By Ilhamie Arif
Confidence is key to your career success. It is believed that those who display more confidence than competence are more admired, awarded a higher social status, and have more influence.
But there are times when you may not feel confident, such as when speaking on stage to an audience, having a one-on-one conversation with a new person or an intimidating colleague or participating in a meeting. You have the opportunity to exude confidence even when you might not feel confident.
What you have to do is to focus on your physical presence. You can use your body, even before saying a word, to demonstrate your confidence. This is critical to helping others see you as a leader. To believe it, they have to see it.
Here are seven simple actions you can take to instantly appear confident:
Firstly is “lock eyes”. When you are engaging with others, make eye contact with them. Do not look at your surroundings or electronic gadgets, such as your phone. If you focus your attention on them, it makes them feel important. If they feel important, they will respect you.
Secondly, shake hands like you mean it. Reach out to initiate the handshake when meeting a colleague, whether this person is someone you are meeting for the first time or an old pal. A firm handshake shows your intention of saying hello and that you are focused on them.
Thirdly is to briefly and lightly touch the other person’s shoulder. Show confidence and warmth at the same time by briefly and lightly touching the other person’s shoulder as you go in for the handshake. Touch is powerful and, if done right, can both demonstrate to the other person your confidence and put the other person at ease. President Obama does this often. He signals his leadership by placing his hand on the shoulder of the person he meets. However, you should be aware of cultural differences as some cultures they do not feel comfortable and sensitive when it comes to touching any part of their body, that is why it is important to study the other cultures as well.
This act may be bold to some, particularly if you are younger or in a subordinate position. If you want to advance in your career, you have to start acting like the leader you want to become and do not over think it. A quick, gentle touch on the shoulder conveys your confidence and leadership (which you can exhibit at any career stage), not an effort to exert dominance.
Fourthly is to stand up straight and not rest on an inanimate object. If you are standing and speaking before an audience or with an individual, do not rest on a podium, the wall, or the bar. Stand up straight. You want to show that you are actively engaged and invested in the discussion and not just casually listening.
Fifthly is to keep both feet on the ground. When speaking publicly or with an individual, have your feet firmly planted on the ground. Crossing your legs or shifting your weight from one leg to another makes you look like you are fidgeting and nervous. This will make the other entity feel less confident with you.
Sixthly is take up space with your hands. The more space you take up, the more confident you look. Don’t be afraid to open up your arms wide and gesture with your hands like Hillary Clinton does or take up some space at the meeting table. But keep your movements controlled and bear in mind that too much or quick movement can look chaotic.
Lastly, do not use your arms as a shield. Many people, unknowingly, cross their arms or stand in a funeral director’s pose (palms inward crossed in front of you). Covering or shielding parts of your body can be a sign of nervousness. It can also make you look standoffish and make others feel uncomfortable. Try to keep your palms open if you are on stage, your arms up at the stomach area if you are speaking with someone one-on-one, or in sight on the table if you are at a meeting. ***