If you have an important presentation coming up at school, or a big interview, or a chance for a raise, then you may be wondering if there are ways to project a more commanding presence to get what you want. Projecting confidence leads others to believe you have your sh*t together (whether you do or not), and therefore makes them more inclined to give you an A, or a raise, or that new fancy job.
We all know about vibes, and how other people make us feel. People who come off as confident and assured seem to have an easier time in life because people instinctively trust them more. Of course, it's possible to be successful in life regardless of how people perceive you, but sometimes a commanding presence can give that little bit of extra edge. So why not give it a try?
I understand it can all be easier said than done, especially if you are a ball of nervousness. But even the most nervous, anxiety-ridden people have a glimmer of confidence somewhere. And if not, then, sometimes you just have to pull the old "fake it 'til you make it" deal.
If you are feeling a bit unconfident and need an extra boost to get what you want out of life, then take a look at these ways to come across as the commanding, self-assured lady that (I'm sure) you already are.
1. Stand Up Straight
It's normal to want to curl up into a ball or blend in with the wallpaper whenever you are feeling less than confident. Counteract this tendency by taking up all space you need and stand up straight, whether it be on the subway, while walking down the street, or when meeting someone for an interview. Improving your posture will improve your mood, and help project more confidence. According to writer Lecia Bushak for Medical Daily, "standing up straight makes you feel better, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Go ahead, try standing up straight right now, and it’s guaranteed to boost your mood and make you feel more confident."
2. Use A Calm & Even Voice
I just watched a TEDTalk given by sound consultant Julian Treasure. It made me take a second look (or listen?) to my voice and the way it's perceived. According to Treasure, there are several ways to alter your voice, such as by changing your register and pace (aka talking too high or too low, or too fast). He also spoke about "prosody," which is the sing song tone people use when they speak (it makes listening to someone speak more interesting, because they aren't monotone). Repetitive prosody, on the other hand, is when people end their sentences on a higher pitch as if they were asking a question, when in fact it's a statement. Who hasn't done this? Ending a statement in a question does not a confident woman make. Instead, be sure to end your statements as just that — statements — and people will be more willing to take you seriously.
3. Make Eye Contact, But Don't Be Creepy
When you're lacking confidence, it can be easy to look down at your shoes or at your nails, but resist this urge. Looking sheepish while asking for something, such a raise, can make people feel like you don't really want or deserve it. So be sure to make the right amount of eye contact, especially when it comes to business situations.
According to Carol Kinsey Gordon, PhD, for Forbes, the right amount of eye contact is like Goldilocks and the three bears. "Too much eye contact is instinctively felt to be rude, hostile and condescending ... Too little, on the other hand, can make you appear uneasy, unprepared, and insincere," she writes. The perfect amount of direct eye contact ranges from 30 percent to 60 percent of the time during a conversation, and a bit more when you are listening.
4. Resist Saying "Um" Or "Like" A Million Times
Using your natural voice to speak is of course perfectly fine, but when it comes to situations that require a bit more aplomb (like when giving a speech, interviewing for a job, or speaking with your boss), you may want to skip all the "umms" and "likes." Filler words like this can make you come off as unsure of yourself, so wait until you know exactly what you want to say before speaking up. And if you find yourself "umming" away, slow down and take a deep breath so that you have time to collect your thoughts.
5. Have Calm Body Movements
Let's say you're giving a dissertation, or an important presentation at work. No one is going to take you seriously if you are scrambling for papers, drumming your fingers, or shrugging a lot. Of course, moving around frantically is a common nervous reaction, but if you want to look like you know what you're doing, take a moment and slow down.
6. Quit Apologizing
Women have a tendency to apologize too often and too quickly, and for things that we don't need to apologize for. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Science, it was found that "women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior," and so that's probably why we're quick to say "sorry." Remember this next time you want to start a sentence with "I'm sorry, but..." Instead, say what you mean and ask for what you want.
It can be difficult to maintain a commanding presence, especially if your insides are wriggling with insecurities. But project confidence on the outside with body language, eye contact, and an even voice, and you'll be more likely to get what you want in all aspects of your life.
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