No one can be confident 100% of the time. We all have bad days that knock us off-kilter. There are also days when obstacles and adversities make us question our own abilities. However, successful people know how to exude confidence even when they don’t feel like it. Just like any other skill, mastering the art of confidence means tweaking even the way you stand up, use hand gestures, and maintain the correct gait. If you struggle with their self-assuredness, here are some proven ways to appear confident and make people believe in you.
Maintain eye contact.
Maintaining eye contact either when you are talking to someone or someone is talking to you, is a sign of confidence and shows the other person that you are attentive.
If you are speaking to someone, look into their eyes (though, not too intensely or you will freak them out) and if you have to speak to a room full of people, alternate between them.
Similarly, it is also important to maintain eye contact when someone is talking to you. Don’t stare at the floor or the ceiling, check your phone, or scan the room. Doing so will make you come off as discomforted, rude, or downright anxious. However, making too much intense eye contact can be off-putting, so aim for a happy medium. As a rule of thumb, try to maintain eye contact for at least 80% of your interaction, with breaks in between.
Fidgeting is a surefire indicator of low confidence and betrays anxiety and nervousness.
Most of us fidget without even being aware of it. Some people tend to move their hands around in a sort of flailing motion when they are in conversation with someone, some keep fixing their hair, while others have a nervous leg-shaking habit. Some people shift from one foot to the other a lot while others nod excessively. These fidgeting motions distract the other person from what you are saying and make it hard for them to understand you.
If you want to exude confidence, stand at ease while locked in conversation and only move when it is appropriate. For this to happen, you need to be aware of your own fidgeting habit. Practice speaking with people you are comfortable with and ask them to identify any peculiar quirks about your personality.
Stand tall with your head high.
Do you often stand or walk while staring at the ground?
Try to stand with your head held high, your eyes forward, and your shoulders pulled back and level. Walk and stand like you own the world, even if you are internally ridden with doubts. Doing so will make you look poised against others who slouch.
If holding your head up high feels unnatural at first, pretend like an invisible string is holding your head from above. When talking to someone, keep your gaze fixated on a point to prevent your head from moving around anxiously.
Speak slowly and clearly.
Most of us jumble words in an attempt to rush through what we are saying or even speak in a low tone when we are feeling less confident in what we have to say. Speaking too fast may slur your speech and also increases the risk of slipping up with verbal nonsense or saying things you don’t mean. Slow down.
Pausing in between your sentences gives you time to come up with better responses and choice of words, making you appear more confident and relaxed. Practice articulating your words clearly in a deep voice in front of the mirror to develop a habit of talking deliberately and nonchalantly. This can make you seem confident and in charge.
Avoid your pockets.
Though you may be tempted to shove your hands in your pockets every time you find yourself in the midst of an uncomfortable scenario, try to refrain from this habit. It may seem like a good idea to keep your hands from shaking or flailing around, doing so makes you look more anxious and less confident. Keep your hands at your sides and use appropriate hand gestures to look more self-assured.
If you are feeling unsure how to interact with someone or worried about being misconstrued or disliked, why not mirror their actions when you are talking to them. Overtime, this will help you hone your communication skills and enhance your confidence.
This is how mirroring works: When you’re interacting with someone, match their body language with your own, choose a style of conversation that is closer to theirs, and even adjust the tone of your voice to their decibel. It requires a certain measure of skill and subtlety to master this art without making it seem like you are copying them, but once you get it right, it will help you build rapport and influence with everyone you meet and you will find that people instantly warm up to you.
Shut out your inner critic.
Do you know that you are your biggest confidence barrier! That little pesky voice in your head that tells you that you are not enough, that you are somehow inferior to those around you, is the biggest enemy of your confidence. You need to learn to tell that little (loud) voice in your head to go away for good! Here’s a trademark of less confident people; they are forever fretting over what people think about them and always assume the worst. You need to ask yourself if you really warrant the harsh judgments that you have fabricated in your mind.
Secondly, whenever you need to encounter a challenging situation, be it giving a job interview, meeting up with a big-shot client, or giving a presentation to a roomful of people, think of the worst that could happen. For instance, the worst case scenario is that you won’t nail the job. But who cares. You will probably never see the interviewer again so does it really matter how they perceived you?
All easier said than done, I know. Hide your fears and tribulations behind your biggest, most confident smile, and before you know it, you won’t need to fake that confidence anymore.
Practice a firm handshake.
If meeting new people leaves you anxious, you will have to work to exude confidence and distract yourself from your nervousness, even when you feel like a bag of nerves. Especially when you are in a professional setting, your handshake is your first point of contact. A quality handshake can set the entire tone of your interaction. A firm grip exudes confidence like nothing else, but be sure not to grip too tightly. Some people even use their other hand to softly touch the person’s outstretched arm between their wrist and elbow. This portrays authenticity and is the best way to form an instant connection.
Improve your posture.
A poor posture is the identifying trait of a timid person. You will never see a sure-footed individual standing slumped over, with their shoulders caved in. Never hunch over, even if you are tired or not feeling bold enough. Hold your head up high and push your shoulders back. Whenever you are locked in conversation, directly face the person you are speaking to. If you are looking for ways to appear more confident, remember that your posture makes all the different. Maintain a confident posture and everything else will fall into place.
Control your movement.
Walking too briskly or even making fast movements make you appear more anxious and can distract those around you. Slow down your stride and keep your hand gestures deliberate and meaningful; taking control of your movements also keep you in the present and make you less likely to appear finicky. While you need to walk slowly, it is also important to take larger steps. Confident people take larger steps and walk with authority.
Learn to take a complement.
A lot of people turn red when receiving a face-to-face compliment. While we all like to be acknowledged from time to time, we seem at a loss for how to respond without seeming egotistical or conceited.
However, trying to brush off every compliment that comes your way under the rug doesn’t help you in the long run. Confident people are always thankful when someone praises them and appreciates their work. Believe in yourself and convince yourself that you do deserve the praise.
Take a moment to let the compliment sink in. Think about what the words mean coming from that particular person. Doing so helps you understand the value placed on your strengths and help you be more confident in your abilities.