How To Show More Confidence
Updated: Feb 23, 2019
I want to begin this post by saying there is no such thing as self-esteem.
Your personality (made up of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism, aka OCEAN, aka The Big 5) determines in large part how much negative emotion (neuroticism) and positive emotion (extraversion) you will endure/enjoy in your life.
If you are highly neurotic and very, very introverted, then your version of confidence will look much different from someone who is not at all neurotic and is very extraverted. You cannot radically change your personality. However, you can develop healthy habits for managing the worst aspects of your personality, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, get counselling for the things you need help to change, and therefore improve yourself over time. I believe there's no such thing as self esteem... but there IS such a thing as power. There is such a thing as competence. And there is such a thing as self-awareness. When you put these together, you end up with something very like confidence.
If you feel comfortable, powerful, and competent in an environment, you will display 'confident' body language. If you feel nervous and uncertain, you will display nervous body language.
We are trained to notice the body language of the people around us, and use that body language to judge where they fall on the social hierarchy. An individual who uses lots of confident body language is judged as high on the hierarchy. An individual with lots of nervous and uncertain body language is scored low on the hierarchy.
And so, by changing our body language, we can change how people see us.
If we change how people see us, that changes how they think of us.
If they think of us differently, they will treat us differently.
If they treat us differently, we will feel differently.
If we feel differently, we will change our body language.
If we change our body language, we change how they see us.
You see how that's a feedback loop?
By changing your body language, you change the way people see you, think about you, and treat you, which directly affects how you feel, see, and think about yourself.
For example, when a person wins a race, they will use their arms, legs, and posture to take up more space horizontally and vertically than the person who lost the race. (See this example at 1:55 - 2:05). We use our bodies to take up more space when we feel confident, and we shrink down when we don't feel confident.
In a very real sense, we use our body language to show when we feel like a winner, and when we feel like a loser. And people prefer to work with winners (unless they are criminals, because criminals looking for victims always look for people with low-confident body language).
So when you're going into a job interview, a new social setting, a party, a speech, a sales conversation, a date, or any event ever, showing confident body language will ensure you're treated with respect.
Here are a few more photo examples of what confident body language looks like:
Here are 4 steps for showing confident body language.
1. Posture Is Everything. Imagine you are the Queen of England - stand up straight and tall and proud. Once you're standing straight and tall, at attention, softly relax your shoulders so you look comfortable instead of tense. Average posture makes you look average. Excellent posture makes you look excellent, so claim it wholeheartedly.
2. Watch Your Elbows. You want to comfortably claim your space, and an easy way to do that is to keep your elbows a few inches away from your body. The photos above give some examples of how you can do that. Whenever your elbows begin to touch your body (or you wear droopy clothes so it LOOKS like your elbows are touching your body) you seem to shrink down into the low power pose, and you are basically giving your power away. Note: If you're overweight, spreading out with your elbows is more important, not less.
3. Stand With Strength. Use your legs to show you are firmly grounded and not giving in. This has been called the Launch Stance, the A-Pose, the Ladder Pose, etc. Here's how it goes. If you are in pants, you want to stand (or sit) with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. If you are in a skirt and can't stand/sit with your legs apart, then keep them together, but compensate by taking up more space with your arms. 4. Use Your Stuff. Your accessories (keys, phone, bag, coat, etc) are extensions of yourself, and you can also use them to claim your space. Don't leave them tucked tightly against your lap or legs. Keep them within arm's length, but spread them out in front of you or to the side of you to indicate that you are comfortable and confident with your space.
We use our space to show others how seriously they should take us - to show them if we are a big deal, or a little nobody. In a very real sense, you are claiming territory.
It's very interesting to me that women are more likely to broadcast low-power body language and men are more likely to broadcast high-power body language. Women are also more likely to be high in the trait neuroticism (correlating with negative emotion and high anxiety) and high in the trait agreeableness (meaning they sacrifice their needs for others and may be taken advantage of). To me, this means that women are particularly empowered when they use confident body language, and it's more important than ever that they do so.
Here's a quick video to explain posing and see the difference it makes in real life.
There are dozens of ways you use your body language to show the world you mean business, but it's crucial that you discover these cues - and that you use them.
I'd like to share with you more cues that you can use to build confidence, change the way the world sees you, and impact the way you feel about yourself. Let's have an individual conversation to discover your unique situation, your goals, and build a personal strategy for showing and feeling more confidence in your everyday interactions.
Get started on broadcasting and feeling more confidence by clicking here.