How to Look Confident Even When You’re Not

Need some advice to help you get through moments when it feels like confidence can’t be found? We’ve all felt the pressure of stressful social situations, including people that appear to be unshakable.

The way I view and carry myself today is not the same as it was 10 years ago. I can honestly say that getting to this point came with its share of challenging moments and personal growth. Believe me when I say that there are tools to help you look more confident that actually work!

I’ve put together some lessons I’ve learned in the hopes that they will help you to appear to be your most confident and authentic self. Use these tips to help you exude confidence on the outside, even if it may not be what you’re feeling on the inside.

Body Language

While flowers can be a great aesthetic for wallpaper, allowing yourself to be a wallflower is an easy way for others to sense insecurity. One of the most impactful ways to project confidence is in the way you physically carry yourself.

When you resort to actions like finding a physical surface to anchor to, slouching, crossing your arms, or turning your body away from others, it can come across as defensive and insecure body language.

Rather than allowing yourself to instinctively go into self-preservation mode, take a moment to consciously scan how your body is positioned. Take up space to make your presence known rather than allowing yourself to become small. Stand up tall and try adopting a powerful hand-on-hip pose or slightly widening your stance.

Keeping your hands visible is also a great way to express confidence. If you notice yourself fidgeting when speaking, try using simple hand gestures to add emphasis to what you’re saying. When in doubt, try it out! If you notice others exhibiting what you perceive as confident body language, give it a try and see how it improves your perception of yourself.

By mimicking actions that make people appear confident to you, chances are you will likely have the same effect on others.

Speak with Intention

When we find ourselves lacking confidence, an easy way for others to recognize this is by the way we speak. There are many techniques we can use to make our words more powerful.

Perhaps the biggest sign of a nervous speaker is saying “um” too much or even at all. Instead, if you need to gather your words take a moment to think. Be comfortable with silence as it will help you to appear more thoughtful rather than unsure.

Another way to express confidence in the way you talk is by slowing down and projecting your voice. While it may be easier to stumble quickly through your words with a soft voice, speaking slowly and with intention will show confidence. If your goal is for people to want to hear what you have to say, you must speak with pride.

To engage your listeners even more, be it during a presentation or a simple conversation, be sure to smile when you speak. This will not only make you look confident but will also change the tone of your voice. Smiles are contagious, and this can be a great tool to help get reassurance that others are receptive when you start receiving them from your listeners.

Eye Contact

Our eyes are one of the most powerful ways we interact with the world. Even without saying a word, you can significantly impact the way your message is received by projecting confidence through eye contact.

When speaking, do your best to fight the urge to look at the ground or avoid eye contact. If making eye contact is well beyond your comfort zone at this point, try looking at a point on their face close to their eyes instead.

Keep in mind that the closer someone is to you, the easier it’ll be to notice if you’re not actually looking them in the eye so use this technique wisely!

Not only does eye contact make you a more powerful speaker, but it also makes you appear to be a more engaged listener. Below are a few examples of how eye contact and being engaged with the speaker can make you appear more confident.

  • If your lack of confidence is from not knowing the speaker, this will show that you’re trying to get to know who they are and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
  • If your discomfort stems from a lack of knowledge, engaged listening shows the speaker that you’re humble, curious, and want to learn more about a given topic.
  • If you feel intimidated due to the perceived status of the speaker, eye contact sends the message that you’re not one to shy away from a conversation because of “who” they are, as well as shows confidence in yourself.

Be Inquisitive and Practice Active Listening

Feeling too much pressure on yourself? Use those moments to shift the focus onto others while learning to be a better listener. Ask questions to get the conversation rolling and use meaningful follow-up questions.

This can be a great tool to get to a point where you feel you are ready to share your opinion or insights and step back into the limelight. What better way to show people your confident and caring nature than by getting to know them better?

Side Tip: Do you notice yourself having trouble finding a way into the conversation?

Don’t be afraid to laugh or add your opinion when you have something to share. Even small contributions can have a big impact on how engaged and confident you appear to others.

Give Yourself a Pep-Talk with Positive Thoughts

The best way to start your day and boost your perceived confidence is by connecting with yourself. Instead of allowing negative observations to creep into the forefront of your mind, give yourself a compliment! Maybe your skin looks radiant or you’re starting to notice the payoffs of your new workout routine.

Even a quick smile can have a huge impact on your mood and self-perception. So, let’s say you’ve tried this routine and didn’t find any benefit from it. The key to success is almost always repetition. Our minds’ responses to certain thoughts and emotions are conditioned from experience, and it can take a lot of effort to change patterns that are hard-wired.

Tell yourself how confident you are first thing in the morning and one day you may just find it to be true!

Recognize that You Aren’t the First Person to Feel This Way

Finding confidence in yourself isn’t a birthright, it’s something we all have had to work towards. And once confidence is found, it doesn’t mean that you’ll feel the same way every day. These feelings are not yours alone, we all experience the ebb and flow of how we see ourselves.

When we allow ourselves to acknowledge that others have the same feelings that we do, it helps to level the playing field. If we separate ourselves and give in to the notion that our lack of confidence is abnormal, it sets a false pretense for our interactions with others.

Practice this by imagining that the person or people you are speaking with have less confidence than yourself. Immediately, you will stand taller, speak louder, and perhaps even instill confidence in them.

Practicing Self-Compassion

A lack of confidence can result from too much comparison of where you think you should be, focusing on the accomplishments or appearances of others, or dwelling on past situations. Step out of cyclical, self-belittling thoughts and start to walk towards a mindset where you appreciate yourself.

The best way to combat this is by meeting yourself in the present moment with kindness and compassion. In a world with so many outside pressures and high expectations, remember that you are exactly where you need to be. Look back on the journey that has led you to this moment with pride.

Find confidence in your accomplishments and soon you’ll begin to realize just how gifted and unique you are. Another key aspect of self-compassion is letting go of previous interactions. It’s far too easy for negative self-talk to impact our perceptions of how something will play out. If you noticed something in your behavior that made you lose confidence in yourself, make note of it and move on.

Do your best to treat each instance as a new opportunity, using the lessons you’ve learned to be confident in the way you interact with others.

Breathe: A Quick Exercise to Boost Your Confidence When You Need It the Most

When all else fails, take a moment to connect with your breath. Focusing on breathing allows the body to transition from a fight-or-flight response to one of balance and rest. Know that it’s ok to step back for the sake of showing up as the best version of yourself.

If you ever feel overwhelmed or need an extra boost of confidence and self-love, allow yourself to regroup by practicing the following exercise:

  • Find a private, quiet space.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a few deep breaths.
  • Repeat this phrase in your head or out loud three times: “I have enough, I am enough, I am loved.”
  • Take one final deep breath in. As you exhale, visualize the anxiety and tension releasing from your body. You can stay in this space as long as you need or are able to before stepping back into the world.

Fake It ‘til You Make It

If adopting small changes feels uncomfortable in the beginning, stick with it! Eventually, they’ll become second nature and you’ll begin to find yourself thriving in social situations.

No one has ever grown into the person they are today overnight. Using these tools I’ve shared, I’ve been able to help myself look and feel more confident, and I know you can too!

Celebrate all of your unique qualities to give yourself an extra boost towards stepping into the confident person that you want to become. Be patient on your journey of personal growth and, most importantly, be kind to yourself.

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