I'm an MBA grad, a business expert, an avid writer, podcaster and journalist. Here are my tips on how to show confidence with body language.
What is Confidence?
Confidence can be defined as a positive character strait projected externally that indicates to others that you are proud of who you are. Confident people are sure of themselves as well as their talents and abilities.
The above being said, confidence can mean different things to different people. For example, some may equate confidence to someone who has an engaging personality; while others may view someone who is knowledgeable and articulate as being a confident individual. Some may come to the conclusion that others are confident simply by how they walk -- tall with their head held high and shoulders straight.
Additionally, people show confidence in other ways including how they use their body language. Just what is body language? To put it simply, body language is the self-image you portray to people based on how you carry yourself or how you position parts of your body, such as your hands, head, arms, etc. The specific way that you perform these actions sometimes convey to people that you are not only confident but on the flip side if you are nervous, agitated or otherwise under some type of emotional strain.
For example, if you are with a group of people and you fold your arms tightly in front of you, some may think your folded arms indicate that you are closed off from them and are not open to participate in their conversations. On the other hand, if you are intreracting with a group of people and you have your arms outstretched as you talk and exchange ideas with them, they may think that you are friendly, mainly by noticing that your arms are not folded but are positioned in a welcoming pose.
Confidence and Body Language
Take a look at the picture of the people meeting below to determine if you can select the least confident person by how he or she is using their body language.
Who looks the Most Confident?
From observing the picture above closely, which meeting attendee seems to be the most confident and which appears to be the least confident. The odds are high that you will probably choose the man who has his arms raised as he animatedly appears to be making a point as the most confident person at the meeting.
I use the qualifier of "appear" because it is a known fact that many people feign their body language to project what they think would look favorable to others. In other words, even though he or she may appear to be a confident person, they may really be unsure of themselves. That is why regardless of how you feel about yourself, you should try to project a look of confidence to others -- who may not know who you really are.
In the above picture, the woman to the right would be viewed as the least confident, mainly because she is not making eye contact with the speaker, seems to be hunched over with her shoulders curved in and her hands are not on the table. She does not seem to take control of her space around her. Instead, her left hand is probably placed demurely on her lap. She also looks to be apologizing for the space she is taking up by her "closed-in" posture.
The rules of etiquette advocate that when you are at a meeting, you should not place your elbows on the table; however, there is nothing wrong with placing your hands on the table. Of course, from observing the picture, you may notice that some people have their elbows on the table, however, in business etiquette, this is frowned upon. That being said, there is nothing wrong with keeping your forearms on the table in a resting position.
Let's turn the tables and have the woman in the picture project a positive, confident self-image. Just imagine the woman with both of her hands on the table in front of her. This simple gesture alone would cause her to be perceived as one of the most confident attendees at the table. Also vision her sitting tall, with shoulders back, making eye contact with the speaker and paying strict attention to what he is saying.
If she made these small changes in her body language, others would view and perceive her as being a confident attendee at the meeting. As a result, they would probably be prone to perk up and listen should she speak out on a specific topic.
Show Your Confidence in Group Meetings and Settings
Let's take a look at the picture above of the people attending a group meeting. Interesting enough, there is no change with the perception of which group looks to be more confident. One woman has positioned herself to be in the background to the right. Kudos to the woman in the front row who appears to be confident and getting her point across by actively engaging in the discussion and seating herself towards the front of the meeting room.
There is a male standing at the back of the room, even though there are clearly enough chairs available for him to sit . Of course, he should take into consideration selecting a seat based on social distancing given the current COVID-19 pandemic situation.
By standing while others are seated, he is indicating that even though he is not speaking, he would like his presence to be noticed. Hence he continues to stand while others are sitting.
As a disclaimer, these pictures are only snapshots in time. Other pictures may show these people from different perspectives.The point of the picture is to illustrate how confidence can be shown just by observing someone's body language, especially in a group setting.
Keep Your Confidence Level High at All Times
You can display confidence in both your professional and personal lives. Confidence can be shown whether you speak up at meetings at work, while at a dinner or other gathering outside of work. The point is to show your confidence wherever you are.
You should exude confidence even in casual meetings. Doing so will not only make you feel more accomplished but you will earn the respect and admiration of the person or persons you are interacting with.
Regardless of your personality, whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or prefer to be in the background, etc. -- you should not hide your confidence. By the same token, do not go overboard to show that you are confident because you could be mistakenly labeled as being arrogant, or even worse, a show-off.
Easy Steps to Boost Your Confidence
Here are just a few of the many specific actions you can take to boost your confidence:
- Own your space at the table. Put your hands on the table and lean forward just slightly. In other words, enjoy the space that is yours with your complete body.
- Always stand tall with your head held high and your shoulders positioned slightly backwards. Your shoulders will help you to appear taller than your actual height.
- Do not put yourself in a position to be an outsider, looking in on what's going on instead of an active participant. Instead, envision yourself as an integral part of the group and remember -- you are just as important as the others.
- Keep your head held high. You cannot show confidence if you walk with your head down, probably looking defeated and as if you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
- Maintain good posture when you are sitting or standing, being sure to keep your back and shoulders straight. In other words, do not slouch.
Fake it till you make it.
— Robert K. Murton
Be Natural with Your Body Language
If you work too hard to show confidence, you will be looked upon as being fake. There is the adage, to "fake it till you make it." This all well and good -- just be sure not to go to the extreme to the point that you are no longer being yourself.
Additionally, when you pretend to have confidence, it becomes more of a chore than a natural ability. Practice mannerisms that show you are confident until they appear natural. For example, if you are in the habit of walking around with your head down, get in the habit of walking tall with your head held high. Just give it a try. Looking and feeling confidence via body language is much easier than you think.
Confident Body Language Tutorial
Courtlney Davis (author) on December 10, 2011:
Thanks for your comment and for voting up!
Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on December 09, 2011:
Great hub voted up.
gchicnotes on December 06, 2011:
You are very welcome. :)
Courtlney Davis (author) on December 06, 2011:
Thanks for your comments!
Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on December 06, 2011:
Haha, the one guy looks like he's praying - "Pick Me, pick me". kidding aside I can see your point, anyone I have ever known that has risen to the top fast is someone who has confidence and show it
Courtlney Davis (author) on December 04, 2011:
Thanks for your comments, and for voting up and useful!
gchicnotes on December 03, 2011:
Wonderful article. Confidence gets you far in life and I love your tips and how you related them back to the picture for visual learners. Keep up the great work. Voted up and useful!