When we talk to somebody we send all sorts of clues about who we are and how we value ourselves.
Confident people have certain key things they always do in conversations that show their high self-worth.
Here’s how to inject high-octane confidence into every interaction you have.
1) Look people in the eye
Conversations may be made of words, but the nonverbal aspect is equally if not more important.
Confident people look folks in the eye when speaking to them or being spoken to.
They don’t blink too much, fidget, turn away or act shifty.
They talk it out directly and meet someone’s gaze, even if the conversation is tense or undesirable.
2) Speak with conviction
Confident people speak with conviction.
They say what they mean, and mean what they say.
This comes down to a variety of factors:
- Speaking loud enough to be clearly heard
- Standing in close enough proximity to be heard or using a decent mic
- Speaking in a tone that conveys true belief and dedication
- Speaking in a way that shows you believe in yourself and your values, judgments and goals.
This ties into the next point…
3) Eliminate qualifiers
Qualifiers are all those unnecessary words that take away power and clarity from what you’re saying.
Qualifiers are sometimes necessary, but they’re often not.
When you overuse them you place doubt around whatever you’re saying.
Examples include words such as:
- “I guess”
- “Sort of”
- “Kind of”
The less qualifiers you have the more powerful and confident you will be in your speech.
4) Ensure enunciation
The way that you speak is just as important as what you say, in addition to body language which I mentioned earlier.
Enunciation is the opposite of mumbling.
This means fully pronouncing the vowels and consonants in terms of what you’re saying.
Practice speaking in front of a mirror and speaking more slowly.
Move your lips with the words and fully speak each word.
When brought out into regular life this enunciation ability will be a huge upgrade.
This will make you stand out and come across as much more intelligent, competent and confident in every conversation you have.
5) Emphasize keywords
Watch any highly confident speaker from a religious leader to a popular politician to even your most popular friend or colleague.
You’ll notice that they all have a habit of emphasizing keywords when they speak.
They can make the word “opportunity” sound like a golden utopia of promise just by drawing it out and relishing its sound. A sexy singer can say or sing the word “intense” in such a seductive way that people in the audience get physically turned on.
Keywords aren’t just for internet search algorithms. They’re for speaking.
Confident people know that to make their words hit home they need to choose which to emphasize.
6) Express yourself directly
Insecure or less confident people use a lot of qualifiers and tend to be indirect.
They dread conflict and disagreement and they often use weasel words like “maybe” or “I guess.”
They may say “Uh huh” or “I dunno” when they are expressing a point of view or observation about something, for example.
Confident folks are the opposite.
They express what they want to say directly.
Say two people dislike Dallas, Texas.
The first one, who’s not confident: “Dallas is, I dunno. It’s not my favorite place, I guess. You know?”
Full of qualifiers. Hesitant. Seeking validation at the end.
The second one who is confident: “I don’t like Dallas.”
Simple. Direct. Confident!
7) Clarify confusion
Confident people are willing to clarify what they mean if somebody doesn’t understand.
However, unlike those who are less confident, they won’t apologize or mosey around what they’ve said in a hesitant or embarrassed way.
Say, for example, that a confident person has said that his new business is causing him a lot of stress right now.
“What do you mean?” a friend asks.
“The industry is going through upheaval, so I’m having to rebuild the whole business model,” the confident person explains.
By contrast, a less confident person might answer more in the following way.
“It’s just that… I dunno…there are so many things. I dunno, f*ck. It’s a lot, you know?”
That literally could mean anything, and it doesn’t clarify much. Confidence is all about speaking as directly as possible.
8) Stand up for your interests
Confident people never sell themselves short.
For years I realized that I was sabotaging myself in conversations by using too many qualifiers and verbally weakening my own positions.
In other words I would add “maybes” “ifs” and “I guess” around things I wanted or needed.
“I guess if you have time, maybe you could tell me more about that job you mentioned?”
By contrast, a confident person would say:
“What about that job? Any updates?”
Stand up for yourself. If you’re interested in a job somebody mentioned don’t be afraid to ask straight up!
9) Be open about disagreement
There are times in many conversations when small or big disagreements arise.
I’m not going to say this is pleasant or no big deal.
Disagreements can be stressful and upsetting.
But pretending to agree or dodging disagreement is even more exasperating. It’s also inauthentic and often leaves you feeling a hollow sense of self-betrayal.
Confident people are open about disagreeing.
They aren’t confrontational, since there’s no point in that. But they will admit they see things differently if and when it comes up.
And if there’s a disagreement that needs to be resolved such as on the price of an item, a confident person will hold the line and will not back down to pressure or manipulation.
10) Set their limits
If you’ve ever been in a meeting or large group where everybody is talking across each other then you know how frustrating it can be.
One of the key markers of conversational confidence comes when one individual puts up their hand or says a single word and everyone suddenly goes quiet.
Typically, this would be the boss, the parents, the tour guide or so on: the person in a position of authority.
But the confident conversationalist can be anybody in a group.
Often it’s the person who’s got the larger objective in mind rather than just being caught up in the moment.
For example if a group is touring Istanbul and starts getting confused about where to go or talking about all sorts of different subjects, one person puts her hand up and says:
“The blue mosque is 10 blocks that way. Let’s go.”
11) Set the pace
The last of the things that confident conversationalists do is set the pace.
If people are talking too fast or being unclear, they slow things down.
They will not allow themselves to be pressured into talking or conversing a certain way just because everybody else is.
A typical example would be when a salesperson approaches somebody in a store and begins rattling off all sorts of promotions and possible purchases.
The less confident individual could easily be caught up in it or indicate interest in one of the items just to get the barrage of words to stop.
The confident individual, by contrast, will take a deep breath and say “one moment” or even physically walk away from the persistent salesperson holding up a hand.
Confident people set the pace, they do not allow themselves to be conversationally corralled.
The key to conversational confidence
The key to conversational confidence is a sense of inner calm and security that comes through your words.
When you feel secure in yourself, then you speak in a way that stands up for your beliefs and interests while also hearing what somebody else says without overreacting.
The key to conversational confidence is paying attention to what’s said while not getting lost in the intentions and goals of the other and still keeping in mind your priorities and what you are seeking through an interaction.
Using the tips above you can increase your conversational confidence day by day and become more effective in your professional life and more empathetic and successful in your personal life.