How to Appear Confident (When You Are Not)
March 3, 2016

How to Appear Confident (When You Are Not)

by Brian de Haaff

Confidence does matter. A simple show of self-assurance will tell everyone that you know what you are doing and will get the job done. But unfortunately, confidence is fleeting. And it may very well be the one thing you are sorely lacking right now.

Everyone experiences times when their confidence takes a nosedive, and there are very different ways you can lose your mojo.

For example, imagine you just got a big promotion and your peers are now unexpectedly reporting to you. You feel awkward and unsure in your new role, worried you will be revealed as an unqualified phony. What if your co-workers no longer like you and think you are undeserving? The more you stew about it, the more you believe it — and then your confidence exits stage right.

Whatever kind of situation you are facing, you hope the insecurity is temporary. But you do not want to mess up the opportunity that you have been given — and you cannot afford to wait until your confidence decides to show back up.

You need some swagger right now to tackle the days ahead and remain in control.

So, instead of worrying about how you will come across — you can get busy even when that might feel like the worst thing to do. Here are seven great ways to act like you have bravado even if you are about-to-fail-a-test nervous on the inside:

Remember your strengths

Remind yourself of the reasons you are the best person to take on the job, or recall a time when you successfully navigated a difficult problem in the past. Look at how far you have come, not how far you still have to go.

Recognize damaging thoughts

Negative self-talk can wreak havoc with anyone’s self-esteem. So if you are telling yourself that you are not worthy and you should just give up, go easy on yourself. Swap out the negative thinking with some positive affirmations.

Watch your body language

Your body will naturally react in defense when you feel insecure, and others will notice. Counteract this tendency — stand tall, put your shoulders back, and make eye contact. This will help you relax and show others you have it handled.

Bring your best

Look ahead at your schedule so you are not living moment to moment. Get organized, then prepare what you want to say and present to others. Research issues in advance so you can be fully informed during discussions.

Participate in discussions

Even if you are feeling shy, do not shut down and stay silent, trying to disappear. Be fully engaged — nod in understanding and keep up with the conversation. Listen well, then make a few thoughtful contributions that advance the dialogue.

Keep your perspective

Your imagination can run wild when you face the unknown. Bring your fears back down to size. Ask, what is making me less confident right now? If I fail, what is the worst that can happen? Remember: Today’s mistakes will likely be forgotten tomorrow.

Channel someone you admire

Think of a confident person that you respect, perhaps a mentor or a friend. Then consider how they would handle this situation and what they would say. Would they back down from this challenge or hide their head under the covers?

Do not let a lack of confidence hold you back from what you want to achieve. In fact, it is when you are most afraid that you must show up and face your problem head-on. Pushing on through the fear will help bring back that lost mojo.

And remember that practice does improve performance. While you are acting like a confident person, you will be gaining experience and laying the groundwork for more confidence to develop.

Soon you will look back and smile — because the challenges you faced will be dwarfed by what you are capable of and the confidence you have built.

What do you do when your confidence goes on vacation?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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