Building Confidence. Yours and Others.

Have you filled a bucket todayOne of my favorite books to read to students is “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud. The reason why I like this book is because it encourages kids to think about how their words and actions affect others. The premise is that everyone has a bucket to demonstrate their self-esteem, which can be impacted by how others treat them. When someone else offers them a kind word or does something nice for them, their bucket is filled (aka they think and feel good about themselves); in contrast, when someone says or does something mean to them, their bucket becomes empty, hence they begin to lack self-confidence and feel badly about themselves. Now before you start rolling your eyes about how juvenile and sappy this article sounds, think about your own experiences building confidence as an adult when it comes to work, relationships, family, and friends.

How have you felt when your boss has ripped you a new one over a project that you’d worked really hard on? Is that building confidence? What about if your boss praised you and told you how much you’re appreciated? I’ve experienced both extremes; at my old job, I’d start to get anxious anytime I heard my boss’ high heels clacking down the hallway because I’d wonder if I was next on her list of people to harass and humiliate. In stark contrast to this, the administrators at my current job often give me what I like to call verbal high fives – every time I meet with them, I come out of that experience feeling respected and valued. I love working at a place where I regularly hear “We’re so glad you’re here.” Believe me, it’s made a huge difference in my stress levels and overall quality of life.  Jim Rohn once said, “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” This is building confidence! Research has shown that people perform better when they feel that their boss is fair, affirming, and collaborative. If you’re a leader at your company, recognize your employees’ strengths and give them learning opportunities to improve in areas of weakness. So what do you do if your boss is more like my former one? Try to make the best of the situation until you’re able to find a position in a better work environment. There is no point in staying in a job that makes you miserable – as terrible as the economy is, you never know when the right job opportunity may be presented to you, so give it a shot and put your resume out there.

Guys, rule #1 when it comes to relationships: you can never compliment your girlfriend too much. When my boyfriend tells me that he thinks I’m beautiful or that he loves what I made for dinner, it literally makes my day. You’re building confidence in her and she’ll want to keep doing things for you. I promise it’s not something that women take for granted and it can have a profound effect on your relationships.  It’s been said that women want to feel cherished, while men want to feel admired. Instead of noticing the stain on her shirt or that the rice got a little burned, let her know how much you appreciate the fact that she took the time to cook for you. In turn, she’ll likely respond in a way that makes you feel loved and respected.confidence

People tend to let their guard down the most around their families. This is because we assume that no matter what we say or do, our family members will still love us. Our parents usually get the brunt of our negative behavior (for example, whining, complaining, criticizing, etc.), especially if they say or do things that we find embarrassing. While this might seem basic, our parents are people too and oftentimes their sacrifices don’t get fully appreciated until we become parents ourselves and have a better idea of what they went through. If you’re not at that point yet, take a moment to think about how your parents have supported and encouraged you in the past, then let them know! A simple card, e-mail, phone call, or text can go a long way in making your parents feel valued! As for siblings, I’ve noticed that those with the strongest relationships tend to be between brothers and sisters who are supportive of one another, rather than intensely competitive. This isn’t to say that a little friendly competition is bad, but when siblings get stuck in a pattern of viewing each other as “the competition,” it can cause a lot of resentment and frustration.  Making the effort to see your sister’s play or treating your brother to dinner when he gets a promotion at work will go a long way in strengthening your family bond. As they say, friends may come and go, but you’ll always have family.

It seems pretty common for male friends to bond over teasing and messing with each other. The key is to make sure that the teasing doesn’t cross the line where the recipient ends up feeling like he’s always the butt of the joke. There’s a difference between laughing along vs. being laughed at. No one likes to feel like the loser that their friends are always making fun of, so try to keep a balance of joking around and encouraging/supporting your friend. Be the friend that’s building confidence. Being a good friend doesn’t make you less of a dude – if anything, more people will be drawn to you because you’ve proven that you relate well to others.building-confidence

Think about it this way: people want to spend time around those who make them feel good about themselves. This doesn’t mean that you have to wander around saying, “Wow man, you’re so awesome!” to every person you meet, but there’s something to be said for having the ability to make other people feel special and valued. As the book says, “You feel good when you help others feel good,” so it’s really a win-win situation. In order to make a positive difference in this world, we must live our lives with intention and purpose. So, let me ask you, have you filled someone’s bucket today? Are you building confidence in others?


  1. “Guys, rule #1 when it comes to relationships: you can never compliment your girlfriend too much. When my boyfriend tells me that he thinks I’m beautiful or that he loves what I made for dinner, it literally makes my day.” Great point Ashley, I could not agree more! I am not perfect by any means, but I always try and say something like this to my wife every day. I am called to love her and serve her as well as encourage her. Words can be a very powerful thing, especially when meant to encourage.

    • Ashley’s traveling today so I thought I’d reply in her place. 🙂

      I totally agree with your comment of serving, loving and encouraging. Words definitely are powerful. They can build up or tear down.

  2. One the reverse side, when a guy compliments his lady, she should accept it! My wife recently read one of those lists of “ten things you don’t know about your guy” At number 4 was that if she doesn’t accept it when they guy says she is beautiful, he is less likely to say it again.

    • Good point! This might be something us as men will have to learn to tactfully explain to our significant other if she doesn’t accept it.

  3. I think guys struggle with giving compliments more. In our minds, we have given a compliment before so we don’t have to do it again (“Hey honey, you know you look great. I told you that last month.”) That’s not going to cut it for most women.

    I’m a teacher so I see in the classroom every day the power positive words have to build confidence or brighten a child’s outlook on life. I have also coached basketball for years and felt my players performed better when I was praising them rather than tearing them down for mistakes.

  4. THis is awesome. Great guest post. And it does sound sappy, for sure, but it’s good and true. I’ll keep giving my buddies a hard time, because that’s what we do, but it is definitely importnat to make sure they know that they’re cool and it’s all friendly fun.

    • TB, you’re right…it is important that we can all have a good laugh but not when it goes too far at someones expense. We have to be aware of how far is too far.

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