Hey, Psych2Goers! We’ve all heard the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it,” but what does that actually mean. It’s kind of manifesting what you want through action rather than repeating it like a mantra or writing it on a vision board. This principle applies to something that affects all of us – confidence! Some of us have it naturally, and some of us need more help finding it. For those of us who need that extra boost, here are 7 body language hacks to look (and feel) more confident!
Side Note: Confidence and the concept of confidence are both objective concepts. Our definition of confidence might look different than another, but that doesn’t mean either is wrong. If you struggle with your version of confidence, please reach out to a mental health professional.
When you plan to do something, it’s proactive and calm as opposed to being reactive and rushed. This applies to our movements. When you plan to go to the cupboard to get a cup, you can slowly and calmly open the door and grab your favorite Naruto cup. This is different than if you open the cupboard and have to rush to catch the glass as it falls off of the shelf. These rushed, jerky movements show uncertainty. However, when you slow your movements down or rather take time to think through your actions, that sureness comes through to others as confidence.
Eye Contact When It Makes Sense
When you’re trying to talk to someone and they are doing everything they can to avoid contact, it can put a weird feel on the conversation. In some cases, it can make you feel like this person may be lying, but this can also be a sign of low self-confidence. Subconsciously, the person may not feel equal to the person or people they’re talking to, so they don’t make eye contact. One example of this is someone giving a presentation and feeling a slight tinge of imposter syndrome, like they don’t know what they’re talking about when they did the research. Now, we don’t want non-blinking, staring eye contact. That’s creepy. Stop that. Making appropriate eye contact, like in a presentation or conversation, can really increase the perception of confidence.
In 2020, a study was conducted around power posing. In this study, students were asked to do a literature review, but before that stressful task, half of the participants were told to strike a power pose. What’s a power pose? You know the classic super hero pose. The Peter Pan, even. Feet spread hip width apart, hands on your hips, chest out, chin up, and head held high. After the task was completed, the participants who partook in the power pose were found as more confident. So, the next time you’re about to do something that’s making you doubt yourself, find a private place and take a quick power pose to boost your confidence.
Watch Your Walk
Okay, get up. Yes, you, and yes, I’m serious. Are you up? Good. Go take a walk down the hallway or to the kitchen and back. Don’t worry, we’ll still be here. Are you back? Awesome! How big were your steps? Yes, the size of our STEPS can even show whether we’re confident or not. Imagine you’re at the beginning of a haunted house with your worst fear at the front. You think you’re going to take giant steps to eagerly get in there? I think NOT. I’ll be tippy-toeing my butt in that entrance just like Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. Just as this image portrays, smaller steps can show a lack of confidence. Taking those strong, larger, and even calculated steps gives that confidence of a person who knows where they’re going.
Check Your Posture
Think back to your high school theater class. When someone told you to act “shy” or “unsure”, what would you do? In 2000, Richard Payne wrote an article on body language. He writes “As you stand up to address the audience, be aware of your body language. Are you looking confident, or are you apologizing for your existence?” Instead of believing they don’t belong on the stage, Payne goes on to paint the picture of a confident individual who addresses the audience as such. This person is standing center stage, chin parallel to the floor, and your weight evenly distributed to both feet. The next time you find yourself in a situation where you could use a bit of confidence, do a quick posture check. Checking posture and your weight distribution can help stop any nervous habits, like slouching or swaying from side to side, which can increase both confidence and credibility.
Take Up Your Space
There’s definitely a running theme when it comes to confidence and body language. As we’ve already seen, when a person makes themselves smaller by using poor posture or even trying to make themselves invisible by quick movements, this screams low self-confidence. But what about when someone is making themselves smaller in their own space. Let’s say you’re on the bus (before social distancing life). Do you cram yourself and your belongings into the corner so you don’t bother anyone, or do you sit fully in your seat because this is your space? If you picked the former, don’t worry. I do the same thing sometimes. You are equal to everyone else and deserve your space, too. Taking up your space and not being afraid to do so is a huge move in confidence.
Show Me Your Hands!
I think there’s been a time or two in everyone’s life where the phrase “I don’t know what to do with my hands” became all too real. For me, it was taking pictures with my significant other. Sure, I had one arm around them, but… what do I do with the other one? So, in every picture, I have one arm around them, and my other hand plastered to the side of my thigh in a very unattractive death grip claw like shape. All of my nerves and insecurities magically migrated to my hand. If you couldn’t tell by my awkward smile, you could definitely tell by the hand. When we do things like this, stuffing hands in our pockets, or even fidgeting, it gives off that same perception. When we show our hands, either by gesturing or even resting them on a table or the chair we’re in, this shows how confident you are not needing to distract yourself from the fact that you’re in a stressful situation. It’s a quick fix, too!
There can be a lot of situations where a person can feel less than confident. Whether it’s asking someone out, doing a presentation at school, or asking for a raise, we hope these body language hacks give you the boost you need. If you try one out, let us know how it made you feel or even drop a hack of your own below! As always, keep an eye on Psi for more Psych2Go content!
The references used in and to compose this article are listed below:
Cuncic, A. (2022, March 23). 12 ways to have more confident body language. Verywell Mind. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/ten-ways-to-have-more-confident-body-language-3024855
Gameiro, M. G. (2020). Review of body language posture, and an exercise called “Power posing challenge” to improve one’s confidence. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Social Sciences and Economic Development (ICSSED 2020). https://doi.org/10.2991/assehr.k.200331.032
Indeed Editorial Team. (2021, July 21). 13 ways to show confidence through body language. Indeed Career Guide. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/confident-body-language
Morin, D. A., Sander, V., Szurdoki, G., Wright, T., & Haworth, A. (2021, July 23). 21 ways to get a confident body language (with examples). SocialSelf. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://socialself.com/blog/confident-body-language/
Noel, K. (2016, March 31). 8 body language tricks to instantly appear more confident. Business Insider. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.businessinsider.com/body-language-tricks-appear-more-confident-2016-3#-8
Payne, R. (2000). Presenting with Confidence. Journal of Environmental Health, 62(9), 32. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A63398515/AONE?u=anon~e8a1d454&sid=googleScholar&xid=f6686257