8 Ways to Exude More Confidence (Even When You’re Not Feeling It)

8 Ways to Exude More Confidence (Even When You’re Not Feeling It)
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Ah, confidence. That elusive, intangible thing we all know we need to get the jobs, attract the people, achieve the goals, and make the money. The thing that can take years or even decades to develop, a string of good decisions and positive outcomes to maintain, and a while to regain once it’s been shaken.

While an essential component for success in many of life’s pursuits, confidence isn’t always an easy feeling to come by. In fact, it’s arguably a skill that must be practiced to get stronger, just like sit-ups are required for more defined abs. “Confidence is not just something you have — it’s something you create,” says self-improvement coach Tony Robbins. Rather than being something we are (or are not) born with, it’s a state of mind that can be cultivated — or faked, when necessary.

What can you do when you need to exhibit more self-assurance than you feel? Here are some tricks to feign confidence, even when it’s in short supply.

Stand tall (and sit up straight)

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Where timid people tend to unconsciously shrink their bodies or slouch when entering a room, confident people are not afraid to take up space. One of the quickest ways to appear more confident is to stand tall, with your shoulders back, chest open, head held high, and a relaxed gaze straight ahead. Avoid nervously darting your eyes around the room or looking down at the ground. If you’re sitting, obey your mum and sit up straight. Slouching and slumping indicate someone who is tired, disengaged, defeated, or uncertain.

Good posture will not only make you look more self-assured, it may also transfer to how you feel. In a study published in Health Psychology, mock interview participants who were assigned an upright seated posture, “reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear, compared to slumped participants.”

Resist the urge to fidget

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It’s hard to know what to do with excess nervous energy, but if you want to appear calm, cool, and collected, interrupt yourself from fidgeting. Nothing gives you away quite like an incessant leg jiggle, or long episodes of hand wringing, hair twirling, nail biting, or finger tapping on the nearest surface. Resist the urge to frequently adjust your physical position or stance. It will take some practice, especially if you’re anxious or bored, but calming your body and sitting still will make you appear less nervous.

Maintain eye contact

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Notice we said maintain eye contact? While making direct eye contact with people is a good start, keeping that eye contact while you (and they) are speaking is also important. Too often people will distractedly look around the room or at their phones when engaged in conversation.

While it’s not necessary to hold eye contact 100% of the time (in fact, that would be creepy), use the 80/20 rule as a guide — 80% of the time, meet your partner’s gaze, 20% of the time, look elsewhere. If you’re speaking to multiple people, be sure to alternate your eye contact with each person in your audience.

Engage in mirroring and “fronting”

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Mirroring is the act of matching your gestures and speech to that of the person you’re speaking with, to enhance connection and increase persuasiveness. According to the Wall Street Journal, “This behaviour, often called ‘the chameleon effect,’ often causes others to like and trust you more.” It involves matching your body language and tone of voice to theirs — when they lean forward, you do. When they speak louder or more softly, you follow suit.

“Fronting,” according to Science of People, “is when you aim your torso and toes toward the person you are speaking with. Nonverbally, this is a sign of respect.” By facing your body directly toward someone, you subconsciously convey confidence, attention, and focus.

Make your statements sound like statements

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You know how? Sometimes people say things? And, even when they’re not seeking an answer, their voices go up on the end like they’re asking a question? Don’t do that. Using a question inflection in your voice when making statements can register as uncertainty or approval-seeking, and quickly chip away at how confident you sound to others.

Speak slowly and embrace (a little) awkward silence

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We have a tendency to speak more rapidly when we’re nervous. Without slowing down to the speed of molasses (which can also appear sluggish or low confidence) consciously moderate your talking pace. It will give you adequate time to think of stronger word choices, and reduce your propensity for verbal diarrhoea.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to let a few silent moments pass. It lends gravitas to what you’re saying, allows the listener to anticipate what’s next, and shows you’re confident enough in your message not to desperately fill every moment with noise.

Keep your hands under control

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Our hands are almost like a second mouthpiece of nonverbal communication. What we do with them matters. Take care not to stuff them in your pockets, fold them across your chest, or wring them excessively; these gestures show discomfort and defensiveness. Keep them visible, and somewhat active, without jumping the shark into distracting over-gesticulation. If you’re not sure what to do with them, try loosely clasping them in front of your body, or bringing the tips of your fingers together to form a steeple between your hands.

Smile at the room

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To appear more confident, be mindful of your facial expressions. Does your resting face have a tendency to look sad, angry, or bored? As cheesy as it sounds, a surefire way to exude confidence is to “smile at the room.” Even if you have no one particular to smile at, when you enter a room full of people, make sure your mouth is turned up in a pleasant, approachable expression to indicate you’re happy to be there, and draw people into your orbit.

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