So you have an exciting date with someone new, a nail-biting interview for your dream job, or an incredible networking event on the horizon? If you're an introvert, any one of these events could cause you to have palpitations, but don't worry; you can learn to fake confidence even if you're not the most outgoing of folks. There's no need to hop aboard the worry train just yet, because you are going to nail this. You don't need to pretend to be someone else, act, or bedazzle anyone with a personality performance — you can pretend to be confident and still stay true to you.
Feigning confidence isn't just a great strategy to use in social situations. According to fellow Bustler Elizabeth Nolan Brown, faking confidence at work actually pays off. Nolan Brown discovered in a Fast Company article on appearing competent at work that Drake Baer, co-author of organizational psychology book Everything Connects, discussed some great news, "...new research suggests that just appearing to be competent is as important to getting ahead." This is super awesome information for introverts, or anyone who struggles with confidence in the workplace. If you're needing to look more confident in any situation, here's what you can do.
According to WebMD your smile says a lot about you. Lily T. Garcia, DDS, a past president of the American College of Prosthodontists told WebMD, "A smile conveys confidence and professionalism." If that wasn't enough, WebMD writer Joanne Barker said, "A smiling face tells people that you’re an outgoing and intelligent person worth getting to know." So whether you're in a social or professional scenario, it's always a good idea to smile. Although, make sure it's sincere and your smile isn't too OTT.
2. Keep Eye Contact
Even if you're super nervous and the thought of maintaining eye contact with someone is enough to set your palms sweating, I implore you to put your big girl pants on and give it a go. In an article for Forbes, Carol Kinsey Goman, international Keynote speaker and author, discussed eye contact facts. Ms. Kinsey Goman said, "Too much eye contact is instinctively felt to be rude, hostile and condescending..." Whereas, she later argued, "Too little, on the other hand, can make you appear uneasy, unprepared, and insincere." She concluded that, "As a general rule, though, direct eye contact ranging from 30 percent to 60 percent of the time during a conversation – more when you are listening, less when you are speaking – should make for a comfortable productive atmosphere." As someone who finds new social situations and meeting new people a breeze, my advice would be not to think about it too much, do what comes naturally and you're sure to get it right.
3. Dress Up
According to Vogue, dressing confidently can affect your mind, "It’s no secret that assembling an outfit is like selecting social armor, and that what we wear has power over others..." I certainly find this to be true. I always dress super smartly for interviews, even if I know the company is contemporary and has a modern, laid back approach — I do this so that potential employers know that I am serious about wanting to work for them. The same can be said for special events and parties; if there is no dress code, I always dress up rather than down to exude confidence.
4. Stay Fresh
If you've had a hard day at work and you're not feeling so fresh, don't risk going to your event when you're not feeling your best. When you arrive at your destination – be it an important meeting with clients, a dinner date, or a birthday party – the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether or not you're a little smelly. The same applies to your teeth: If you had garlic for lunch or lots of sugary foods and your gnashers are feeling a little rough, go home to freshen up. Alternatively, if you're really stretched for time, pack a chewable toothbrush, some baby wipes, and deodorant in your work bag so that you're ready to freshen up on the go. Being super fresh makes me feel way more confident and less self-conscious automatically.
5. Be Prepared For Anything
I like to think of myself as a modern day Mary Poppins because I'm a British gal with a handbag that has me prepared for anything. While I may not have a hat stand, a house plant, or a floor lamp in my handbag, I feel that the contents of my bag keep me prepared for whatever life may throw at me. Obviously I've got the essentials like sanitary items and a compact mirror, but I also usually carry around red lipstick, my diary, my business cards, and painkillers for whatever situation may arise. When you have an array of items on your person that could assist you in a variety of scenarios, you can relax a little more. When you're feeling prepared (and consequently more relaxed and at ease,) your confidence will come more easily.
6. Don’t Be Afraid Of Silence
Anthony Silard, CEO of The Global Leadership Institute, discussed pausing in conversation during an article for The Huffington Post. Silard said, "Pauses in conversation during which you think calmly and confidently about what you want to say next are like the brief moments of silence between notes: without them you create noise, not music." It's better to say nothing than attempt to nervously fill gaps with words that mean nothing. Gather your thoughts and communicate exactly what you want to say, instead of appearing a little jittery.
7. Go First
You might find yourself in a group interview, at college waiting for someone to show their work to the class, or you may find your team presenting ideas to a potential client – whatever your scenario, always go first. For starters, by "going first" you are immediately getting the nerve-wracking activity out of the way so you can relax sooner, instead of being on edge the whole time you're waiting for your turn. From my experience, putting yourself out there and volunteering to go first in whatever situation you're in is impressive: It looks like you can't wait to share your ideas or that you believe what you have to say is great. By going first, people may think you are much more confident than you really are, even if you're sweating profusely and trying your hardest not to physically shake. Afterwards you can sit back and actually enjoy what everyone else has to say.
You see, it pays to pretend, even when you're an adult!
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