Researchers have consistently found a correlation between confidence and success. Confident people are perceived as being more attractive, they're better at sales and do well in the front of the room. They also believe they can handle whatever life throws at them and take more risks, which naturally leads to unlocking opportunities. If you'd like to see more of these characteristics in yourself, here's what you can do to be more comfortable in your own skin.
1. Always be ready to tell a good story.
Even if your life is generally quiet and lacking adventure or drama, you should always be able to answer the question "What's new?" with something other than "Not much." Confident people are good conversationalists, but it's a skill that some people need to practice more than others. Are you planning a vacation? Remodeling part of your house? Running kids around to sporting events? Invested in a big project at work that's demanding your attention? Find something interesting to say when someone starts a conversation.
2. Demonstrate inquisitiveness.
Also in the spirit of being a good conversationalist, try to show genuine interest in the people around you. Here are good questions to get people talking about themselves: What are you most excited about? What are you struggling with at the moment? What's next? You should also be prepared to answer these queries yourself -- doing so will help you be ready to tell a good story.
3. Practice good posture.
Do not slouch -- it communicates you lack faith in yourself. If this is a weak area for you, try posting a note on the edge of your computer display with a reminder such as an up-arrow in thick red marker. To correct yourself, roll your shoulders back and imagine pulling a string from the top of your head, elongating your spine and raising your chin so it's in a neutral, forward-facing position.
4. Stop worrying about what people think.
Less confident people often can't be present and their best selves if they're constantly asking themselves questions such as: Did I come across as confident? Did they think that I was smart? Did they think that I was successful? Did they think what I said was stupid? In truth, you can never really know what someone else thinks of you. So, instead of worrying about it, concentrate on what you want to communicate, such as asking good questions, not engaging in time-wasting small talk, and looking people in the eyes.
5. Eliminate negative self-talk.
Pay attention to what you're saying to yourself within your mind. Every time you think something like "I can't do this," replace it with something positive such as "I'm going to give it my best shot." The key is to step out of yourself and look at your self-talk as an outsider. How would it make you feel to hear someone sitting next to you say "I'm so [fat, dumb, ugly, slow, etc.]?" Pretty harsh, right? Nurture yourself within your thought life, just as you would with someone else.
It conveys confidence, regardless of what you're really thinking. Plus, many studies have found that smiling is highly correlated with whether or not a person is perceived as likable.
7. Learn from your mistakes without dwelling on them.
How you handle slip-ups is also important. Confident people understand no one is perfect, and however you just screwed up, it's probably not the end of the world. Ask yourself: How important will this mistake seem in three months? If your mistake involves work, acknowledge your flub and vow to do better next time.
8. Get good at public speaking.
If this isn't your strength, find opportunities to build this important skill. Before giving your talk, practice in front of family and friends. It's awkward, but will help you streamline what you want to say and envision being in front of the room.
9. Take an improv class.
This one is scary, but remarkably effective. Several successful CEOs have told me they credit improvisational theatre with the success they have been able to achieve in business and life. Typically, you're given a location and situation and need to create a meaningful story by interacting with two or three other people. Essentially, this kind of acting helps people become comfortable with uncertainty -- a trait all confident people possess.
10. Get physically stronger.
Strength training doesn't need to demand a lot of your time, and it can markedly affect your level of confidence. First, it can help you lose weight, as your metabolism increases with more muscle mass. It can also help your posture. Strengthening your core muscles --which include abs, back, and hips -- helps stabilize your spine and keep it aligned.
11. Invest in your appearance.
Whether this means buying a new outfit, getting a good haircut, fixing dental problems, or seeing an esthetician, people who look good on the outside feel better on the inside. In fact, researchers have found that when people think they are more physically attractive, they believe that they belong to a higher social class, regardless of how good looking they really are or their actual social status.