Advertising
Advertising

How to Walk in Any Room with Confidence

How to Walk in Any Room with Confidence

Fake it ’til you make it. We often hear this advice, but how true is it really? According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, very. “Your body language shapes who you are,” she said. In a recent TED talk, she showed the world how our posture affects testosterone and cortisol levels in our brains, which plays a part in determining how we feel about ourselves.

Standing tall, even when you don’t feel confident, projects confidence. Those who project confidence often receive more praise, promotions and other positive reactions than those who look meek or low.

1. Know your audience.

When dressing for the day, understand who you will be speaking to and create daily dressing ritual that includes the question: “Who am I speaking with today?” Headed to a board meeting? Dress conservatively, wearing clean lines and traditional business attire. Taking the boss to lunch? A more business casual outfit might be appropriate. When in doubt, go with a classic look that can fit all sorts of situations.

Advertising

2. Strike a pose.

A power pose can help you gain confidence before you head into that meeting or lunch. Find a private place, stand tall and open your arms up and above your head in a “V” shape. According to Cuddy, this can make you feel and act powerful. Imagine the thrust up arms of victory many athletes use after winning or completing a race.

Alternatively, when you are standing at the coffee maker and your boss walks in, striking the “Wonder Woman” pose with your hands on your hips and your chest broad, can also exude confidence. This pose makes you look bigger and keeps you from looking meek.

3. Reset your emotions.

This can be harder to say than do, but when you’re very nervous, try to reset your emotions. Take a private moment to breathe deeply and perhaps concentrate on the points you need to make rather than the nervousness you feel. If you go through your points deliberately, you’ll be able to reduce your nervousness and start your presentation off confidently.

Advertising

4. Accept nervousness.

Nervousness is there for a reason. Accept it. Your body gets nervous to sharpen your wits and prepare you for the battle ahead. Now, you may not be a caveman heading off to battle a wooly mammoth—or a bear, but you are heading into your own personal battle. Embrace the feeling. Understand that it’s there to help you and let it give you confidence.

5. Visualize the outcome.

What do you want to happen at the end of this meeting? Picture it. Vividly. Take a little time beforehand and go through the presentation. Have you ever watched a skiing event on TV? At the top of the hill, have you seen the skiers close their eyes and move their bodies or heads? They are visualizing the ski run. They go through each twist and turn before it happens. Do this with your presentation. See what you need to do before you do it and it will likely be successful.

6. Enter with pride.

Walk into the room, whether it’s a meeting or a lunch, with a smile on your face and your arms open for greeting. Avoid placing your hands in your pockets, which indicates low self-confidence or across your chest, indicating protectiveness. Shake hands, if it’s appropriate, and keep your stance open while giving your presentation.

Advertising

7. Gesticulate and animate.

Be an animated presenter. Use your arms and hands to express yourself. Point to important elements of your presentation and interact with members of the team.

 

Being confident and showing confidence are often two different things. You don’t have to be confident to look it. Look confident long enough and eventually, your confidence will grow. Or as Bob Dylan said, “Act the way you’d like to be and you’ll soon be the way you act.”

Advertising

Featured photo credit: DC Comics via media.dcentertainment.com

More by this author

Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

8 Things to Remember When You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life 30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much 10 Benefits of Deadlifts You Probably Never Knew 9 Benefits of Jumping Rope You Probably Don’t Know 9 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next