We’ve all heard it – confidence is key – if you want to be successful in any aspect of your life you need it. Having confidence in yourself directly impacts how everyone looks at you, and if you look like you believe in yourself people will inherently believe in you too. Of course there is such a thing as the wrong kind of confidence; there is narcissism which is a destructive, negative form of self-esteem. This is becoming increasingly common in our generation and is detrimental to success, you can see effects of that here. Now, true confidence is what you want to show off; your fantastic colours. So often we think that we aren’t unique, capable, or good enough for something in our lives, and that’s just BS.
Why is it so important?
To be frank if you walk and talk like a loser you’ll be perceived as one, and no one wants that. It’s not a nice way to say it but, unfortunately, if you walk around with your head down and shoulders hunched no one is going to give you a second glance. When you want to be noticed, be it socially, romantically, or professionally you need to look and sound confident.
Obviously, being confident helps you in the romance department - potential romantic partners will only see your greatness and potential if you show it off and believe in it yourself. But, what about the importance of confidence professionally?
A study was done outlining the effects of exhibiting some basic confidence-building techniques. What was discovered is pretty cool; in mock interviews students were divided into groups and one of these groups was instructed to show body language and vocal patterns that are attributed to confidence. The interviewers believed the students who displayed the confident body language to be more qualified, capable, and even more intelligent than their peers who were not given the instruction. Now that’s something that makes me want to be the most confident (not arrogant) person in the room!
If you don’t have it, make it.
So, you don’t feel like you have confidence? Well, there are a lot of little things you can do every day to help build your self-esteem.
1. Power poses - It sounds silly but this helps build your confidence; by putting your body in a powerful position for a few minutes every day you will send signals to your brain that will raise your self-esteem by reducing cortisol (a stress hormone). Two of my favorite power positions are full victory (feet shoulder width apart, arms stretched high above your head, chin up – like you just won a gold medal) and strong stance (chin up, hands on the hips and feet shoulder width apart). Just stand like that for a minute every day.
2. Stop negative self-talk – This is shutting down the negative voice telling you that you’re not _____ enough. It’s not always easy to recognize this as it’s happening, but start paying attention to the things you say and think to yourself, about yourself. Once you catch one of these thoughts, crush it. That’s all. Just say to yourself that it is not true and that’s one less negative thought you have about yourself. As you learn to do this you’ll think more positively about your abilities and raise your self-esteem.
3. Small goals – Set small goals for yourself, nothing major like getting that raise. Just little goals - like eating a healthy breakfast, going for a walk on your lunch break, or waking up 15 minutes earlier. Achieving these little goals will help you believe in yourself more and raise your confidence. Consequently, over time you’ll also more easily achieve your bigger goals.
It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it!
I’m not just talking about your tone and inflections (although those are incredibly important) I’m also talking about what your body is saying. Most communication is nonverbal, so as much as you’ve rehearsed what you’re going to say have you thought about how you are going to say it?
First let’s look at inflections, most of your speech habits can easily be undone as they are less a result of upbringing and more a result of social trends. One thing I want you to be sure to cut out of your habits is uptalk. What is uptalk? Think Clueless, Alicia Silverstone had all of us using uptalk for a while. This is when you raise your voice at the end of a statement, the same as you would with a question. The issue is this doesn’t make you sound trustworthy, if you are making a statement it should be exactly that, a statement. I wouldn’t introduce myself like this: My name is Stephanie? Hearing it in my own head is atrocious enough, if someone shook my hand and questioned their own name I’d have a lot of trouble believing anything else they had to say.
Confident people know their own name, and are sure of what they have to say. When they make a statement their voices lower at the end. That’s all you have to do to sound more confident - that’s it, bring your voice down at the end of a sentence. That is the way that powerful people speak.
Now, let’s get into body language - what you can do not only to appear more confident but also be more confident. This is the easy part if you just pay attention to yourself; being fully aware of your posture and the space you take up is crucial. A few of the things those students (in the study mentioned above) did were simple yet highly effective. They include; rolling your shoulders back so your posture is strong, raising your head slightly, making direct eye contact, smiling, and taking up a little extra space. Taking up extra space was the most interesting to me because, like many of you, I’m afraid of appearing rude. To clarify, "taking up space" was not sprawling across a table, it was, once again, little things. These little things include; putting your hands on your hips with shoulders back, sitting wide (not to be confused with "spreading all over the subway"), and using hand gestures. Confident people feel deserving of the space they’re in and are not afraid to use it. So, use the space you have, be bigger and stronger, and people will take notice.
Confidence is always a work in progress, but having it and building it will allow you to show off how amazing you are. Some days we just want to roll ourselves up into a blanket burrito and watch Netflix for hours until it starts judging us, but that doesn’t mean you’re not capable of being great tomorrow. Don’t let small setbacks (or big ones!) stop you - tomorrow is a new day to be your awesome self and a little confidence will really show you off!
Makeup and Fashion Guru
Stephanie is a former (and possibly, once again soon to be) McMaster student standing in the middle of a major life crossroads. With work experience ranging from skilled trades to business administration she has a plethora of knowledge. If you're looking for her she's probably the girl petting your dog while wearing shoes most would call unreasonable.