Sep 6 2009

Faking Confidence


Feeling confident is not always easy but can be vital to a successful outcome in stressful situations such as job interviews, first dates and auditions. Sure, the best way to look confident is to actually be confident, but “being confident” is much easier said than done when you are up against many candidates for the same job. Since you only get one chance to make a good first impression, it is often important to know the techniques to come across as confident. These techniques and habits are not only advantageous in critical situations, but can actually help you to feel more confident as you practice them.

Appearing confident starts with posture. Body language is the the first thing people read about you and an open body language helps both partners in communication feel more engaged. Sit our stand tall. Keep your shoulders back and down. A hunched position exudes insecurity or fear. Open your body language to receive the person you are coming into contact with. Keep your arms or legs uncrossed. Crossing your limbs indicates that you are unwilling to share or receive information. Leaning back or to the side can signal to other parties that you are not interested in what they have to say. If you are interested, smile. Smiling is the fasted way to give another person a good feeling and to receive a good feeling in return. There is a reason that the smilie emoticon was invented for text chat. We respond quickly and naturally to the smile. A person who can easily smile through a difficult question or situation exudes confidence like no other.

The number one reason for stage fright is lack of preparation. Go into every situation ready. If you are auditioning, know your piece very well. If you are interviewing, practice with someone else before you go in. Know the information you wish to share and be ready for as many questions as you can. If you are going on a date, do not try to answer in a way that you think the person wants to hear. Instead, be yourself and be honest. This has the advantage of weeding out the people who you might be incompatible with. Your date may not respond to you, but if that is the case it is actually good. You have saved yourself the trouble of finding out that information at a later time. Remember that you deserve a mutually beneficial relationship.

If an opportunity arises to show your abilities, take it. However, be humble when you receive praise. You have talents or abilities that are unique to you. Explore these and find opportunities to share them as often as possible. You have value, so show it off. Be careful however not to peacock around too much because this can actually show insecurity rather than confidence.

Maintain eye contact. There is nothing that shows insecurities like looking away or at other things during a meeting. If you are with one person, establish eye contact early and maintain it. You can use your eyes to charm and connect with another person if you just have a few simple guidelines. Most psychologists say that the inability to maintain eye contact is often received as an intent to deceive. An insecurity may not actually be an intent to lie to someone else, but it is how you will be perceived if you do not meet someone else’s eyes and keep them.

Most cultures around the world equate honesty with the ability to converse while maintaining open eye contact. In the animal kingdom, the act of looking away is interpreted as the act of submission. It is a natural defense mechanism. When you engage another this way, you are saying that you are not afraid and you accept them. If you have nothing to hide, keep those eyes on the person you are with and you will be rewarded. Most people focus on one eye or another; dominant eye to dominant eye. However, if you find yourself looking from one eye to the other, focus on the space between both eyes and you will give a better impression.

If you are addressing a group, pick out the friendliest faces in the crowd and meet them with your eyes. Most of these people will be nodding along with what you have to say. Use them as your base, but don’t neglect the others. Meet everyone’s eyes but continue to come back to the friendliest of the group.

Be sincere. There is nothing to gain from making false statements or not being honest. You can’t fake credibility and people respond best to sincerity and genuine interest. You have a lot to offer, so there is no reason to lie about it. Most people fudge a little on their resume, but if you fudge a lot it is going to show. After all, consider who you enjoy speaking with. Who are you going to trust?

Approach everything as an opportunity to learn. When we dwell on our failures, we fail to give ourselves the ability to gain valuable insight from them. If you botch an interview or a date, it is fine. Everyone does. The people who choose to learn from their mistakes are the ones that have the most success. The more you put yourself out there, the more confident you will become.