Confidence is a crucial trait if you want to get far in your professional and personal life. It affects how people see and treat us, but also how we feel about ourselves!
Unfortunately, though, there are some behaviors that can make you seem less confident and sure of yourself.
The good news is, these behaviors are easy to stop, and with a little bit of practice, you could completely change the way you come across to the rest of the world!
Let’s start with the first behavior:
1) Constantly saying sorry
Sometimes we get into the habit of saying sorry (especially if you’re from the UK where we apologize to pretty much everyone and everything) but it can also be a huge indicator of low confidence.
You see, when you constantly apologize, especially if you’re not in the wrong, it makes you appear unsure of yourself and your decisions.
Only apologize when necessary! And try to change your wording…Instead of saying, “I’m sorry if this is a dumb question” try saying, “I have a question that I’m not sure about.”
2) Using filler words
Are you the type of person who uses words and sounds like, “um”, “like, and, “you know”?
If so, using such filler words can make you seem less confident and uncertain about what you want to say. But I get it – the word “like” is used so heavily now, especially amongst our younger generations!
So, even if you’re not doing it consciously, it could still make you appear nervous or hesitant.
Practice saying what you’re about to say in your head before verbalizing it. If you do make a mistake and use a filler word, pause, take a breath, and keep speaking but with the focus on NOT repeating the word again.
3) Avoiding eye contact
Eye contact is another behavior that makes you seem less confident – when we avoid looking into another person’s eyes during conversation, it makes us look shifty and uncomfortable.
And as well as making you appear unconfident, it can also damage the connections you build with others – eye contact is super important in showing people you’re engaged and interested.
The first step is to try to look at people’s eyes, even if you have to look away every now and then so it doesn’t feel too intense (for some, this can be very nerve-wracking). If you really struggle, at least look at their forehead or nose, it’ll still give the illusion of making eye contact.
If you find yourself constantly:
- Moving from one side to the other when sitting
- Shaking your legs
- Blinking a lot
- Tapping your foot on the floor or fingernails on a table
You could be coming across as less confident and extremely unsettled and uncomfortable!
And whilst severe fidgeting in some cases may indicate ADHD (best to speak to your doctor if you think this could be the reason)…it can also develop out of habit or nerves.
Keep your hands still by sitting on them, or use a stress ball to squeeze whenever you’re feeling that your body has extra energy and needs to move.
5) Speaking too quietly
No one likes a loudmouth who shouts all the time, but if you’re speaking too quietly, it could make you seem less confident, especially if people struggle to hear you!
Well, it gives the impression that you’re unsure of what you’re saying, or afraid to voice your opinions.
Take a deep breath before speaking, and try to speak from your diaphragm rather than your throat. Ask a close friend or family member to help you practice until you reach the volume you’re happy with.
6) Playing with hair or clothing
Next up on behaviors that make you seem less confident is playing with your hair or clothing.
If you’re at work, for example, and you keep picking at your split ends or fidgeting with the button of your shirt, it can make you seem distracted and uninterested, but also nervous.
Focus on making eye contact rather than looking down at your clothes or hair. If you still struggle, try holding a pen in your hand or a stress ball under the table that you can squeeze instead of using your hands to play with clothing.
Over-explaining happens when we feel like the other person will doubt what we’re saying, so we ramble on unnecessarily.
But this behavior, whilst also making you seem less confident, also gives off an air of defensiveness. And the two combined aren’t a great combination!
Focus on the most important parts of the message you’re trying to convey. Don’t get bogged down in the details – if people want more information, they’ll ask for it!
And if you’re still not sure, you can always say, “I can expand if you need more information.”
8) Interrupting people
Now, whilst interrupting people is another behavior that can make you seem less confident, it can also make you appear rude!
Which in most cases, probably isn’t your intention.
But the truth is, when we interrupt people, it can signal that:
- We’re uninterested in what the other person is saying
- We have a fear of not being heard
- We’re unconfident in our listening and responding skills (so we interrupt the flow of the conversation)
If you find yourself doing this, don’t worry, this is another behavior that is easy to stop.
If you’re worried you’ll forget what you wanted to say by waiting for the other person to finish, make a mental note, or even jot it down quickly if you can.
Take a deep breath before speaking, as this will give you a chance to see whether the other person is still speaking, or has stopped long enough for you to now offer your opinion.
9) Not being prepared
Are you the type to rush out the door, five minutes before an important meeting?
If you arrive at work disheveled, stressed, and huffing and puffing, it could make you appear less confident, and certainly unprepared!
Even worse, it gives off an unprofessional vibe.
Set your morning alarm slightly earlier so you can enjoy your coffee and get ready with plenty of time before leaving. Prepare as much as you can the night before (like your lunch, work clothes, briefcase/bag, etc).
If preparing for a meeting or speech, give yourself a few weeks to research, make notes, and practice what you’re going to say (instead of doing it the night before!).
10) Always being negative
And finally, if you’re always negative and looking on the dark side of life, this could be another behavior that’s making you appear less confident.
You see, people who are positive and look for solutions instead of focusing on problems, tend to give off a more secure, settled, and proactive vibe.
But those who are always cynical and pessimistic can give off the impression that they’re not confident enough to change their situation and live a happier life.
Remove negative people from your life, first and foremost. Surround yourself with those who uplift you and encourage you – this will make a world of difference.
It’s also important to focus on finding solutions when you do spiral into negativity…instead of dwelling on the bad stuff, practice gratitude for all the good things you have in life!