When it comes to social situations, it's perfectly normal to feel nervous. Between finding the right thing to say, to remembering everyone's name, putting yourself out there and trying to make a good impression is not an easy task. That's why experts say it's important to be mindful of
how to appear confident, because it may help you feel more comfortable too. While you should always feel free to be your truest self around your friends and partner, some situations — like a job interview or a networking event — may require more effort to tap into your true self because they're more high-pressured situations.
And the good news is, that's very doable. By being aware of any habits that might make you seem unconfident, you can then make a few adjustments, and show people the real you. And that can mean projecting an awesome, go-getter vibe to the world.
"Other people will take cues from you and if you don't believe in your own ability and talent, why should they? This makes projecting confidence very important in getting opportunities, moving forward, building social connections, and generally being successful,"
NYC-based leadership and life coach Shefali Raina tells Bustle. "Interestingly, once you start projecting confidence and taking actions accordingly, your brain will also reprogram and you will truly become more confident soon!"
So if your quirks and habits are the result of nervousness, these tricks will work for you. Here are a few common habits that may make you seem unconfident, as well as what to do about them.
Forgetting To Project Your Voice
When you're shaking hands and meeting someone new, or giving a speech in front of a large crowd, it's important to project your voice. As
certified counselor David Bennett tells Bustle, when you speak softly, it may seem like you don't believe in what you're saying because people are having a hard time hearing you .
But this habit is easily remedied. "Practice speaking from your diaphragm and projecting your voice," he says. This will make it easier for people to hear you, so you can
get your point across effectively . and confidently
Filling "Awkward" Silences
When you're with your friends and family, making a joke or talking just to fill a silent moment in a convo is completely fine, but when you're around new colleagues or prospective employers, doing this can actually make you seem
less confident. It's alright to try and get a conversation going, but attempts to keep a conversation up when there are brief pauses may come off as forced and give people the wrong impression of you, executive coach Christopher Kingman tells Bustle.
That's why it's totally OK to give yourself a few beats between stories, or even sit quietly for a while. As Kingman says, "Having the confidence to sit in silence, [and not] make a joke to 'lighten the mood' shows you are comfortable in your own skin."
Refusing To Accept Compliments
We've all had that moment where we've brushed off a compliment, either due to embarrassment or in an attempt to be humble. But why not appreciate your good qualities and say "thank you" and move on?
"Rather than deflecting ('Oh, but
you're the smartest!') or diverting ('Oh, this shirt? I got it on sale...'), learn how to confidently say 'thank you,'" yoga teacher and life coach Amanda Huggins, tells Bustle. "In doing this, you're not only making it less awkward for the person who paid you the kind words, you're also doing yourself a major service: you're acknowledging the good qualities in yourself! So rarely do we give ourselves enough credit for how wonderful we actually are. This small tip is a step in the right direction towards building more self-confidence."
If you're a fidgeter — maybe you play with your hair, tap your foot, bite your nails, etc. — it may knock your perceived confidence down a few pegs. And, as
life coach James Pollard tells Bustle, it can even get to the point where it happens so often, you no longer realize you're doing it.
To stop, all it takes is some awareness. "The best way to stop fidgeting is to let people around you know that you’re trying to stop and to tell you when you’re doing it so you start to become conscious of it," he says. So ask a friend or friendly coworker to gently point it out the next time you're frantically tapping your pen, and you'll be well on your way to breaking the habit.
Interrupting Convos To Give Advice
Everyone interrupts from time to time, but it's not a great idea to turn it into a
habit — especially if you're doing so to interject unsolicited advice. While you may have a valid point to make, it's always a good idea to ask first.
"By asking, 'Would you like my thought on this issue' or 'May I offer a suggestion here?' you are preserving autonomy for the listener," Scott Crabtree, chief happiness officer at
Happy Brain Science, tells Bustle. "You are showing that you are secure and confident enough to ask what people want," instead of offering unwarranted advice.
Sounding Unsure When Speaking
When you're feeling insecure, it's really easy to turn statements into questions, simply by lifting your voice at the end of your sentence. This can make you sound nervous, says
executive coach Lisa Sansom. And it may make it easier for others to take you less seriously.
To seem more confident, being aware of this tendency is a great place to start. And it wouldn't hurt to seek the help of a professional, either, if you're really feeling held back by this habit. "Working with a speech coach can help you correct this to make your statements sound more meaningful," Sansom says.
Eye contact can be difficult to make, especially when you're feeling nervous. But do be aware of how shifting glances — or no eye contact at all — can make you seem less confident.
"When confident people talk to people,
they make eye contact for the most part," says Raina. "If you feel overwhelmed or self conscious at the idea of looking into someone's eyes, consider staring at the point between their eyes — they will not know the difference!"
Just be sure to look away, too. "Remember not to stare non-stop," she says. "Take breaks where you look away."
Having Closed Off Body Language
Let's say you're at a party or networking, and feeling super nervous. You might be tempted to stand in the corner of the room with your arms crossed over your chest. But really, this is the opposite of what you should do.
"If you close yourself off you will appear uninterested, so although you may be very interested in the conversation, you are telling [others] the opposite,"
life coach Casey Moran tells Bustle. " Practicing opening up can be very awkward at first, but will become more natural over time and not so 'exaggerated' to you ... This takes practice, so again try it on people you don’t know and work your way [up] to co-workers, etc."
Asking For Everyone's Opinion
While it's OK to ask for advice, it shouldn't be your first and only move. "If you are always asking others what they think, what you should do or say or wear, you come across as [unconfident] in the long-term," says Raina. "People are drawn to people and trust and respect people who have a point of view. If you notice you are always asking for others' opinion, consider taking a pause and first asking yourself (in your mind) what your own opinion is and going with that instead. "
Standing in the corner at parties can really hold you back.
"When you are at an event with lots of people, sometimes joining a large group can seem overwhelming," says Raina. "If you notice yourself doing this often, stop, and consider taking a deep breath, and walking over to another person standing by themselves and introduce yourself. Chances are they are also equally overwhelmed and will be delighted to make conversation with you."
Constantly Checking Your Phone
It's normal to glance at your phone when you're feeling nervous, just as something to do with your hands, or to help break up an awkward silence. But, again, it's a habit that may give people the wrong perception of you.
If you're on your phone, it may seem like you don't want to have a conversation with others, health and
wellness coach Caleb Backe tells Bustle. Instead, take a deep breath, keep your phone in your pocket, make that eye contact we were talking about, and have a relaxed conversation.
If you feel uncomfortable at first, that is totally normal, but experts say these tips will help you feel more comfortable being yourself in new situations.