Appearing confident and being confident are two very different things. While true confidence may take years to build, crafting a look of confidence can be achieved in a much shorter amount of time. Your body language and voice tone play a huge role in the way others perceive your level of confidence. While a low or quiet talker may be seen as someone who holds wisdom in other cultures, In the American workplace it is generally mistaken as a sign of insecurity or a lack of confidence in what is being said. If you have been accused of being a mumbler or a low-talker, try adjusting your tone to be a little more firm. Raising the level of your voice so that it mirrors that of the person you are trying to engage is a sure way to build rapport, unless your shouting.
Your body language isn’t made up of isolated movements, it is the whole picture that sends a message to those watching you. Two key things to keep in mind when trying to achieve a more confident appearance:
* Self Touch- During times of stress, insecurity, or a dip in confidence people will often do something calling soothing self touch. Rubbing of the face, the neck, and stroking the arm or knee are all examples of self touch. People use this as a way to calm themselves down, but it can send a message of anxiety to anyone who sees it.
* Watch your footwork- A relaxed but authoritative stance is one that places your feet firm on the ground about 1- 1 1/2 feet apart from each other. I recently attended a congressional hearing on state policy making. I was seated to the side of the podium and had a clear view of the keynote speaker. He started off his speech standing with his legs and ankles crossed like a small child does when they are feeling nervous or need to use the restroom. As he became more comfortable his stance relaxed and he assumed a more confident position, but it took several minutes. The congressional aide next to me who witnessed the same thing I did remarked, “I guess he’s just a little anxious.” Even the way we stand sends messages, so its important to be aware of what your doing with your body.
- Showcasing (pictured above) – Peacocks will display their bright plumage in hopes of attracting a mate. Human beings are animals and we too show off our best assets in hopes of garnering attention. In this picture of celebrity Angelina Jolie, she is doing some serious “showcasing.” She is utilizing a wide and confident leg stance, and has placed a hand on her hip, drawing attention to the focal point of her torso. This is a stance that oozes the message, “I have confidence in my appearance.”
If you are able to appear more confident your life interactions will have better outcomes. This will in turn build true confidence. It takes some time and practice to build these gestures into your natural body posture. Change is a process not an event.