How to Look More Confident (Even When You Don’t Feel It)
Without uttering a word, your posture, gestures and overall demeanor speak volumes about your confidence, leadership and general regard for others.
Don’t believe it? Think back on the professionals who made a difference in your life. While you may not remember much of what they said to you and others, chances are you can still picture them in great detail, from the sly oh-please look they’d sneak you across a contentious conference table to the welcome firmness of their handshake or that unexpected get-well card.
Try incorporating these 10 habits of highly confident people into your professional mien. Who knows; they may even unlock the inner leader within you.
Initiate eye contact: When it comes to nonverbal communication, eye contact acts as your handshake. Once your eyes meet another’s, you want to hold their gaze for at least two to three seconds to establish a firm, confident visual handshake; anything less may be interpreted as insecure, insincere, or evasive.
Get a grip: Since ancient times, the handshake has served as the sole unisex form of physical greeting in business and social situations. Confident people establish eye contact first, then extend their hand, make full palm-to-palm contact, and shake up and down once or twice. No fist bumps, exploding, or otherwise.
Perfect your posture: Your body is your billboard. A tall, straight posture, whether standing or seated, conveys self-assurance, energy, and authority. Leaders don’t slouch.
Dress well: Your apparel should reflect the confident individual within. What you wear should always appear thoughtfully purchased and impeccably tailored, even casual Friday attire. Avoid tight-fitting garments, busy patterns, revealing necklines and showy accessories.
Choose your gestures: The difference between a helpful gesture and an annoying one, such as tapping, fidgeting or playing with your hair, is purpose. Use gestures naturally to convey ideas and emotions, introduce or acknowledge a speaker, emphasize a point, or direct a presentation.
Master facial relations: From birth, we learn the facial expressions of the seven basic emotions: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. A good leader strives to keep their facial features in line with the goals at hand. You might start by perfecting a stiff upper lip.
Own your verbal tone: Like our posture, our verbal tone – how we say/phrase things – can convey confidence or callousness. Listen to your recorded voice in conversation and work on ways to adjust your pacing, volume, inflection and pitch to unleash the leader within.
Be present: When speaking one-on-one, square your body, lean in slightly and point your toes toward the other party to demonstrate that they have your respect and attention. Oh, and ix-nay on phone play while conversing; it can be perceived as a sign of disinterest and/or disrespect.
Read the room: Good leaders not only conduct themselves with confidence; they’re also adept at reading the nonverbal cues that others display when they’ve lost the thread, have a comment or question, or need a break. Your appropriate response shows you care, which earns their trust.
Lead the way: All of the nonverbal skills in the world won’t get you a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks unless you step up and order it. Unleash your inner leader and forge a better future for you and your team by using these skills with confidence and compassion.
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