In conversation, body language is more important than you might think. Only 7% of our communication is expressed in words. Here’s some tips to appear confident when you’re not feeling on top form. 

Keep still

The old adage that we make up our minds about someone within the first ten seconds of meeting them is untrue. It’s within one-tenth of a second. 

If you are displaying signs of nervousness on meeting someone for the first time, your words will lose all gravitas as our bodies convey our thoughts subconsciously, betraying any spoken declarations of confidence. 

Try to refrain from fiddling or any small, repetitive movements. Take slow, steady breaths and try to keep as still as possible. Your words will hold more importance and you can get your ideas heard without distracting body language.

 

Smile!

It’s a humble but effective gesture, even when you’re on your own. If smiling is the last thing you feel like doing, simply moving your facial muscles into a grin tricks your brain into releasing endorphins, dopamine and serotonin which are all neurotransmitters that help you cope with stress.

When others see you smile, a similar reaction occurs and they begin to feel more relaxed and happy in your company. And the cliché is true: it really does use fewer muscles to smile than to frown. Practice ‘smiseing’ too (smiling with your eyes), as this will help your big beaming grin look more genuine than grimacing.

 

Breathe

The reason we might suffer from anxiety attacks is due to lack of normal rhythm breathing. Our heart rate increases, our chest feels tight and we can’t seem to catch our breath properly. This is because our focus moves to and we forget to breathe.

Breathing gif

Breathing in sync with this GIF can have a similar effect as breathing into a paper bag (which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly a subtle coping mechanism). Practice breathing with the animation and eventually you’ll be able to visualise it without having to look at a screen in stressful or triggering situations. The rest of your body will relax and you will immediately appear calmer.

 

Stand proud

You may have heard of the power pose, which involves standing with your legs far apart with your hands on your hips (think Lynda Carter circa 1975). While this might help you feel balanced, the idea that it increases testosterone levels and is a myth.

Read more: What does your body language say about you?

There are more subtle poses to employ that will help create the illusion of confidence. Fake it til you make it by lowering your shoulders, breathing in for better posture and straightening up your torso to create height. Try making your gestures slightly larger and keeping your head straight rather than tilted, which implies submission.

It’s worth practicing these tricks alone or with a friend until they feel natural. 

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