Confidence is everything. It’s a trite truism that is nevertheless true. Some people just naturally seem to stand out at work. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably experienced this personally: those times when a co-worker got the sale before you did, got that promotion before you did, or got a bigger bonus than you, and all they seemed to have was nothing more than a smile and a handshake.
What happened? Well, it was probably their body language.
Humans, as it turns out, are social creatures not just in the way we speak to each other. We’re also extremely non-verbal. We can pick up subtle signals that our conscious minds aren’t registering, and body language is one of the biggest, most important, most visible signs that we look for when assessing another person.
And it’s not just how we perceive each other, either. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has discovered that powerful body language can make you feel more powerful- that is, acting like you’re confident makes you feel more confident.
So that co-worker that seems to have an aura of magic around him? He is magic- it’s the magic of confidence, that indescribable magic that makes others trust him, like him, and promote him while making him feel invincible and unbeatable. And it’s all in the way he’s presenting himself non-verbally.
The best thing about that magic?
It’s a magic that can be taught.
1) Keep Your Hands Out Of Your Pockets
Pockets are a confidence killer. Putting your hands in your pockets signifies that you’re nervous, uncomfortable, and unsure, and as an added bonus it makes you slouch, which triggers another wave of negative associations. In short, it’s the opposite of everything you want to project.
Some people have a hard time letting their hands be neutral. In that case, put your hands on your hips. It’s a far more confident and assertive pose that will inspire confidence in others!
2) Don’t Slouch
While we’re on the subject… don’t slouch! Stand up straight and keep your shoulders up. This is especially difficult if you’ve been used to slouching, as often happens to people who work at desks for long hours of the day. Standing up straight, however, is one of the most powerful weapons you have in your confidence arsenal, and you need to make sure that you’re standing up straight no matter where you are or where you’re walking.
3) Look Ahead
This one’s a tough one- naturally we’re inclined to look down or up and away in general from where we’re going. But this doesn’t reflect well on you- people who look down or away while they’re walking tend to come across as uncommunicative, aloof, and unapproachable. Instead, keep your head up and your eyes looking forward, making eye contact. People will notice it and they will respond to it.
4) Take Purposeful, Long Steps
Nervous, timid people scurry, taking little steps and ducking around corners as though they’ve done something wrong. Not us- not confident people. We stride. Take large, purposeful steps and always seem like you have a destination in mind. Remember, you’re confident, you’ve got places to be, and you belong in those places!
5) Don’t Cross Your Arms
Don’t cross your arms when you’re talking with someone else! This is what’s called a low-power position- you’re pulling in, defending yourself, showing you don’t want to be engaged. Try to keep your hands on your hips, or if you’re sitting, sit upright with your hands in an open position, showing you’re calm, collected, and upon to engaging.
6) Quit Fidgeting
Fidgeting is a sign of nervousness, and nervous is a definite negative in any sort of interaction, whether it’s in the office, at a business meeting, or even a client lunch. Keep those legs steady and quit tapping the table! It’s fine to talk with your hands, of course, but make sure that your movements are controlled, calm, and inviting.
We know we have to own it out there, no matter what field we might be in. But there are some days where we’re just not feeling it. And that’s okay. You’re not going to feel your best naturally every day.
So you’re going to make yourself feel good. Make yourself adopt the poses above, even if you’re not feeling like Superman. Because at the end of the day, after you’ve faked being confident all day long, you’ll find out something amazing: you actually are confident. You made the magic happen- you faked it until you became it.