Confidence, so we are told, is the secret to success in many areas of life. If you are confident then you will instantly be more attractive to the opposite sex, you will be entrusted with more important roles at work and you will attract opportunities and inspire allegiance. If you believe in yourself, so too will everyone else.
This is how the story goes anyway and thus we are often told that in order to solve all our problems, we need only try to become more confident. But that is where the problem lies: it’s simply not that easy to just ‘become’ more confident. If it was, then probably none of us would have low confidence in the first place…
Perhaps then what would be easier, would be to try to act more confident in the meantime, to give off that confident aura that attracts people to us, and then just maybe acting this way for long enough would result in our ultimately becoming that much more confident for real.
Let’s take a look then at how you can appear more confident even when you perhaps don’t feel that way for real…
The Way You Dress
One of the easiest ways to appear more confident is to think about the way you dress and present yourself. And which clothes will make you appear most confident? Those that draw attention to themselves and that are a little unusual even.
This is actually a strategy that is recommended by pick-up artists, and is called ‘peacocking’. Here, guys hoping to meet women will walk into bars wearing strange outfits or accessories like giant hats, and that way they know they’re going to get noticed first of all. The theory then is that the women in the bar are going to look at these guys in strange outfits and assume that they must be very confident to wear something like that in public. And from there the assumption is that they must have a reason to be so confident and thus are possibly a great ‘catch’.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, you don’t need to go quite this far with it. Nevertheless though, if you wear something that is out of your usual comfort zone and that draws attention, then you can be sure that people will think you’re more confident than perhaps you are. For a guy this might just mean a smart white suit, or it could be a ‘loud’ belt, or it might mean a bright red t-shirt that’s quite tight (or a tank top even if you don’t have the body to pull it off). For a woman, this might mean a shorter skirt than you would normally wear with some high heels, or it might be a bright red lipstick which always gives off a confident vibe.
It’s important to make sure that you look good with it too though. Wear something loud that doesn’t flatter you and you’ll look misguidedly confident which should not be the objective. Instead then, wear the clothes that you would wear if you were more confident (this is a good question to ask yourself) or better yet – get someone else who you trust to choose the clothes that will be most flattering on you. Getting others to dress us is actually very often a smart way to try clothes outside of our normal comfort zone.
Next up comes your body language – that is the way that you carry yourself and the way you stand. This can make a huge difference to the way that others unconsciously perceive your confidence and also to the way you feel about yourself.
To know what kind of body language is likely to make you look more confident, a good place to start is by looking at the body language of those who don’t appear confident and then trying to take on the opposite appearance.
Someone not confident for instance will often have a slumped and hunched appearance – the same position you would adopt if you had just lost a competition or received bad news. On the other hand, someone with a lot of confidence will stand up tall and take up more horizontal space as well – as though they had just won a competition or otherwise been victorious. Essentially confident people look slightly upwards as opposed to slightly downward, and they take up more space.
This is something you can mimic in order to appear more confident – make sure you have a good posture, sit with your legs and arms wider apart on sofas and chairs, and keep your head held higher up.
Another way you can appear more confident, though it may sound surprising, is to lean against things like walls and doors. This actually unconsciously communicates that you feel you own whatever it is you’re leaning against. And if you do it in the threshold of a room, it can portray that you feel you own the whole room.
All these things suggested confidence, but don’t expect them on their own to suddenly make you appear like the Fonz. Really the appearance of confidence is not something you can fake with a few poses – rather it’s about the way you carry yourself through the poses and try not to appear as though you’re second guessing yourself. It’s about being easy with yourself, which ironically happens when you forget that you’re trying to protect a certain image or other. So be considerate of your position and your posture, but generally just try to act as though you don’t care what anyone else thinks or does.
Another aspect of body language that is very important is eye contact. When talking to someone we often try to avoid eye contact apart from using small glances. That’s because eye contact can make you feel as though you are under scrutiny, or can feel intimidating and thus you break away. But actually in most cases it will be the same person consistently breaking away, which will normally be the person who is less confident. Next time you’re in conversation then, think of it as a small ‘battle’ wherein you aren’t going to break eye contact until the other person does. You’ll find that they do it soon enough so that you don’t have to, and as long as you smile and blink it won’t come off as ‘creepy’. Just try it next time you’re served in a shop of some kind.
Lastly, when interacting with other people, don’t be afraid to use your hands (not in a weird way). Particularly between guys, the belief is that the person to get the ‘last touch’ will come across as the person who is most confident out of that interaction. So if somebody slaps you on the back and says well done, your job is to scruff their hair and say ‘don’t sweat it, sport’. It comes across as chummy, but it actually demonstrates that you don’t need their approval and in fact the opposite is true.
The way you speak can also indicate confidence or a lack thereof. Specifically the best way to sound more confident when talking is just to slow down which in turn will make you appear more relaxed and in command. There is a tendency when we are anxious for our speaking to speed up as our heart rate increases and we produce more stress hormones. Talking quickly then is a way to immediately appear as though you’re worried about what other people think, while slowing down creates the opposite impression.
Meanwhile, slowing down your speaking and taking more time between words will allow you to select better words to use so that you come across more eloquent and thus intelligent, and it will also make your voice appear deeper which will suggest you are more powerful and dominant.
Similar to getting ‘last touch’ when interacting with others physically, you can also appear more confident by using the other person’s name more – which also has the effect of making us more likeable (because people generally like hearing their own name).
You should also try to avoid apologising too much when speaking, making excuses or sounding unsure. Talk in confident statements and don’t be so apologetic for everything.
While you speak you should also gesticulate, meaning that you move your arms at the same time as talking to illustrate your point. Again this is all about taking up more space, but at the same time it will also make you appear more convicted in what you’re saying – almost as though you can’t help but express what you want to say with your whole body rather than just your words.
Finally, you can also increase your estimated confidence by using various social signals that would suggest confidence. These would be signs that show you to be ‘well off’ in all the ways that would make someone confident. For instance if you are better looking (achievable with the right grooming, clothes etc.) then people will probably guess that you must also be more confident – who wouldn’t be confident looking that good?
Likewise if you appear to be wealthy, people will assume you are powerful and confident. And if you’re very healthy and physically intimidating then people will think that you are probably confident too. You can make yourself appear better looking, wealthier and fitter by being smart about the image you are projecting, but alternatively you could also just work to actually increase your stature in each of those areas. Working out will make you healthier and more physically intimidating, whereas going after a raise will help you to become wealthier.
Do all these things and you’ll find you instantly feel more confident. And when that happens, people will start to treat you differently. You will feel different too and over time you may just become genuinely more confident. It’s worth a shot!