Do you want to look more confident?
A big part of being confident is looking the part. Body language communicates much more information than the actual words we use. People with low confidence slouch in their chairs, look down at the floor, cross their arms or have body language that tells other people they are not approachable. The first thing you can do to tell other people that you are friendly is to smile. Such a simple thing, but it may be the most important step towards overcoming shyness. People want to be around other people who make them feel good. Being around someone who is smiling makes people relaxed and open to meeting you. Another idea is to have a half-smile most of the time and when you see someone that you want to talk to show them the full smile. When people first come closer to talk to you show them a smile. Or when you approach someone be conscious of showing them a smile. A genuine smile is the most important so be sure to think at the same time that you are happy to see this person, so it does not look like a nervous smile. It is true that if you smile your mood will improve even if you were not happy in the first place.
“Language is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy will come through to your audience before you even start speaking.” – Peter Guber
Another important trait to watch is your body posture. Slumped shoulders and looking down can show signs of depression or low self-confidence. Fidgeting and putting your hands in your pocket are nervous habits that should be avoided. Instead, stand up straight with hands open and relaxed. Assuming a more confident body posture can make you feel more confident and people will rate you more attractive. Walk with confidence using long strides that make you look like you know where you’re going. A firm hand-shake is important; yet don’t grip so hard that it is uncomfortable or too long. A two handed handshake shows a little more warmth if you want to put your second hand on the other persons elbow or on top of the handshake. A body position with open arms is more inviting than one with your arms crossed. Make it a habit to observe your own body posture and adjust it to be more welcoming to others.
Or if it is someone you know, open your arms and suggest a hug. A big consideration in posture is to have an open posture that allows other people to feel comfortable around you. If you cross your arms it looks like a defensive posture that prevents people from approaching you. Instead, open your posture and position your body in a way that allows people to come in closer to talk to you. Actually if you directly face someone at first, it can be slightly intimidating, so choose an angle towards your partner that is slightly off center. As you converse, adjust the angle to be more towards them. You can also show interest by leaning closer and moving closer. If you are seated far from them, you can pull your chair closer if you feel that you have established an interest in each other.
Don’t forget proper grooming. Look your best. Comb your hair or spend time to make it look attractive. Spend a little extra on a hair stylist that makes you look good and keep going back to one that really knows how to style your hair. Men should shave and keep facial hair trimmed. Smell is important, so brush your teeth, use deodorant. You may even use a little perfume or cologne, but take care to not use too much. Keep breath mints in your purse, pocket or car. Wear attractive clothes that fit in with your peers and are appropriate to the event or occasion, but try to dress one step up. A success strategy at work is to dress for the next higher position you want to attain, not the current position you are in.
One of the most important ways of communication is with your eyes. In addition to smiling, this is one of the biggest things you can do to overcome shyness. People with higher levels of eye contact with others are perceived as being more confident, more emotionally stable, more warm and accepting, and more trustworthy and sincere. Making eye contact can help you land a job, make a sale, and appear confident when meeting new people. The eyes have been called the windows to the soul and were made to connect with other people. People are always looking for extra non-verbal signs of communication to add a meta-layer of information to the words we use. Looking into another’s eyes shows feelings; whether it’s excitement, boredom, honesty, flirtatiousness, or happiness.
“The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” – Audrey Hepburn
People who are happy are said to have sparkle in their eyes, while dishonest people have shifty eyes. Police enforcement people are trained to watch the eyes of subjects for signs of people telling the truth. People look in specific directions when they make up images in their mind, and another direction when they remember images in their mind. If this interests you, you could study NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, to become better at reading other people. The important thing is that if you don’t have eye contact, then you lose that information; you lose a connection to the other person, and they assume you don’t want to connect with them.
You can practice having better eye contact. Take some time to look in the mirror and connect with your reflection as a first step. Challenging someone you know to a staring contest might be another way to practice. You can even watch yourself in a mirror while on a phone call and pay attention to how you might look to others.