13 body language mistakes men make when they lack confidence

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

We humans are funny.

As much as we like to think we’re somehow different and so much different from other animals, we still are animals.

If you haven’t watched Chimp Empire on Netflix yet, it’s a great way to learn about how body language in our nearest relatives reveals personality, social status, and emotional state.

You’ll definitely start seeing people you know in those chimps and maybe a reflection of yourself as well!

And that will lead you back to human body language and what it says about the person expressing it.

Like men who lack confidence, you can see it so clearly in their body language if you just know what to look for.

So here are some signs to help you pick up body language mistakes men make and maybe help improve them in yourself or other men you know.

1) Poker face 

Sometimes you want to hold ‘em like they do in Texas, babe.

But most of the time, keeping a poker face is a big mistake. 

A lot of men will assume this facial expression when they’re challenged on something or in negotiations. 

They mistakenly believe that by keeping a neutral expression, they won’t give anything away, and therefore, they’ll gain the upper hand.

But this isn’t how human communication works.

Imagine talking to someone who just looks at you like an unfeeling robot. Would that make you want to do business with them or even talk to them ever again?

This poker face is a mask to hide a lack of self-confidence, but it’s one that everyone can read.

2) Fake smile 

Instead of hiding their feelings behind an emotionless mask, some men will put on a big fake smile instead.

I think somewhere they read that a smile disarms people and makes them feel at ease, but what they missed was that the smile should be genuine.

And you can always tell.

A real smile is in the eyes and eyebrows as much as the mouth.

If you don’t see little crow’s feet-like wrinkles in the corners of his eyes, no amount of teeth flashing is going to convince anyone this smile’s genuine.

3) Unblinking stare

I grew up looking down.

Since I was little, I was always interested in gross things in the mud and weird bugs crawling in the dirt.

My mother tried her hardest to correct this behavior she called my worst feature by telling me again and again to make eye contact with people.

Now I can, and though it doesn’t always feel entirely natural for me, I know it has helped me get along better in social situations.

But some men who lack confidence take this a step too far.

In order to improve their eye contact, they adopt a penetrating, unblinking stare.

Rather than helping to make a connection, this kind of eye contact comes across as aggressive and really puts people and chimps on the defensive.

4) Avoiding eye contact

Right, then we should avoid eye contact altogether then.

Oops, no, that’s not good at all.

But this is one of the biggest signs of poor self-confidence in men.

It’s not that it happens with everyone, but when someone comes along who’s intimidating, like a so-called “alpha male” or someone he finds attractive, just watch those eyes drop to the floor. 

This happens automatically and subconsciously, but it speaks volumes.

It says he’s intimidated and shy and doesn’t feel like he’s up to entering the social interaction as an equal.

5) Nose touching 

Both men and women do this, but it seems more prevalent in men, especially those with anxious personalities.

I’m talking about nose rubbing, pulling, scratching, whatever.

In general, people touch their faces about 23 times an hour, which is only once every three minutes.

When you see a man constantly fiddling with his nose a lot more frequently than that, it’s a pretty good sign that he’s nervous, and that can show a lack of self-confidence.

And even if it’s not picking, it’s still not a very attractive behavior to witness.

6) Too close or too far

We started with facial clues, but now, let’s move on to focus on the real language of the body.

And what better place to start than right up close?

According to proxemics research, we let good friends, family, and partners into our close personal space of 1.5-4 feet away from us (45-120 cm). Professional acquaintances are allowed 4-10 feet from us (120-305 cm), and strangers usually are kept about 10 feet away.

So, anyone from the wrong category who gets too close is going to seem awkward.

And that’s what really happens with so many men who have low self-confidence. 

They might hope to be or feel like they are emotionally closer to us than they are, and they end up getting too close in person.

On the other hand, they might not feel they’re welcome when they are and awkwardly stay too far away.

7) Checking phone

Do you know anyone who likes it when you constantly check your phone when they’re talking to you?

Nope? Me neither.

But it still happens a whole lot.

Now, it might be a sign of phone addiction, which most of us admittedly have.

But it can also be a sign of low self-confidence.

Many men use the phone as a crutch to get through social interactions that make them anxious.

Being able to break away and look at their phones for a second can be a real relief, but it sure doesn’t make you enjoy talking to them!

8) Crossing

I’m not talking about crossing the street, but crossing the arms, legs, ankles, whatever.

Now, this one isn’t so clear-cut since these postures might just be comfortable.

But they can also make a man seem like he is lacking in confidence.

The research is out on whether there is anything to the theory that crossing your arms or legs is a sort of self-protection or even self-nurturing posture.

But whether it is or not, it can look this way.

After all, Superman stands with his hands on his hips and his chest sticking proudly out, not crossed and folded up like origami.

9) Hands in pockets

Keeping his hands in his pockets might just be comfortable for a man.

But it can be a body language mistake that makes him look anything but confident.

It usually makes the shoulders hunch up or make him stoop over, two things my mother always told me didn’t look nice.

It can also seem to some people like he has something to hide by avoiding gesturing and showing his hands.

10) Dead fish handshake

Ah, yes, the old weak handshake.

Have you ever had someone hand you a cold, slimy, limp, dead fish?

No? Well, me neither, but it sure has felt like it sometimes.

A handshake is supposed to convey trust and connection with another person, so giving them a weak one seems like you just don’t mean it.

11) Pneumatic press handshake


Uh, no.

You’re really supposed to give someone a firm but friendly handshake unless you’re trying to kill them. A handshake is supposed to help you get the measure of the other person (which apparently we do by other, weirder means as well!).

Overcompensating by trying to snap all of their hand bones is not going to impress anyone.

It’s just going to make a man seem like he’s trying too hard.

12) Squaring up

The next time you’re at the office or at a party, take a look at how people position their bodies when they stand talking to each other.

Three people naturally become a triangle, four a square, and more form automatically into circles.

So what about two?

Do you ever see two people standing with their shoulders perfectly parallel and facing each other head-on?

If you do, it’s probably because they’re about to kick off.

Otherwise, pairs of people tend to angle away from each other a bit just to avoid that aggressive squaring up.

But when a man feels intimidated, he’s much more likely to square up to the person he’s talking to, even if that person is trying to take a relaxed angle.

13) Hunching

“Sit up straight!”

-Everyone’s Mom Ever

I know you’ve been waiting for this one; that’s why I sneakily hid it at the bottom and hopefully made you learn a thing or two to get here.

Yes, poor posture.

This is a big sign of a lack of confidence, and it doesn’t look good on anyone.

And in fact, Mom was right. Good posture helps you breathe better, gives you more energy, prevents headaches, and does a whole lot more good stuff.

So your mom was really looking out for you more than you know.

Men who lack self-confidence can make these 13 body language mistakes, either subconsciously or by trying too hard. But recognizing them is a great step towards making changes that might just help their confidence as well.

If you shy away from these 7 things, you’re a naturally humble person

If you find yourself saying these 11 phrases, you might be a people-pleaser