10 behaviors that make you appear less confident in social situations

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Don’t you wish you could stride into any room and be commanding and confident? If you’re like me, you’ve probably had that fantasy, but the reality couldn’t be more different. Instead of having that commanding presence, you find yourself shrinking into the background…

I’m no stranger to that. As an introvert, I know all about the awkwardness that comes in social situations. But you know what? 

Over the years, I’ve figured it out – sometimes it boils down to certain gestures or behaviors we do that tell people we’re not confident.  

Want to know what they are? In this article, I’ll go into the top 10 behaviors that might be making you appear less confident in social situations. Read on and find out!

1) Avoiding eye contact

I’ll start with something I’ve noticed with many people I meet for the first time – eye contact. Or rather, the lack of it.  When someone talks to me and barely meets my eyes, I immediately think they’re feeling shy or nervous. 

Ask any body language expert and they’ll tell you – avoiding eye contact can be a dead giveaway that you’re feeling insecure. 

In fact, research shows that maintaining eye contact is one of the most powerful ways to exude confidence and show the other person that you’re genuinely interested in the conversation.

Now, I’m not suggesting you need to lock eyes with everyone you talk to – that can be borderline creepy and disconcerting. But finding a comfortable balance is crucial. 

Try focusing on the space between the person’s eyes, or alternate between their eyes and mouth. This way, you’ll come across as engaged and attentive, without feeling like you’re staring them down.

2) Slouching

While we’re on the topic of body language, let’s talk about how you position your body. 

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, but good posture really does make a difference in how you’re perceived. Slouching or hunching over can make you appear less confident, even if you don’t realize you’re doing it.

I’ve found that simply standing or sitting up straight can have a positive impact on my mood and self-confidence. When your posture is open and upright, you’ll appear more confident and self-assured. 

In fact, it goes beyond mere appearances – practicing good posture actually turns you into an honest-to-goodness, no-BS confident person. 

Don’t believe me? Watch this Ted Talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy.  

3) Fidgeting

Another giveaway that you aren’t being your most confident self is fidgeting. It’s amazing how our hands seem to take on a life of their own when we’re feeling nervous.

Twisting rings, tapping fingers, leg-jiggling, or playing with our hair – these are all signs that we’re feeling uneasy in a social situation. 

Unfortunately, it’s also super distracting for both you and the person you’re talking to, making it difficult to focus on the conversation. And because you can’t focus, you end up being even less confident!

To combat this, try finding a more discreet way to channel your nervous energy. Maybe crossing your fingers in your lap or holding onto a small object (like a pen) can help keep your hands occupied without drawing attention to those fidgety feels. 

4) Speaking too quickly

Speaking of nerves, another way anxiety shows up is in the pace of our speech. 

When we’re anxious, our speech often speeds up. It’s like we’re trying to get everything out as quickly as possible, hoping to escape the spotlight. 

I used to do this myself, until a colleague asked me point-blank, “Why do you talk so fast? It’s so hard to follow you sometimes!”

That made me pause and think. Why indeed? 

I saw how rushing through my words was giving off the wrong vibes. It wasn’t sending the message that I was in control of the situation and confident in what I was saying.

If you struggle with this as well, take a deep breath and slow down. I now take the time to do this, being ever so conscious of how I enunciate my words. 

Another thing that has helped me is this positive affirmation: “My thoughts are worth their time.” Believe me, it didn’t happen overnight, but slowly, it helped train my brain to be more certain and composed. 

5) Apologizing unnecessarily

Are you a chronic apologizer? Do you say “sorry” for every little thing? 

I used to think this was a polite thing to do, but when I paid attention to how confident people speak, I realized that “sorry” wasn’t a normal part of their vocabulary. 

I don’t mean that they don’t know how to apologize; they just don’t do it for things that aren’t their fault. 

So, ditch that habit – be mindful of what you should and shouldn’t be apologizing for. 

And instead of saying sorry for every tiny perceived mistake, try expressing gratitude or acknowledging the situation in a different way. 

For example, if you weren’t able to reply to a text right away, instead of saying, “Sorry for the late reply,” try, “Thanks for the patience.” 

This slight change in language helps you appear more poised and self-assured.

6) Using weak language

As you’ve seen in the previous section, your language matters. Do you find yourself using words like “kind of,” “sort of,” or “maybe” when expressing your thoughts? 

These qualifiers can weaken your statements and make you seem less confident in your opinions. 

Just as damaging as qualifiers are fillers – words like “uh,” “um,” “like,” “you know…” and so on. 

When it comes to speech, it always pays to be more assertive and direct. Use clear and concise language that leaves no room for doubt. 

Just this little tweak can do wonders in making you seem more confident than you actually feel!

7) Relying on self-deprecating humor

This one isn’t exactly weak right off the bat, but when used too much, it can make you look less confident. 

Look, using self-deprecating humor has its own benefits – it makes you look relatable and even endearing.

But constantly putting yourself down? That’s going to take a toll on other people’s perception of you. 

So if you use this as a defense mechanism to avoid the vulnerability of being judged or criticized, it’s time to break this habit. 

Focus on developing a more positive and balanced sense of humor. It’s okay to poke fun at yourself occasionally, but also remember to strike the right balance between being relatable and sure of yourself.

8) Not asking questions

Back in high school, there was this girl who was always asking the teacher questions during the class. I found her so annoying, but it was only when I was a little more grown-up (and more mature and self-aware) that I realized what really annoyed me. 

It was envy. I was jealous of her confidence. While I never asked questions in class for fear of looking stupid or bothersome, she had no such reservations. 

Not asking questions has its roots in fear – fear of looking ignorant, of being judged/dismissed/rejected…

Unfortunately, if you never ask questions, you might indeed not be disruptive, but you also end up looking insecure. 

That’s why I now ask questions when I do have one. I’ve found that all my fears were baseless – asking thoughtful questions actually makes me look more confident and curious. 

9) Not accepting compliments gracefully

Ah, this is another one I’ve been guilty of. When people would compliment me, I would always downplay it or brush it off. I would give off huge “aww shucks” vibes.

Do you do this, too? 

Well, then, I have news for you. Dismissing compliments can make you appear less confident and may even leave the person giving the compliment feeling awkward or unappreciated.

In fact, sometimes it might come across as false modesty, which is even more annoying! 

So, how does one accept compliments? With grace and gratitude

A simple “Thank you” or “I appreciate that” shows that you’re confident enough to accept praise without diminishing yourself or making the situation uncomfortable.

10) Overthinking

Finally, I have to talk about overthinking, which I think is one of the most common reasons why people are less confident than they should be. 

I totally get it – sometimes, it’s so tempting to replay conversations in our heads, analyze every interaction, and worry about what others think of us, especially if we did something embarrassing. 

This constant rumination can make us appear less confident and even hinder our ability to be present in the moment.

For me, the key to breaking this habit lies in mindfulness. We need to focus on the present situation and push those endless worries aside

And I’d love to leave you with this interesting idea my socially-savvy sister once told me when I was overthinking an embarrassing situation at a party I went to: 

“It’s only embarrassing if you’re embarrassed.”

That thought freed me up big time. I realized that the way I react to a situation affects other people’s perception of me. 

So now, when I do something embarrassing, I find it easier to brush it off!  

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