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In the business arena, confidence is key. It can help you network successfully and build your clientele. Confidence is also attractive: it brings positive attention and can help open doors to new opportunities.
Unfortunately, confidence is not easily obtained. It can take years to build up the true confidence that you need for success. However, research shows that confidence can be learned through the “fake it ’til you make it” approach. You can give off the air of confidence (reaping the benefits of better relations and opportunities) while simultaneously teaching yourself to be more confident. Here are seven tips to look confident, even if you do not feel like you are.
1. Improve Your Posture
Slouching makes you seem small and insignificant. Body language makes up a minimum of sixty percent of all human communication. Crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact, and hanging your head all act to reinforce the idea that you lack confidence.
Standing up straight is much more powerful and confident. A fairly easy fix in your body language will make all the difference in how you are perceived. Think about standing as tall as you possibly can, like something is pulling you up, with your shoulders pushed back slightly. Look straight ahead! Try not to cross your arms, but place them on your hips or at your sides instead.
2. Listen More Than You Speak
Talking rapidly and frequently comes off as insecure and nervous. It can be hard to allow for a little silence in a conversation, especially when you are feeling anxious, but it is important to make your words count. Do not rush to fill the silence with empty words.
Confident people already know what they think, so they want to hear what others have to say. Ask questions that allow people to answer thoughtfully. If you do not know what to ask, try to ask for advice instead. Asking for advice from someone implies that you both respect the person you are speaking to and are humble enough to admit you do not know everything.
3. Smile Generously
When many people are thinking, they tend to make strange facial expressions. Confident people listen carefully, and therefore are able to respond to what is being said. Instead of thinking about how to respond with your words in a conversation, monitor your facial expressions.
Smiling shows that you are warm, approachable, and friendly. Practice genuine smiles in the mirror and try them out when listening. Your facial expression may be saying more about you than your words are!
4. Praise Others
Give credit where credit is due, and maybe sometimes where it is not. Be generous with your compliments and accolades, but be careful to also be genuine. People who are confident don’t need the extra attention. They are proud of what they have achieved and do not seek validation from others. Putting the spotlight on others proves that your validation comes from within.
Sharing the confidence and giving the people around you a little boost is a great way to defeat the idea that you are shy or lack confidence. Not only will it give you the illusion of confidence, but it will also help you build relationships with your coworkers and earn their respect.
5. Recognize and Admit to Your Mistakes
Confident people recognize when they have made an error and learn from it, while insecure people deny making mistakes because they fear mistakes may devalue their worth. Do not hide behind excuses or other people, as it gives you an air of cowardice.
Do not try to be perfect—no one is. Everyone will see through the guise very quickly. Try not to get hung up on your mistakes: instead, focus on what you can learn from them. Confident people embrace their failures and shortcomings. They learn from them and even share them for humorous or cautionary purposes.
6. Exercise: Work Off the Anxiety
When you are stressed, you secrete more cortisol, the chemical that triggers your flight-or-fight response. High cortisol levels can make you more emotional, less creative, and reduce your cognitive functions. Anxiety is one emotion that works hard to kill your confidence.
A great treatment for stress and anxiety is exercise. Here are some examples of exercise that you can do:
- Bike rides
- Slow-pitch softball
You can even try to work exercise into your schedule by taking a walk at lunch. Just a small amount of activity can help to increase your energy levels and boost your mood.
7. Make Eye Contact
Next time you are having a conversation with someone, take note of how much or how little this person makes eye contact with you. You will notice that confident people make a lot of eye contact, while nervous people spend a lot of time looking down or away. During your interactions, be sure to make eye contact. Not only will it convey confidence but will also show your respect for the other person.
Confidence is a true virtue that can improve your quality of life and affect your entrepreneurial success. In order to be confident, you must act confidently. If you follow these seven tips, you will begin to appear more confident, which will make you feel more confident. It is a beautiful cycle that can make all the difference in your career.