience is that arrogance is a sign of deep-down insecurity. The best way to cultivate confidence along with humility is to come to see your worth and value as a person.

When you truly love yourself, you have nothing to prove to anybody, and will take joy in whatever you do. It’s only when you feel inadequate that you are arrogant.

Another way to encourage both confidence and humility is to practice empathy.

Empathy allows you to see the struggles and challenges that others may face in trying to achieve what you have achieved.


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Being Confident Isn’t The Same As Being Cocky

Anjani Amladi, Psychiatrist

Humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive terms.

Confidence and pride in one’s abilities and accomplishments is a marker of self-esteem and self-worth.

The word ‘confident’ is often misconstrued as ‘cockiness’, when it should be more accurately attributed to a person’s innate capabilities.

Internalization of confidence is more consistent with humility as opposed to externalized displays of confidence which can be seen by others as obnoxious.

Being humble means that you have satisfied your own internal expectations and as such do not need to broadcast your success to others.

The ability to take pride in your accomplishments without bragging is a graceful embodiment of confidence and humility.

Mindset Is Everything

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Confident People Have Compassion Towards Others And Themselves

Meredith Prescott, Psychotherapist at Prescott Psychotherapy and Wellness

Approachability is key! How do others feel about coming to you for advice or when they have an issue? You can help someone else without them feeling like you are condescending or intimidating.

Another way is by being emotionally intelligent. People who are emotionally intelligent are often aware of their abilities. They are cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses. They can feel good about their abilities without off-putting others.

Confident people let their abilities do the talking for them. They let others notice their abilities without having to remind others.

Lastly, compassion is key here. Have compassion for others that are different than you. Not everyone has your same life experiences.

Confident people have compassion towards others and themselves. They are able to show up in the world with humility and grace.

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Become An Amateur Reporter

Wendy Toth, Career Coach and Editor-in-Chief of PowerSuiting

If you want a fun, unforced way to be both humble confident, become an amateur reporter.

I know it works because I’ve been in journalism for 15 years, and in that time I’ve had the privilege of speaking with so many people I admire.

The role helped me build genuine relationships with many of them by using my curiosity. Work to be genuinely interested in the other person. Ask them questions about themselves that you can apply to your own life, such as how they got started in their career, or how they manage their time.

To be confident, prepare a few questions ahead of time. Being humble, then, is a built-in outcome of being curious.

You’re admitting at the outset that you can learn something from the person you’re speaking with. People love this! No one can resist when you take a genuine interest in them.

The best part: If you’re patient, they will eventually reciprocate.

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True Humility Is The Source Of Confidence

Rev. Dr. Rick Patterson, Author of Shame Unmasked: Disarming the Hidden Driver Behind our Destruction Decisions

False humility is sourced in shame and can degrade our ability to function well in society and stealing our confidence is certainly one potential outcome.

Taken too far, shame induced responses can even whiplash the other direction and create Narcissistic and grandiose responses that can look like confidence but are actually simply a projection of a false self that we secretly wish we were.

To unlock true confidence, it’s important to access true humility, which is a courageous act of self-acceptance of one’s total self.

We must then vanquish shame induced false humility such that we realize that precisely because of our real or perceived failures and flaws we have a great deal to offer the world.

We are challenged today to equate Narcissism with confidence when, in fact, Narcissism is driven by fear.

Instead, we can look to history and see how people like Gandhi, Confucius, the 14th Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus of Nazareth (to name a few) showed us how true confidence comes from humility.

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Think About What Makes A Good Leader

Rick Ornelas, Business Coach and Personal Success Mentor

To fully understand how to be both humble and confident you need to first understand that the answer lies within what it takes to be a good leader.

Leadership is changing in the modern world. Gone are the days where a leader could merely bark a command and others would jump to the task.

Modern leadership is being humble enough to understand that you need help from others and knowing that the best way to accept that help if from the position of a servant.

By being a servant first you show others that you care. You show that you truly want to know them and work collaboratively with them to; create, solve problems, grow, and evolve.

It is through these actions that you support those around you by serving them with a humble heart. This is where you have an environment where everyone wins.

Once this positive environment is established then egos are gone and the leader and others can be at their confident best without conflict.

If there’s no expectation of conflict then everyone opens up and this is where the real magic happens.

This is where everyone can operate at their optimal self without fear or negativity getting in the way.

Everyone learns from those around them and everyone is eager to improve themselves to see how high they can soar. This is real confidence and not pseudo confidence or worse, arrogance.

Honestly, I’ve only seen it happen on a few occasions in my career and it was very special.

Unfortunately, we are all human and egos oftentimes get in the way. It is only when we realize that by putting others first we are the one that really wins.

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People Who Display Genuine Confidence Are Humble

Laura Richer, Therapist at the Anchor Light Therapy Collective

It is common to think that confidence and humility are separate traits that cannot coexist. The reality is that they can and do exist simultaneously.

That is because people who display genuine confidence are humble. When a person is confident in themselves, meaning they know their self-worth, they do not need to make themselves superior to others.

They also do not need to exhibit an inflated sense of self-importance.

People who value themselves and their abilities can more easily appreciate and create space for others without feeling threatened or needing to be better.

The first step towards being both humble and confident is to realize that you are no better and no worse than anyone else.

