The way we communicate with our bodies is a captivating language tool that often speaks louder than words. Beyond our verbal skills, body language influences how other people perceive us. Even the tiniest of gestures can give us that much-desired air of confidence or expose that we are a vulnerable, quivering wreck of insecurity.
Let’s explore some key body language mistakes people often make and how to level up our non-verbal skills to convey our inner confidence and swagger to the world.
Problem 1: The shrinking posture
When you meet someone who looks more like a wilting flower, with hunched shoulders and a face to the floor, you generally think they are insecure and don’t want to be noticed.
This classic posture makes you look less confident than those who stand up like the tallest tree in the forest. People perceive us as timid and afraid when we close our chests, let our shoulders droop, and adopt a shrinking stance.
They respond to us like someone who might be hurt easily or can’t take constructive feedback, which can be an absolute nightmare, especially in professional scenarios such as giving a presentation. Even if you are shaking with nerves, try the solution below to give the impression and air of a confident person.
Solution: Imagine a string is pulling your head upwards towards the sky and that your shoulders are being gently pulled back. Lengthen your spine and engage those core muscles (even if you think you don’t have any).
By making this simple adjustment to your shrinking posture, you’ll project self-awareness, and people will naturally listen to what you say as if you have some authority.
Take a deep breath before you speak, smile, and look around you like you own the place. The stage is yours; embrace it with confidence, whether or not you are actually shaking inside.
Problem 2: Elusive eye contact
Our eyes are the window to the soul; they can give away our deepest desires or reveal insecurities we thought we’d buried. Holding someone else’s gaze can feel super daunting, especially if we feel a bit shaky.
Therein lies one of the greatest insecurity giveaways—the darting eye syndrome, where we can frantically look around the whole room, taking in everything except the person we are conversing with.
For anyone who has experienced an interaction with someone who is utterly unable to meet their eyes, you’ll know that it comes across as avoidant. You can be left wondering what’s so interesting in the top left-hand corner of the meeting room.
Avoiding eye contact at all costs makes you seem insecure and uninterested, and I’m sure you’d never intend that to be the case. So what can you do about it?
Solution: Even though it might feel uncomfortable at first (as most new things do), you need to cultivate the art of meaningful eye contact by focusing on the person in front of you.
Try to hold eye contact for a few seconds before looking away to give you a feeling of genuine connection. However, be careful that it doesn’t turn into a creepy stare scenario—you don’t have to look intensely into their soul without breaking the gaze at all.
Getting the delicate balance between an awkward, prolonged stare and an authentic connection will have you feeling and appearing totally confident in no time.
Problem 3: The awkward handshake
The difference between giving someone a firm handshake and offering up a limp, clammy hand that feels like a wet fish can mean you either exude confidence or insecurity.
Fumbling this simple act can be awkward and clumsy, leaving the recipient wondering as if they’ve just encountered a lifeless aquatic creature. Obviously, nobody wants to feel like an initial introduction went like a surprise meeting over the fish counter.
So what can we do to ensure our first handshake with someone new displays a calm and confident demeanour?
Solution: Mastering the art of the handshake asks us to aim for a balance between firmness and gentleness. If you are prone to clammy hands, then make sure you give them a quick wipe before you go palm-to-palm with someone.
You can practice your technique with family and friends who should be more than willing to help you find the sweet spot that asserts confidence and ease. Smile as you reach for the handshake, make eye contact, and don’t hold on for dear life—you aren’t trying to win a wrestling match.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the most obvious body language faux pas, let’s look at three easy and enjoyable ways to boost your confidence through body language.
1) The power pose
This pose aids in boosting your internal feelings of confidence and is common among interviewees, motivational businesspeople, and public speakers.
Imagine you are Superman and stand tall, put your hands on your hips, spread your stance a little wider than usual, and puff out your chest, feeling the power of assertiveness spread through your body.
This is definitely one to do as you practice at home. I don’t recommend you break it out the next time you try to appear confident on a date, as it could come across as a little weird.
2) Mirroring and matching
People naturally feel more comfortable with others who exhibit similar body language to theirs, and you can utilise this by subtly mirroring and matching the gestures and posture of the person you are interacting with.
It helps create trust and makes you appear more confident and charismatic. Please don’t take it too far by parroting the other person’s movements. It’s more like leaning in to listen when they do or mirroring their smile.
Allowing yourself to let a genuine smile spread across your face can instantly enhance your confidence and radiate warmth to the people around you. Your smile has to reach your eyes, so don’t just plaster a grin on your face and hope for the best, as you’ll look fake.
If you’re finding it hard to smile authentically, try thinking of something funny your friend once said or a particularly hilarious part of your favourite movie.
Getting your body language blunders in check can be difficult, especially if you aren’t one of those lucky ones blessed with natural charm and charisma.
You’ll likely make awkward mistakes and find yourself in less-than-ideal situations, but know that it’s all a learning curve—you aren’t going to wake up one day with the swagger of Mick Jagger.
Just commit to practicing a few of the techniques I’ve shared here, either in the mirror or with your friends and family, and you’ll be well on your way to showing new levels of confidence in all areas of your life.