Wish You Were More Bubbly? Try These Tips To Unlock Your Confidence

We've all got that one friend who's outgoing, effusive and never less than cheerful. They're the life of the party and it feels like you never have a boring conversation with them.

These engaging individuals are often described as "bubbly"—and if you're the type who feels shy or intimidated in group settings, it's easy to envy them. Can you overcome these social anxieties and feel more comfortable around other people? Newsweek asked experts in psychology and communication about how to unlock your confidence.

What You Can and Can't Change About Your Personality

Is it possible to fundamentally change your personality? The answer is no, according to Philip Corr, professor of psychology at City, University of London.

"Feeling and behaving are influenced by genetics and neurophysiology, so would be next to impossible to change in the longer run," Corr told Newsweek.

"Of course, an introvert may take a suppressant such as alcohol and become temporarily extroverted. We could encourage the introvert to be more extroverted in behavior but as this would go against their preferred psychological grain, they would not find this easy or comfortable."

Changing these "ingrained patterns" would be "be very difficult, to say the least," according to Corr.

That said, it is possible for people to recognize what kind of personality they have and address potential issues—this is what psychotherapy is for. A person who is "high on the factor of neuroticism," for example, could train themselves to use coping mechanisms that would allow them "not to attend so readily to negative events in the world," he said.

Below, communication experts explain how you can train yourself to appear more bubbly.

Three friends laughing.
A group of friends laugh. Don't try to be someone else in social settings. If you're authentically yourself, you'll feel comfortable. digitalskillet/digitalskillet/Getty

What Characterizes a Bubbly Personality?

Ashley Howard, a professional voice coach and former actor based in the U.K., told Newsweek that the way a person speaks is sending messages about them.

"Things like their breathing, vocal dynamism, how they're using tone and intonation in their voice. I'm thinking about audibility and projection," he said. "Also, their use of language, how they use rhetorical devices and figures of speech."

To come across as bubbly, Howard said you should avoid speaking in a monotone, "sounding samey" in pitch or rhythm, being inexpressive physically and facially, as well as using repetitive or overly explanatory language.

When you're talking to someone and it appears there's not much going on in the voice or the body, you tend to assume that there's not very much going on behind the words, he added. This is an issue he has tackled with numerous clients.

How To Appear More Bubbly, According to Experts

Try these five tips to help with social discomfort.

Be Authentic, Rather Than Trying To Be Someone Else

Matt Matheson, a speaking coach based in Brighton, southern England, pointed out that people perceived as bubbly don't have some secret set of skills—they're simply comfortable being themselves in group settings.

He told Newsweek: "There's an assumption that being confident, or bubbly, or having this certain thing is actually the way you should be. Actually, I don't believe that that's what makes an engaging speaker, or that it's necessarily better than having an introverted personality. In my experience, it's when people realize that's not the aim that they're able to unlock themselves."

The task is not "how can you be like that person? It's, how can you just be yourself and be comfortable and authentic?" he added.

To do this, Matheson suggested using "emotion as a channel." If you find yourself in a conversation stuck for something to say, simply ask yourself: how do I feel about this?

"That will unlock something that's authentic," said Matheson. "In essence, people shouldn't feel like they have to be someone else."

Work on Rapport

"Rapport is a massive one," Matheson said.

People considered bubbly are comfortable when engaged in a tête-à-tête. If you don't feel this way, you should explore how you perceive yourself in relation to others, he suggested. This may involve unpacking your ideas about social status and power hierarchies.

If you're grappling with these issues, "grab a piece of paper and a pen and just write down the answer to the question: how would I speak to this person if I had a very strong relationship?" Matheson said. "Think about it. Because thinking actually leads to a change in behavior."

A man gives a presentation.
A group watches a charismatic colleague give a presentation. Enthusiastic gestures and positive language will engage listeners. fizkes/fizkes/Getty

Aim To Be Dynamic

Like Howard, Laurie Brown began her career as an actor. She is now a speech and presentation trainer, based in Michigan.

"I believe it is very possible to present yourself as a bubbly personality," Brown said. "If I want to be perceived in a certain way, I'm going to use some nonverbal tools to help people subconsciously see me in that way."

Brown likes to break down the ways people experience others into three areas: visual, vocal and verbal. Bubbly people, she said, exhibit some of these behaviors:

  • Using positive words and phrases
  • Speaking with enthusiasm
  • Making enthusiastic gestures and moving their head during conversations
  • Using a range of pitches, tones and rhythms while speaking
  • Ending sentences with an upward pitch
  • Using open body language, such as strong eye contact, to indicate approachability.

Adopting these habits won't change your personality, she pointed out. However, there may be value in practicing them.

"Part of my job is to help people build new muscle memory. As you start practicing things, they become muscle memory. Without question, you can develop skills," she said. "'Fake it till you make it' sounds pejorative. I would argue with the 'fake it' part. Can we call it, 'practice till you make it'?"

Ask Questions and Be Curious

People looking to become more engaging conversationalists should simply be curious, Brown advised.

Many people find social situations uncomfortable because there's an "everybody's looking at me" feeling. This is often accompanied by self-consciousness, followed by self-doubt. One way to deal with this is to make the conversation less about you and more about the person you're talking to, she explained.

"When we are curious, when we're really listening to that other person—so we're not thinking about ourselves and judging ourselves—we're really engaged in the conversation. We're asking relevant open questions because we really are interested," Brown said.

"The other person is going to feel really seen. And what happens is they perceive you as a great conversationalist, even though all you've done is ask questions."

Just Breathe

Do some abdominal breathing before any stressful situation.

This means breathing deeply, with a longer exhalation than inhalation, two or three times. It can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, according to Brown. You can pair this with what she calls "positive self talk."

"Just saying: 'Wow. I love doing this. I love going into a social situation,'" she said. "And we repeat that to ourselves till our brain says, oh yeah, I guess we do."