A shared characteristic among women is often a lack of confidence. Even the women who appear to be confident admit that this is an area that they constantly have to work on. A lot of times it stems from our lack of self-worth. Or, a feeling that we don’t deserve to be confident because we haven’t earned the right to be confident.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a tremendously gifted artist. She shared with me that after 30 years of painting, she is just now starting to feel that she is any good at painting. She said that just recently, she was looking at one of her paintings and decided that she is pretty good. Now, this is a person who has been making a living off of her craft for many years. And she just now believes that she might be good at this? I hear similar stories from the women that I meet time and time again.
One of the things that I enjoy most about my job is watching the women I work with come into their confidence. It’s often a gradual progression that begins with acting confident. Research has shown that pretending to be confident will lead to actually being confident.
Why is it even important to demonstrate confidence? Why does it even matter? Well, in any interaction, the person with the most confidence wins. Period. People want to be associated with confident people. People remember confident people.
So, if you feel your confidence quotient needs to increased, what can you do? What are some of the things you can incorporate into your daily life to convey confidence and credibility? Here are 10 easy things you can do right now.
- Make good eye contact and smile
Making good eye contact and smiling always makes you look more confident. This means no staring at the floor or looking out the window. And, to be clear, confident eye contact isn’t a persistent stare. Don’t just stare at someone. That ends up being kind of creepy. Confident eye contact is a meeting of the eyes as you speak and make your point.
- Have a great handshake
A good handshake consists of a full and firm handclasp with palms embraced web to web. Shake up and down once or twice, coupled with a sincere smile and eye contact. Avoid the extremes of either a limp handshake or an aggressive bone-crushing one. It is important to treat men and women with equal respect when shaking hands. And either gender may initiate a handshake.
- Dress the part
Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” For men and women, clothing speaks volumes in the workplace. There is no secret that there are direct links between personal style and a positive self-image. Research shows that self-care can produce positive feelings, which builds confidence. So go get that great outfit that makes you feel invincible, that great pair of shoes that makes you feel stronger, or that great haircut or manicure that makes you feel polished. Looking the part can send your confidence through the roof!
- Use mirroring
Mirroring is a great technique if you are unsure of your audience. People tend to like other people who are like them. When you meet someone that you have never met before, watch them and do what they do. Do they talk fast or slow? Do they seem lively or more reserved? This will give you clues for how to interact. By using mirroring, you’ll be able to interact with all styles of people with confidence.
- Be prepared
Being prepared will also go a long way in helping you feel confident. Whether it be a presentation or attending a networking event, being prepared will reduce stress and nervousness thereby increasing your confidence.
- Use confident nonverbal cues
Some would argue that over 90% of how we communicate confidence comes from nonverbal cues. You can see it every day; a confident person carries themselves much differently than their shy and timid counterpart. Displaying confident nonverbal cues not only increases your likeability but it also creates instant credibility. Some nonverbal cues include the good eye contact and smiling I’ve already mentioned. It is also important to take up room. The confident person doesn’t confine themselves to tight spaces and they take up as much room as necessary. Now, this doesn’t mean infringe on other people’s space. But do stand with your legs at least shoulder width apart and don’t give up that space unless there’s a particularly good reason. And, resist the urge to self-hug. It’s a notable sign of insecurity. You want to appear in command without being tense at all. These are good ways to get people to like you before you have even said a word.
- Initiate interactions
Be the first person to make eye contact, to offer your hand to shake, to have an idea or solution, etc. Mel Robbins, a relationship expert and life coach, has defined a 5 second rule. She says that if you have an impulse that you don’t marry with an action within five seconds your sub conscious will pull the emergency brake and kill the idea. So, if you see someone that you think you should know or if you have an idea to contribute at a meeting, if you don’t act on that impulse within five seconds, it will never happen and you will have missed the opportunity. Don’t let yourself pull the emergency brake. Don’t think, just do. People who take initiative are always seen as being confident.
- Ask questions to stall
This one might sound a little weird or manipulative. But stalling is a helpful technique when you are feeling nervous or insecure. Or, more simply stated, when your mind draws a blank and you can’t think of how to answer a question or what to say next. Clarification questions are helpful here. Just ask some questions that keep other people talking so that you have time to gather your thoughts.
- Get away from negativity
This seems obvious but often times is easier said than done. Especially if those who are being negative are family, friends, or business partners. Just remember, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. So if you are surrounded by someone who causes you to have self-doubt or negative self-talk, remove yourself from the situation. I’m not saying you have to divorce your spouse or never talk to your mother again, but implement a red rope policy that gives you some space so that you can accomplish what you wish to accomplish.
- Practice power poses
I love this one! Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and frequent TEDx speaker has done some fascinating research on power poses. If you ever get a chance, Google her work. Her research has found that doing something called a power pose, even when you don’t feel confident, will increase the level of testosterone and decrease the levels of cortisol in your brain, making you more confident. Two of the most popular power poses are the Wonder Woman (stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your hands on your hips) and the victory pose (stand with your arms in a “V” over your head). She found that doing a power pose in a mirror for 2 minutes before a stressful situation will increase your confidence and reduce your nerves. I’m a big fan of this practice and encourage you to figure out how to work this into your life. I promise it works.
Acting confident will make you more confident. Using any or all of these 10 ideas will work to increase your confidence until you come into your own. Each of you has something valuable to share. Step into it with the confidence I know you have.
If you found these suggestions helpful, please let me know. I also want to encourage you to share other things you do to boost your confidence. Just leave a comment below. Now go out there and show the world the confident you!