How Do You Inspire Confidence From Others? Do These 5 Things to Be a Go-To Person

UPDATED: June 8, 2023
PUBLISHED: January 25, 2016

“I have confidence in you.”

This is one of the greatest compliments you can receive. It’s another way of saying “I trust you,” “I value your expertise,” “You make me feel sure we will get there.”

Related: 14 Ways to Build (and Lose) Trust

Inspiring confidence from others is an essential ingredient for any trusting relationship—friends, family members, spouses, teachers, team members, clients.

Candidates for the presidency participate in debates and town halls with one goal: to build your confidence in them so you they can get your vote. But will their words match their actions? Will yours?

Inspiring confidence relies on honoring commitments and partnership—doing the things you say you’ll do. But it’s easy to lose that confidence with small actions and decisions that undermine that trust. Here are 5 ways to be the go-to person, and the one people say they have confidence in:

1. Rely on calm and steady.

Those who keep their cool in chaotic times help others do the same. There is tremendous value in keeping calm when emotions run high, the deadline is moved up or the perfect plan just took a detour. Staying calm helps ensure that emotions aren’t winning the day as much as solving the real problem at hand.

I once worked with someone who often arrived late, always talking about her crazy day. Her demeanor regularly undermined her before the conversation even began, and, without realizing the impact it was having, she let the emotional swirl become her “go-to” habit.

Take a deep breath. Pause and think. Even in fast paced, hectic environments, bring a calm and thoughtful mindset. This approach will help make sure everyone remembers the real issue rather than all of the distractions.

2. Show consistency in your thinking and decision-making.

A thread through your conversations based on rationale and thought builds confidence that you remember what matters. Of course, we all change our minds when new information emerges. This evolution in thought is part of learning more. Help others see how your views have evolved and why.

A former boss of mine often didn’t remember what he had requested in our prior conversation, and his viewpoints changed dramatically in almost every conversation. This unpredictability eroded trust and also made our team question his reasoning skills.

Let your rationale—not the emotion of the day—create an underlying thread in your conversations.

3. Respect time.

The simplest way to have others lose confidence in you is in not respecting their time. Show up unprepared or late and you’ve just signaled that you can’t be counted on.

Yes there will be time when the freeway is shutdown or your flight was delayed. Make those the rare exception and share this information so that it’s clear the delay couldn’t have been anticipated or avoided.

Otherwise plan ahead and leave early to allow for delays. Research the location before you go. Confirm you have the right address. Be proactive. Pre-plan. These are the simplest actions but also the easiest to undermine yourself.

4. Listen to others with enthusiasm.

Listening communicates that you don’t have all of the answers—that you need others. And asking questions instills confidence because you value what others have to say.

Related: How to Speak Well… and Listen Better

Recently a leader I know spoke to his team on a significant change that had produced a fair amount of anxiety. And did he speak—for 45 minutes straight. He asked one question as he was standing to leave the room: “Any questions?” After a short pause, he was off to the next thing. Regardless of what he had to say, he didn’t listen to anyone else.  Any confidence others had in him was long gone.

5. Pause and think before you speak.

Clearly work is fast paced and requires quick thinkers. Even so, make sure you think about what matters, options and then act. You can be both thoughtful and quick at making decisions—they are not mutually exclusive. You build confidence in others when you return to important principles and priorities that drive wise decisions.

These small decisions and acts will help others be confident counting on you and relying on your judgment.

Patti Johnson is a career and workplace expert and the CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human resources consulting firm she founded in 2004. Previously, she was a senior executive at Accenture and has been recently featured as an expert in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times,NBC, Money Magazine and Working Mother. Patti is also an instructor for SMU Executive Education and a keynote speaker on “Leading Change.” Her first book, Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work & in Life, hit shelves in May 2014. Visit her website at