Confidence is a tricky thing. Too little of it and people may overlook you. Too much and you might come off as arrogant.
But what if you’re doing things that make you seem less confident without even realizing it?
These subtle behaviors can undermine the impression you’re trying to make, but the good news is they’re usually easy to adjust.
In this piece, we’ll explore 9 behaviors that might be making you appear less confident – and how to tweak them. Trust me, a few minor changes can make a world of difference!
Let’s dive in and see if you’re guilty of any of these confidence-diminishing habits.
We’ve all been there – sitting in a meeting, nervously tapping our foot or twirling a pen. But did you know these small nervous habits can make you seem less confident?
Fidgeting is a common behavior when we’re anxious or uncomfortable. It’s a way of releasing nervous energy, but to others, it can appear as though you’re unsure or lacking in confidence.
The good news is, this is an easy habit to control. It takes a bit of self-awareness and practice, but the payoff is worth it.
Start by recognizing when you’re fidgeting – maybe you tap your foot when you’re presenting, or twirl your hair when you’re in a tough conversation. Once you’ve identified the habit, make a conscious effort to stop.
This small adjustment can make a big impact on how others perceive your confidence level.
2) Speaking softly
I’ve always been a bit of a soft-spoken person. It’s just part of who I am. But over time, I realized that this habit was making me seem less confident than I truly was.
In meetings or group discussions, my quiet voice meant that I was often overlooked or interrupted. People assumed that because I wasn’t speaking loudly, I wasn’t confident in my ideas.
I recognized this and made a conscious effort to speak clearly and with more volume. It wasn’t about shouting or being the loudest in the room; it was about ensuring my voice was heard.
This minor tweak made a huge difference in how people perceived me. Suddenly, my ideas were being acknowledged and valued more.
Don’t let your volume diminish your confidence!
3) Making yourself small
Ever noticed how some people shrink in their seats during meetings or try to take up as little space as possible? This behaviour can communicate a lack of confidence.
Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy found that adopting “power poses” – standing tall, taking up space, and opening up the body – can actually influence our hormones, increasing testosterone (the dominance hormone) and decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone).
By consciously choosing to adopt more open, confident postures, you can not only change how others perceive you, but also how you feel about yourself.
When you’re in a meeting, remember to sit tall and take up your fair share of space.
4) Avoiding eye contact
Eye contact can be a powerful tool in conveying confidence. When you look someone in the eye, it signals that you’re engaged, attentive, and secure in your position.
However, avoiding eye contact can send the opposite message. It may suggest that you’re uncomfortable, unsure, or not fully present in the conversation.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should stare intensely at every person you encounter. That can be off-putting and counterproductive. Instead, aim for a balanced amount of eye contact – enough to show you’re actively engaged, but not so much that it becomes uncomfortable.
A confident gaze can make all the difference!
We all have moments where we need to apologize for a mistake or misunderstanding. But if you’re constantly saying “sorry” for little things that don’t warrant an apology, you may come across as lacking confidence.
Over-apologizing can make it seem like you’re always in the wrong or are unsure of your actions. This can undermine your authority and make it harder for others to see you as a confident individual.
Working on this habit involves recognizing when an apology is necessary and when it’s not. If you’ve done something wrong or caused inconvenience, by all means, apologize. But if you’re saying sorry for merely expressing your thoughts or taking up space, it’s time to reconsider.
Switching out unnecessary apologies with phrases like “excuse me,” “let me clarify,” or simply stating your opinion can make a significant difference in how others perceive your confidence level.
6) Downplaying achievements
Sometimes, we’re our own worst critics. We achieve something great, and instead of acknowledging our hard work and success, we downplay it. I’ve seen many people, myself included, fall into this trap.
Perhaps it’s out of fear of sounding boastful or because we don’t believe our achievements are that significant. But in reality, this behavior only diminishes our confidence in the eyes of others.
Recognize your accomplishments for what they are – a result of your hard work and dedication. Don’t shy away from sharing your success. It doesn’t mean you’re bragging; you’re simply acknowledging your efforts.
Remember that owning your achievements doesn’t make you arrogant. It shows that you have confidence in your abilities and the value you bring. And that’s something to be proud of!
7) Hesitant body language
There was a time when I would walk into a room and immediately head for the back or a corner. I didn’t realize it then, but this hesitant body language was subtly communicating a lack of confidence.
Our body language can say a lot about us before we even open our mouths. Hesitant or closed-off body language can make us seem unsure or uncomfortable.
On the flip side, walking into a room with purpose and assurance, maintaining an open posture, and making use of gestures when talking can significantly enhance how others perceive your confidence.
It took some practice, but once I made these adjustments, I noticed a significant shift in how people responded to me. It’s amazing how these subtle changes can make such a big difference.
8) Negative self-talk
We all have that little voice in our heads. Sometimes it’s a cheerleader, other times it’s our worst critic. If your inner voice is constantly negative, it can chip away at your confidence.
Negative self-talk like “I can’t do this,” or “I’m not good enough,” can seep into your outward behavior and make you seem less confident.
The key is to become aware of this negative chatter and challenge it. Replace these self-defeating thoughts with positive affirmations like “I am capable,” or “I can handle this.”
The way you talk to yourself matters. Positive self-talk can not only boost your confidence but also change the way others perceive you.
9) Not asking for what you want
One of the surest signs of confidence is the ability to assertively ask for what you want. Whether it’s a raise, a promotion, or simply expressing your opinion during a meeting, being able to articulate your desires shows that you value yourself and your contributions.
If you’re constantly holding back or waiting for others to recognize your needs, it may signal a lack of self-assuredness.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice, it will become second nature and significantly boost your perceived confidence.
Final thought: Confidence is a journey
As we navigate through life, it’s important to remember that confidence isn’t something we’re born with, but a quality we cultivate over time. It’s a journey, not a destination.
Research by psychologist Albert Bandura suggests that confidence is a belief in our ability to succeed. This belief can be strengthened or weakened by our behaviors and habits.
The behaviors we’ve discussed here, from nervous fidgeting to downplaying achievements, can detract from your perceived confidence. But the beauty of behaviors is that they can be adjusted.
By recognizing and consciously changing these habits, you can significantly improve how confidently you present yourself to the world.
Confidence isn’t just about how others perceive you. It’s about how you perceive yourself. And every step you take towards adjusting these behaviors is a step closer to embracing your full potential with confidence.
As you reflect on this article, consider which behaviors resonate with you. How might altering these habits bolster your confidence? What steps will you take on your journey toward greater self-assuredness?
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