Essential skills for the modern World

Remember you can do it

Bolstering people's fragile self-confidence is big business in Britain; and with good reason.

While those in the public eye – most of the members House of Commons and everyone who has ever appeared on Big Brother – seem to be suffering from acute overconfidence, a good proportion of the general population is riddled with insecurities. However, there is a reason that a whole host of hypnotherapists, cognitive behavioural therapists and self-help wonks claim to offer the solution to shaky self-confidence: it is not a fixed quantity and can always be improved.

Fake it

You might not feel confident, but by acting it you will reap many of the benefits that true confidence brings; from swifter career progression to more luck in love. Know a man who is ugly as sin and poor as a church mouse but inexplicably popular with the ladies? It's probably down to nothing more than good old-fashioned confidence. Luckily a few simple tricks, such as standing up straighter, meeting others' gazes and smiling more, can make you look self-assured. And if you act confident, you will inspire confidence in others.

Focus on your good points

Try not to be too self-critical. It is easy to focus on your bad points, but this won't help you to be more successful in future. Don't adopt a fatalistic attitude and assume that just because something went wrong once, it will do so again. This is more likely to make bad things repeat themselves. Self-assured people remember past successes and draw on them.

Don't rely on others

Self-esteem is a complicated thing. A survey of 1700 Americans showed that 81 per cent of women said that being good at their jobs and having close family helped their self-esteem more than having a good love life. Don't rely on the approval of others for your sense of self-worth; it is like tying your ego to a rollercoaster.