Confidence is in the eye of the beholder. It is as much to do with how others see you as to how confident you feel. This means that first impressions really do count. When people perceive you as self-assured, they respond to you accordingly. Bear in mind that people are not telepathic and can only deduce who you may be from what they see and hear. The secret, therefore, is to adopt as many habits that ‘signal’ confidence as possible. Whatever the event you find yourself at, here are 7 of the simplest that you can try out straight away to boost how others see you.
1. CHANNEL THE MONA LISA
At heart we are still cavemen and women who instinctively inspect faces of strangers for any signs of a potential threat to us in case we need to literally ‘fight or flight’. Our impetus to run relaxes once we see a glimmer of a smile on the newcomer’s lips. As the danger level dwindles, we can let our guard down and engage in small talk.
Take the lead here and follow the Mona Lisa’s example. Wear a gentle smile when you walk into the room. Let your face tell the world that you are friendly, allowing those you meet to recognise you are ‘safe’ to them and can be trusted.
As a side benefit, smiling also signals to your brain that it is happy and therefore releases happy chemicals which make you more relaxed. Win-win all around.
2. COPY NATURE
Look at everyone around you right now. I bet you’re looking at a sea of people in varying shades of black and grey. It goes with the season. The less sunlight there is, the darker our clothes become. This is your opportunity to incorporate colour into your appearance. If you consider the natural world, colour equals healthy, vibrant and dynamic — all the things that people are attracted to.
Those who wear colour are perceived as more confident. Level up your appearance through adding brighter colours. Start with painting your nails a daring colour or a bolder scarf or top. If this is not suitable for the environment you are in, try a red lip instead.
3. STAND TALL
Rightly or wrongly, people still believe tall people to be more successful. This goes back to the survival of the fittest. Now, we can’t do anything about our height, but we can improve our posture and how we take up our personal space.
First, let’s make ourselves taller. Picture a string pulling through your body and out through the top of your head. Can you feel yourself lifting up slightly?
The second tip is to imagine someone pulling your shoulders backwards so that they might meet behind you. This will open your frame to make you look more impressive since everyone these days tends to hunch over their phones.
4. RAISE AN EYEBROW OR TWO
If eyes are the windows to the soul, then eyebrows are their cheerleaders, although for years they were unrecognised in our communication toolkit. However, over the last 15 years this has changed, and the power of a good arched brow has been recognised and the eyebrow industry is now worth millions of dollars.
Used wisely, eyebrows can communicate a level of charisma that will win over most people. Raising your eyebrows briefly when you greet someone will inject a level of energy that many will find hard to resist. Try raising your eyebrows when reacting positively and see that reaction that you get.
5. LET YOUR HANDS DO THE TALKING
Hands are important communication tool to express what we are saying. Children use gestures instinctively, as do blind people who don’t even see them.
Charismatic people use their hands to punctuate and amplify their ideas and thoughts. In a study of TED talk speakers, the most popular speakers used twice as many hand gestures as the less popular ones. However, too many gestures can be distracting. A happy medium is to keep your hands in the space from your shoulders to your hips.
If you are not sure whether you use your hands much when speaking, try filming yourself talking a relaxed conversation. If you think you need to use your hands more, start by pointing to your chest when you say ‘I’ to emphasise your points of view.
6. STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
If you want people to notice you, then wear something different to the rest of the crowd. People can blend easily into the crowd by wearing the same colour (think wintertime) or the same outfit (remember that spotty dress from Zara that was everywhere last year?) so seize the chance to show off your individuality! People are drawn to people who show confidence with creativity. Put on something unique, like that funky necklace you bought on holiday, or the funny t-shirt you got off Etsy. People always come up to me to complement me on my bronze shoes each time I wear them. I then seize the opportunity to start a conversation.
People gravitate to calm people. Consider how well admired Michelle Obama, David Attenborough and Roger Federer are. Calm people are seen as unflappable and in control –essential qualities for modern day leaders in this frenetic world.
To achieve calm, learn to breathe well — into the belly — and regularly. When we become excited or start to panic, we tend to shallow breaths in the chest. This causes our voices to become more high-pitched and not the self-assured tone a confident person uses. Calm people are also more likely to take their time, pausing and breathing between sentences. This also allows everyone else the time to process their words and keep up with the conversation.
So, there you are: 7 simple steps backed by science. Remember that you are in control of what people see and hear. Trust in these tips and watch how people respond to you!
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Previously published at choiceologist.com on 19 January 2020