When was the last time you turned down an invitation to avoid socialising with people you’ve never met? Or enviously listened to someone get up on stage and talk in front of people with any apparent inhibitions?
The good news is, you’re not alone.
According to psychologist and counsellor Polly Sengupta, that ultra confident person you admire is inside you, feeling just the same way. Because the bottom line is that looking confident and feeling confident are two very different things. Body language and behaviour expert Anita Singh from Mumbai claims that, for most people, the display of confidence is a big fat lie.
So, we give you seven quick tips from the experts on how to appear, and feel, more confident.
The first step to presenting a confident front to your colleagues is to focus on the inside of your body. Before entering a room full of people, or even stepping out into a busy area, take a moment to pause, pull your shoulders back, and draw yourself up to your full height.
“This allows your ‘confidence core’ to stretch to full size, and you’ll be amazed by how much more confident it will make you appear,” Sengupta says.
Make a list of things that you need to achieve every week, and tick them off as you complete it. “It’s a sure-fire way to make you feel more accomplished and better about your capabilities,” Sengupta says.
Simultaneously, make a broader list of things that you want to achieve – whether a holiday destination or language course. You’ll feel even more accomplished if you can cross those big dreams off your list.
This involves identifying any situation which will typically prompt a negative response in your head, such as ‘You can’t do that’ or ‘That’s a really stupid idea’. The trick here is to be aware of these thoughts when they occur, and to choose a strong and authoritative ‘leader voice’ to bat them away with something positive.
“Think of the voice as someone from your past who could always get you to achieve things – be it a teacher, a parent, a close family friend, etc. You should use your leader voice to argue back against all those negative thoughts, and expel them from your mind,” Sengupta says.
As Jack Canfield, an American author and motivational speaker, says, “You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.” Things can always be reworked later to try and make them better, but always see the bigger picture.
“The more time you spend agonising over getting every detail just right, the further away you will get from getting anything constructive done, and the worse you will feel,” says Singh.
Whether it is working towards a deadline, planning an event or gathering, or even just trying to impress someone new, Singh adds that chances are if you see it through until the end in one go, the end result will turn out a lot better than you hoped, and expel a lot of those niggling doubts that you had at the start.
This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. We’re not talking about getting a tattoo, or jumping out of an aeroplane. It can even be something as small as making a bold fashion choice or donning a colour that you wouldn’t normally go for.
Just do something that people wouldn’t normally expect of you – and, much more importantly, that you wouldn’t normally expect of yourself, Singh says. “Even doing something small every day will lead you to something bigger – you will grow and will begin to feel unstoppable. Your ‘unusual’ action will also most likely invite compliments or positive comments from those around you, making you feel more confident on more than one level,” she adds.
Want a quick pick-me-up? Call up that best friend.
“The people you feel most laid-back and confident around are your close friends. Make the most of this feeling by speaking to them regularly,” Sengupta says. They are the people who know you best, and know how to make you feel at your best, so confidence around your friends is basically effortless, she adds.
And why not try getting back in touch with an old friend you have fallen out of touch with? Again, this might seem frightening, but it will almost always turn out for the better. After all, you two were close once, so chances are you’ll soon fall back into step with one another – and you’ll get a confident boost from taking the first step.
Just like standing up straighter, wearing a composed, friendly smile is something you can do to outwardly project an aura of confidence, and to make people feel more relaxed around you.
It also makes you more approachable. Research further suggests that flashing a smile helps reduce stress and lift your mood, says Singh.
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