Whether you’re starting your first day of work or you’re scanning the lunchroom on your first day of school, a few simple confidence boosters can go a long way. You’ll make a good first impression by focusing on your body language. This will show others that you’re friendly and approachable. Even more importantly, you can use your body language to influence yourself. Use these simple tips to trick your body into feeling more confident.
In Amy Cuddy’s book Presence, she delves into the research about how our nonverbal behavior influences how we think, feel and act. It’s fascinating and I highly recommend her book. If you’re short on time, you can also check out her TEDtalk. For the highlights, here are some ways to help you increase your confidence in anxiety-inducing situations. You may be facing a few of those when you move somewhere new.
Imagine a Time You Felt Especially Confident
Before your move, you may have been at the top of your game with work or your friends. You felt safe and comfortable in your surroundings. Channel that confidence now. If you won a tennis tournament or booked a huge client, take yourself back to that moment. Imagine a situation when you were in control and held some command or authority over others. This simple act of recalling these memories can make you feel more confident in the present moment.
Realize that No One is Staring At You
Amy Cuddy calls this the “Spotlight Effect”. It’s human nature to think that people are paying more attention to us than they really are. Your life turns to movie mode when you walk into that cafeteria and all cameras seem focused on you. Cuddy explains, “The reality is that people just aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are – even when you actually are the center of attention.” (123). Even if you’re standing at the front of the board room, co-workers may be checking their notes or turning their phones to vibrate. So, when you’re about to approach someone new, know that you’re not being watched as you cross the room. If you mess up a name or stumble on the way over, it’s no big deal.
Stretch Out Your Body with Power Poses
Cuddy became famous for her Wonder Woman power pose. This is the money shot right here. The research shows that you can trick your body into feeling more confident by assuming certain body language. It’s the same with smiling. If you force yourself to smile, you can make yourself happier. If you force yourself to frown, you will make yourself angry or sad.
You want to make your body as big as possible by puffing out your chest, standing tall, and lifting up your chin.
Arms raised high in victory is the classic pose of a winner.
Pull your shoulders back, lift your chin up, and puff out your chest with feet shoulder width apart.
Stop Using Powerless Poses
Power poses serve as confidence boosters. Powerless poses will deplete your confidence. Unfortunately, we often use powerless poses in our daily life without even noticing it. Check your posture right now. Are you hunched over a phone? Are you sitting with your shoulders back and your chest out as you read this blog post on your computer? Be mindful of your body throughout the day. When you curl up in bed at night, you are making your body as small as possible. Take a minute in the morning to stretch out and to assume the confident posture you need to help you get through the day.
Mozart once said that the rests are more important than the music. There is power in silence. Try not to rush through a conversation when you meet someone new. Take it slowly. Just as you want to take up space with your body when you want to feel powerful, you want your voice to take up space, too. In her research, Cuddy found that participants felt more confident and powerful the slower they spoke.
Walk With Confidence
Your body sends signals to your brain whether you’re stationary or moving. To feel more confident, learn to walk the walk of the powerful. When you walk with power, you will use a longer stride and move your arms more. The powerless walker takes up as little space as possible. “Powerless walking is much more restricted, with very little arm movement, a virtually stationary head, and a shorter stride.” (155). Practice walking with confidence in your daily life to help you in the moments when you need it. Strut as you leave the parking lot or when you’re at the mall. It may feel awkward at first, but you’ll get the hang of it and it works.
Fake It Until You Become It
This may be my favorite Cuddy wisdom. When you start over in a new city, you get the chance to be whoever you want to be. That should include being the boldest and most confident version of you. We all need to fake it a little when we move. We put on a happy face and put our best foot forward to make new friends. Fake that confidence at first, but don’t lose it once you achieve your goal of meeting someone or getting through the transition period. Maintain that level of confidence. If you’re in the need for a little confidence boost, just go to a private place and strike your Wonder Woman pose for a couple minutes. No one will ever know.