A friend of mine recently asked me to define what I thought women meant when they say they look for confidence in a man. Why do so many women say they find confidence attractive and yet find the brash brother arrogance so off-putting? What is the difference? And how do you go about being confident, when you’re not a very extroverted person?  

The answer is quite simple, but not that easy to internalise, which is I guess why a lot of men looking to impress women turn to dating advice sites that are often rife with pick up artist tricks and techniques. The problem with this type of thing is that even though it sometimes works – especially in the short run – the entire concept is based on trickery and faking. And there is something undeniably icky about falsifying your personality to get someone to like you.

Sure, I know - everybody does it to some extent. Obviously when you want someone to like you, whether it’s for a date or a job interview, you want to present your best self. BUT – the key here is that it still has to be yourself.

And that for me is the crux: confidence is about authenticity.

Confidence is being your true self, the self you are at your core. Even if that self is shy, a bit awkward or an introvert. Think of the difference between a nervous teenager who hasn’t really developed his personality yet and a nervous adult who has. Confidence is being in touch with your own disaster, and liking yourself despite your flaws.

If you accept, appreciate and empathise with yourself, chances are other people will too. Being confident is having enough self-worth and self-knowledge to know that people will find you interesting, lovable and worthy of love, despite your shortcomings and mistakes.

I’ve asked the others around the office how they define confidence and this is what they said. (Oh, tell us how you would describe it, and you could win a t-shirt and a nail polish!)

Aneeqah: When he’s comfortable being himself around you and everyone else.

Marisa: I would say confidence in the sense that the man is not clingy, he trusts you to go your own way. He is not jealous or over protective. He is confident in you and your relationship that he backs off when he needs to and is there when he needs to be.

Carmen: Confidence is honesty, authenticity and wanting something enough to try for it. Whether he’s shy, or a little brash. I think it’s also knowing yourself well enough to ask for what you want.

Caira-Lee: Some men overcompensate by being overly confident...that’s not sexy. Sexy confidence: a firm handshake, humour and the ability to laugh at himself. Confidence has direction. A goal. And the ability to know which tools to use to reach that goal.

Chanté: I think it’s in their kindness, gentleness and pureness of heart. One of the things I look for in a man is their ability to respect the spirit world and to think with his heart. It takes a lot to do this because it takes a lot to be that confident in your own soul.