The second step is to be curious. People with the traits of being both humble and confident typically display behaviors such as asking questions about others with genuine curiosity and valuing what others have to contribute

The third step is to appreciate differences. Humble, confident people speak their minds without needing others to agree with their perspective.

Lastly, the humble and confident share their skills and talents freely without arrogance or hubris.

How To Focus On Yourself

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Confidence And Humility Are Two Different Ideas

Anthony Babbitt, PhD(c), MS of Babbitt Consulting

Confidence and humility are two different ideas, so let’s deal with them individually.

Humility is usually mistaken for seeing oneself as less than others, but this is far from the truth. Humility is about seeing oneself accurately, as neither better nor worse than anyone else.

Humility is just as much about not putting yourself above others as it is about not putting yourself below them. To be humiliated does not mean to put down or belittled. It means to be reminded of one’s humanity and brought down from a false pedestal.

A humble person can never be humiliated since they never put themselves above others! At its root, humility is about equality.

Humility recognizes that everyone excels in certain areas but also lacks in others.

In a word, they recognize that they, and everyone else, are human.

For instance, Michael Jordan is better at basketball than me, but that does not make him better. I have my own talents, skills, and abilities which are not diminished by the abilities of anyone else.

A true meritocracy relies on humble people (which is why you see few examples of true meritocracies and none on a large scale).

Everyone has prejudices, whether learned or chosen. So everyone tends to not see everyone as equal but to different degrees. For this reason, humility is measured in degrees.

It is not a binary condition where you’re either humble or not. As you grow the circle of equality constructed in your mind so it includes more and more people, your humility grows.

Confidence, on the other hand, is a belief in one’s abilities or capabilities.

When a situation appears and someone feels capable of addressing it, they are said to be confident because they believe they can handle the situation appropriately.

By this logic, overconfidence means that a person who should not be confident is confident while underconfidence means a person who should be confident is not.

Underconfidence exhibits itself in things like imposter syndrome, where a person feels vastly unqualified for their position. Note that this is different from being unqualified.

An unqualified person would rightly feel no confidence. However, because they have no ability to address a situation, they can not be said to be underconfident.

Only an able person can feel underconfident since underconfidence relies on having some ability to handle a situation.

However, an unqualified person can feel overconfident when the confidence in their abilities does not apply to the present situation (e.g., a skilled surgeon taking the helm of a commercial aircraft). Generally, confidence is like trust. It is acquired over time. As one handles more and more situations effectively, confidence tends to grow.

Since confidence is based in experience, you see many fascinating results.

For instance, let’s assume you have a heart surgeon with a 95 per cent survival rate and whose patients recover within two months. Another heart surgeon has a 98 per cent survival rate but his patients recover after 4 months. Which heart surgeon would you prefer? Most people will go with a higher survival rate.

In life, though, things are not so clear. You could have two potential dating partners, both of whom would be good choices. However, by definition, you will be happier with one.

In business, you may have two successful people to choose from when hiring. One will also be better. There is no way to know which!

Regardless, in all of these scenarios, the people should all be confident. I point this out because confidence has more to do with adequate outcomes than optimal outcomes.

When you hire an attorney, you want one who will get you acquitted or negotiate the best contract. Two attorneys may both be capable of accomplishing your goals, but one will do it for less money.

Most people focus on the outcome, not the cost. As a result, both attorneys will rightly be confident, although one would be better for the situation.

To bring all of this together, my point is that confidence is something you can hold, even if someone else may be better.

Confidence is warranted if past experience suggests you can handle a situation effectively.

Humility is about understanding that your ability does not make you better, or worse, than anyone else.

So a rockstar heart surgeon is not better than the nurse assisting, just differently able.

The prince is not better than a pauper or vice versa. The pauper is certainly confident in his panhandling skills, while the prince may confidently rate fine foods and wine. To switch places, neither would be confident.

And herein lies the rub. We only tend to recognize these traits when things do not go as planned. When a person consistently handles a situation well, they tend to be confident. However, when the 95 per cent survival rate doctor loses a patient (as he does 1 in 20 times), we can assume he entered those operations with the same confidence as usual.

Obviously, only in that five per cent of cases was he overconfident. In the other 95 per cent of cases, he was appropriately confident.

Similarly, we only tend to recognize humility where we see it out of place. When you see photos of the US president reading to children in school, we say he is humble.

When we see a movie star serving soup at a soup kitchen, we say she is humble. Humility is typically only recognized when others see someone as their better, while that person sees only equality.

Thinking Thoughts

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Focus On Being A Great Listener

Karen Donaldson, Communication and Body Language Expert and Certified Confidence Coach

First, know that being confident and humble means two things – one, you believe that you deserve to succeed, and two, no one has to lose for you to win.

To show up confidently and humble, one must trust in their own abilities and steer away from comparing themselves against others.

When you trust that you are “enough” as is, you celebrate others and don’t feel intimidated when other take the spotlight. In truth, you celebrate them and their wins just as you would celebrate yourself.

There is a big misconception that you have to be the loudest and the boldest person in the room to showcase your confidence. That is completely incorrect.

Never focus on being the loudest in the room, focus on being a great listener.

Confident people don’t have anything to prove and appreciate the various thoughts and opinions that others bring to conversations.

They’re genuinely in interested in people and different perspectives. They see it as an opportunity for them learn and grow.

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