Confidence is somewhat elusive. For some, confidence comes naturally, but for many it’s harder to attain – especially in unfamiliar situations. Whether you lack confidence in your professional life or in social settings, giving your confidence level a boost can dramatically change the way people perceive you.
Friendly reminder: You decide how you put yourself out there – if you walk into a situation where you feel uncomfortable – you don’t have to show people that you feel uncomfortable. You’ve probably heard the expression “fake it till you make it.” Right now, the objective is to appear confident, even if you really aren’t, and there are several tricks you can do to accomplish this.
Take up space.
Take up space by standing tall, keeping your shoulders back, and even putting your hands on your hips. This promotes deeper breathing (who doesn’t need oxygen?), better back support, and it’s going to make you look and feel more confident. People who slouch or minimize their personal space tend to be viewed as unconfident – even subconsciously. There is even what’s known as “power poses” that stimulate positive hormonal and behavioral changes. Its science. And if you don’t believe in science – you’ve got bigger issues than this article can solve.
Make eye contact.
Eye contact is essential for increasing your perceived confidence. Without it you’ll come across as nervous or inattentive. When speaking, look into the person’s eyes, or if you’re in front of many people, alternate between them. It’s also important to maintain eye contact when another person is speaking. Breaking eye contact or looking around, makes you seem uninterested. Don’t stare people down like you’re a serial killer – let your eye contact break now and then.
Fidgeting is a the number one giveaway of someone with low confidence. Whether it’s a nervous leg-jiggling habit or wild hand gestures, most of us do it without even realizing it. Try to stand still and only move in a deliberate way. Practice with someone you know and ask him/her to identify any peculiar quirks you may not notice about yourself. Keep your hands visible and try to move them only now and then. Don’t be tempted to hide your hands in your pockets or folding your arms. Keep them visible to appear more confident.
Speak slowly and clearly.
Speaking too quickly or softly makes you appear nervous. Speaking slowly and clearly makes you seem self-assured. Take your time with your sentences – it gives you time to come up with better word choices. But there’s also nothing wrong with a little bit of silence. Too many people condemn the “awkward silence” as an indicator of bad conversation, but it’s actually a useful social tool. Use silences to your advantage. They add emphasis to your speech, allow time for reflection, and show that you’re confident in your speaking abilities. Don’t neglect them.
Do something out of character.
The same routine day-in and day-out can leave you feeling a little flat. When there’s little excitement or change in our lives, our self-esteem can suffer. Do something impulsive and change up your habits – whether it’s exploring a new cuisine or giving a new fitness trend a go, surprise yourself by doing something out of character and feel the good vibes come rolling in.
When in doubt, ask a question.
The best thing you can possibly do in almost all situations is lead the conversation. The best way to do that is to simply ask a question and then listen to the response. Ask them what they do. Ask them about their biggest project. Ask them what they think of the meeting, or of the last speaker. Ask them what hotel they’re staying at and if they like it. Then listen to what they say. You can usually follow up on something there, by relating your own experience or asking another question.
Keep a chamomile tea bag in your wallet.
Chamomile tea is a natural relaxant – it’s honestly the single best, natural way I’ve found to calm myself down in any situation. Miracle worker, I swear. You may look like you’re having a cup of tea, but really you’re chilling out. It’s also socially acceptable in any situation, so it’s a great “secret weapon” to have on hand.
The great thing about these tricks is that eventually, you’ll trick yourself into actually being confident. The more you practice appearing confident, the more it will come to you naturally. But remember, confidence isn’t “They will like me.” It’s “I’ll be fine if they don’t.” Know your worth then add tax. Once these tips become part of your daily ritual you’ll be feeling like the confident unicorn you really are, in no-time.