“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Fear exists at the heart of every unfulfilled dream. If there is something in our life that we want, we are going to have to confront some fears in order to get it. Having confidence in our ability to achieve goals, to move forward in the face of fear, and to accomplish our desires, is critical if we are going to live a life that is personally fulfilling and meaningful. Not everyone is born with natural confidence. Some people struggle, and for many people, difficult circumstances in their own lives can really impact their self confidence.
So what can be done? Anyone can develop more self confidence if they take some simple actions and, more importantly, build these actions into habits.
Here are 10 ways to instantly have confidence.
1. Put a Little Effort Into Our Appearance
Sounds simple, but it really works. When we put effort into our appearance, our dress, and our grooming, we feel better about ourselves. Does this mean that we have to be savvy to all the latest fashions and spend a large chunk of our savings on wardrobe upgrades? Not likely. The most important thing is that we build a habit of doing the best with what we have, and small simple improvements in the ways we present ourselves will have a positive impact on how we feel and our confidence. A secret weapon when it comes to our appearance: shoes. Take good care of our shoes. Upgrade them if necessary. Good looking shoes go a long way for a good feeling person.Advertising
2. Do An Act Of Service For Someone Else
This is critical. We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to our emotions. Many times, we feel bad about ourselves simply because we are focused too much on “our self”. Getting outside of the self can be truly refreshing, empowering and goes a long way to building your self confidence. Where to start? Look around, there are people everywhere. Find someone and do something nice for them. Then find someone else and do something nice for them. After a while, you’ll be amazed at how great you feel.
3. Be Prepared
Sometimes a lack of confidence is as simple as a lack of preparation. Nervous about that job interview? How well did we prepare? Nervous about that upcoming exam? How well did we study? Nervous about not making those sales targets? What was our preparation like? How effectively did we work? Action is the best antidote to anxiety and fear. Being perfectly prepared for whatever we are about to do will give us confidence. When we know that we have made the best possible preparations for what we are about to do, we will be more confident.
4. Take A Look At Our Posture
Seems funny, but it actually works. How do you stand? Do you slouch? What is your posture like when you are sitting? When you stand up straight, and sit with correct posture in your chair, you feel better about yourself. You’re able to breath easier and this oxygen supply does wonders for your brain and our body. You need oxygen to feel good and sometimes your lack of oxygen can be traced to poor posture.Advertising
5. Set a “Micro-Goal” And Achieve It
Confidence is based on a belief that we are capable of achieving things, therefore we don’t need to be scared. Sometimes we get into a rut where we don’t feel like we are capable of achieving anything. When this happens it can be hard to start, and big goals seem almost out of the question. So what you need to do in this instance is to set a “micro-goal” and then achieve it. A “micro-goal” is a very small goal that is in your power. For instance, if you have a sales based career, simply make a goal of picking up the phone and calling 5 people. Don’t even focus on making a sale. Just achieve the goal of calling. Why does this work? Because it gives you momentum and it signals the brain that you can achieve things. If you do it over and over and over again – set a small goal and then achieve it – you’ll will be pleasantly surprised at how you feel.
7. Change One Tiny Habit
When we get stuck in a “confidence rut” it can be very hard to change major habits. We just don’t believe that we are capable of change, and we don’t have the momentum to support our desire. So I’m not talking about changing big habits here, like “stop smoking”. I’m talking about tiny habits, like making a bed, or waking up 10 minutes earlier, or choosing a salad instead of fries. Tiny habits work because, like setting micro-goals, they give us momentum. Once you change one thing, you’ll want to change others, and best of all, you develop confidence from your past victories. Since you have changed one thing, you know you are capable of changing others.
Sounds trite, but it really works. When we smile we are happier. When we are happier we have more self-confidence. It’s also contagious. Think about you day-to-day life. When you go for a coffee break and the server gives you a warm smile, does it make you upset? Does it make you angry and really depressed? Not at all. Sometimes that little gesture is exactly what you need to make you feel better about what is otherwise a difficult day. When you smile, and when others smile at you, we all feel better. When you feel better, you have more confidence.Advertising
9. Make A List of 10 Things That We Are Grateful For
Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools against depression and lack of confidence. What is one of the quickest ways to feel grateful? Simply make a list. Make a list of 10 things that you are grateful for. When the list is done, read it. By the time you’ve done that, you’re sure to feel better about yourself. You realize that life isn’t that bad and that there are many good things in your life, right now. This attitude of gratitude helps you feel more confident about moving forward and making new things happen.
10. Get Active and Start Exercising
As Tony Robbins has said, “emotion is created by motion”. If we want to feel good, we need to move and breathe. Moving increases our oxygen intake which increases our happiness and general sense of well being. Exercising cuts fat, builds muscle and improves our skin tone and appearance. We will instantly feel better because of the oxygen intake, but if we make this step a lasting habit, we will also soon reap the benefits of looking into the mirror and being pleased with the results that we see – results that we have created through our actions. This will increase our confidence.
Last Updated on January 15, 2021
7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language
The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.
Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.
First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.
- Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
- When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
- Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
- When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?
All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.
Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?
- Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
- Frowning and/or furrowing brows
- Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground
If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.
1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions
A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.
The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.
This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards
2. Relax Your Face
New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.)
To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension. You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.
3. Improve Your Eye Contact
Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics? It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.
The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.
To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).
3. Smile More
There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.
Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.
4. Hand Gestures
Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.
It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.
5. Enhance Your Handshake
In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:
“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”
It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.
6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures
As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.
Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.
Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.
Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.
If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.
More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language
- Increasing Confidence with Body Language
- 8 Fatal Body Language Mistakes To Avoid During Presentations
- Be Instantly Irresistible With These 10 Body Language Tips
Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com
|||^||Berkeley News: The 16 facial expressions most common to emotional situations worldwide|
|||^||Science Daily: Teeth grinding and facial pain increase due to coronavirus stress and anxiety|
|||^||National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Disorders|
|||^||Michigan Medicine: Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation|
|||^||Spectra Magazine: Oculesics: Science Speaks Where Words Do Not|
|||^||NCBI: Attention to Eye Contact in the West and East: Autonomic Responses and Evaluative Ratings|
|||^||ResearchGate: An Anthropology of the Handshake|
|||^||Sage Journals: Mapping the Range of Information Contained in the Iconic Hand Gestures that Accompany Spontaneous Speech|
|||^||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Hand Matters: Left-Hand Gestures Enhance Metaphor Explanation|