Finding yourself in a new situation can make you feel uncomfortable, no matter how normally confident you are. Whether you find yourself at a networking event or a job interview, or are just the new guy at the office, here are seven ways to appear confident when you're really not:
1. Posture: Stand up straight! Keep yourself poised at all times with your head held high and your hands uncrossed. Your body language is everything, and sitting slumped in the corner with your arms folded across your chest just screams "I don't know what I'm doing here."
2. Make eye contact: Even if it feels weird, make eye contact with people when you meet them, talk to them, or pass by them. Confident people have no reason to fear looking people in the eye, and doing this throughout the event or workday will help you become more confident in the process.
3. Dress the part: When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you naturally exude confidence. If you're starting a new job, go out and splurge on a new outfit that really fits and makes you feel professional. You can also do this for speaking engagements and other events. Having a few standby outfits that you know you look good in will eliminate any anxiety you have about your appearance or how your outfit is holding together.
4. Don't apologize: It's so easy to say "I'm sorry" every time something goes wrong, but for goodness' sake just stop it! Apologize only if you actually played a part in something that went terribly wrong, and follow up the apology with a plan of action. Apologizing for every single thing, including tiny mishaps like a couple of spilled drops of water at dinner, makes you seem like a doormat, and people will pick up on your lack of confidence quickly.
5. Speak up: You might be the new one in the office, but that doesn't mean you don't get to speak up in meetings or with your co-workers. Even if you feel completely out of place, speak up if you have an idea for a problem that has come up, or for a new project. Nothing projects confidence more than having ideas, and nothing will boost your confidence more than proving to yourself that you really do belong here.
6. Smile: So simple, yet so often underutilized, smiling is a simple way to project confidence and demonstrate your happiness to be in whatever situation you find yourself in. You'll naturally ease your tension by smiling, so doing this long enough will end up actually relaxing you and making you more confident.
7. Ask questions: If you find yourself in a conversation with someone you look up to or just a higher-up in your office and feel your lack of confidence creeping in, turn the conversation around. Ask questions about the other person to divert attention away from you, yet keep you engaged in a conversation and demonstrate your conversation and listening skills.
It's never easy to be in an unfamiliar situation, and it's common for anyone to lack confidence at one point or another. Use these tips to fake your way through any awkward or uncomfortable social situation. With practice, you'll become a pro at faking confidence, most likely to the point that you don't need to fake it anymore.
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