Everyone has heard the age old saying, “Fake it, ‘til you make it”. This sage advice is basically telling us to pretend to be confident at something until we are confident. It’s really good advice. That’s because confidence is cyclical. It builds upon itself. If you display confidence, even all alone, you will start to feel more confident. There has been a great deal of research conducted around the interconnectedness of our actions and emotions.
Plus when others judge you as confident, they will treat you differently. That will impact how you respond to them. Then, over time, displaying confidence will become second nature and just part of how you “hold yourself.”
This is why mastering the ability to show confidence is extremely important. You might not feel confident in every situation. But, confidence is one of those qualities that people can sniff out in others almost immediately. That’s because we judge confidence based on people’s gestures, movements, and postures.
Immediately displaying more confidence
A few weeks ago, Erica wrote about her anxiety about going to a network event. She isn’t alone. Many of us don’t feel comfortable or confident when attending these events. However, confidence is extremely important when networking. For that reason, I am going to use that activity to explain how to use your body to present as confident. There are 4 areas I try and focus on when attending a networking event: Head, Chest & Shoulders, Hands and Feet.
Keep your head up and look around. This is a must. Be interested in your surroundings and the people in it. When is the last time you saw a confident person who looked down a lot? You haven’t!
Look others in the eyes. You will be shocked how many people don’t look others in the eye. Because this isn’t done that often, it is a great aid when making others feel your confidence.
Eye Contact is also important because sometimes all you have with someone is a quick glance. Get that eye contact.
When you do meet their eyes, make sure they see a smile on your face. Smiling is the most recognized facial expression in the world. It can immediately disarm people. When people don’t feel confident, the first thing that goes is their smile. Remember, this is about displaying confidence. Put that smile on your face even if you’re not feeling it at the moment.
Not only does smiling show others you are comfortable and relaxed, it can actually make you feel that way.
Nod your head. Nodding is to signal agreement or at least understanding of what the other person is saying. It has been shown that people will talk 3 to 4 times more than usual when the listener is nodding their head. Use groups of 3 at regular intervals.
Your Chest & Shoulders
It is crucial to roll your shoulders back and allow your torso to be exposed. Rolling your shoulders back will also bring your chest up creating a more upright posture.
Keeping your torso exposed shows confidence by exposing where we feel most vulnerable. That sounds strange, but think about it. When people are startled they don’t try to cover their back leaving their frontside exposed. They pull their elbows in close and basically hug themselves.
If you struggle with keeping your shoulders rolled back, practice rolling them back every time you walk through a doorway. Remember: You will be entering and exiting a lot of rooms at networking events.
Your Hand Movements and Positions
Keep your hands visible. It is an engrained habit to quickly look at another person’s hands upon meeting. It is a safety instinct to make sure there is nothing in them that can bring us harm. You probably do it without even realizing it. So, put people at ease by taking them out of your pockets or up from under the table.
Show your palms. This implies openness and honesty. In fact, it has been shown that people find it more difficult to lie when intentionallly displaying their palms more than usual.
When using your hands to talk, keep them above your waist and below your shoulders. This area is what body language expert Mark Bowden calls the Truthplane. This again creates a feeling of honesty and sincerity to others
Your Legs & Feet
Don’t let your lower body betray you. This can be hard to remember since they can be so easily ignored. However, people place so much emphasis on the feet when trying to get a true measure of someone.
When sitting down keep your legs & feet still. Don’t bounce your feet on the floor moving your entire legs.
When standing, plant your feet about shoulder length apart. Don’t fidget by constantly switching positions.
Your feet will point to where you really want to be. Left unchecked, they could be displaying that you want out of a conversation. At a networking event, make sure to show you are wanting to speak with that person by having your feet pointing at them.
If you’re talking in a group, open your feet to welcome the group members on either side of you. You can probably think of people who will close off a group by not recognizing they can pivot a few degrees to keep the whole group in full view of each other.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
These tips are ones you can implement today, and they will quickly change your confidence level. But, it can take awhile to make these behaviors commonplace. The only thing you can do is practice, practice, practice. Continually ask yourself if your body language is displaying confidence. If not, what can you do to show more confidence? Trust me. You will be so happy you took the time to consciously practice displaying confidence. Now get out there with your new air of confidence. It’s time to show up as your best self!