8 body language gestures that give away your lack of confidence

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You’ve heard it before: actions speak louder than words.

But did you know that the way you stand, move, or even touch your face can broadcast how you truly feel, even when you’re trying to hide it?

Confidence is a key ingredient in any professional or social setting. It can make or break a job interview, a first date, or any situation where you need to put your best foot forward.

But even if you’re saying all the right things, your body might be telling a different story.

Let’s dive into 8 common body language gestures that are revealing more than you think.

1. Avoiding eye contact

One of the first signs people notice? When you can’t hold or make eye contact.

When we feel unsure or intimidated, our instinct might be to look away or dodge someone’s gaze. A steady, but not overly intense, gaze can show you’re engaged and confident.

If you often find your eyes wandering to the floor, the ceiling, or constantly checking out that interesting spot on the wall, it’s a signal to others that you might be feeling uneasy or lacking in confidence.

Quick fix?

Practice holding gentle eye contact in conversations. It’ll feel more natural over time, and it’s a small change with a big impact.

2. Fidgeting and touching your face

I’ve caught myself doing this more times than I’d like to admit.

When we’re nervous or unsure, our hands seem to have a mind of their own. They twirl hair, touch our face, or play with random objects.

I remember once being so nervous during a speech I was giving that I kept adjusting my glasses—even though they were perfectly fine. It’s almost like our hands are trying to distract us from the discomfort.

The problem? It’s also distracting for those watching.

Next time you find your hands being overly busy, I’d suggest taking a deep breath and placing them on your lap or by your side.

It’s a small shift that can make a world of difference in how others perceive you.

3. Overcompensating with large movements

Here’s a twist: while many assume that shrinking and making oneself small signals a lack of confidence, the opposite can be true too.

I’ve seen people try to exude confidence by making larger-than-life gestures.

You might think that spreading out, using wide arm movements, or over-emphasizing points with exaggerated motions showcases authority.

But, in reality, it can come off as trying too hard or not being genuine.

True confidence is about being comfortable in your own skin without feeling the need to put on a show. 

4. Crossing arms or blocking your body

The body has its own language, and sometimes it speaks in defense mechanisms.

When we cross our arms, it’s not just a casual pose; it’s a subconscious act of self-protection, rooted in our evolutionary past.

Did you know that humans and many animals instinctively protect their torso, the part of the body housing vital organs, when feeling threatened or unsure?

So, when you stand with crossed arms, it’s like you’re putting up a barrier between yourself and others.

Instead of appearing engaged or open to conversation, you might seem distant or defensive.

5. Shuffling feet or uncertain steps

Walking into a room can say so much about your confidence levels.

I’ve often noticed, especially during my more anxious days, that my steps can lack the usual pep.

Instead of striding with purpose, I might shuffle along or take hesitant, tiny steps. It’s as if my feet are giving away the inner turmoil I’m trying to keep under wraps.

The reality is, people notice our entrance. Taking purposeful steps and being aware of your footwork is a step (pun intended!) in the right direction.

6. Speaking too loudly or over-assertively

Here’s something a bit unexpected: sometimes the loudest person in the room is the least confident.

It sounds strange, right?

But think about it. In an attempt to be heard and establish a presence, people might raise their voice or over-emphasize their points.

They believe that sheer volume will mask any underlying hesitation or insecurity.

I’ve been in discussions where someone suddenly cranks up their volume, thinking it lends them more authority. Instead, it can often come across as overcompensating or even aggressive.

True confidence lies in the belief that your words have value, regardless of their decibel level.

The key? Speak with clarity and conviction, not just volume.

7. Over-nodding

Ever noticed someone nodding excessively during a conversation, like they’re bobbing to every beat of a song?

While nodding shows agreement, overdoing it can suggest eagerness to please or even a lack of understanding. It’s like trying to fit in by agreeing with everything.

The secret? Balance.

A few nods show you’re engaged, but constant bobbing might just have people wondering if you’re at a silent disco. 

8. Avoiding taking up space

Ever seen someone trying to make themselves almost invisible, squeezing into the tiniest spot at the back of a room or hugging the wall in a meeting?

It’s a subconscious way of saying, “I don’t want to be a bother.”

But here’s the thing: you have every right to occupy space just as much as anyone else.

Shrinking away can send the message that you’re not confident in your place in that setting. 

Wrapping up

Body language is a powerful communicator, often saying more about our feelings than words ever could.

By recognizing these eight gestures, you’re already on the path to presenting a more confident version of yourself.

Remember, it’s not about faking it, but understanding and adjusting these subtle cues.

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