A 2011 survey about how confident managers feel in their profession found that half of the female respondents reported self-doubt about their job performance. On the other hand, fewer than a third of the male respondents said the same thing.
Despite the tremendous strides women have made, this lack of female confidence is increasingly well documented. Women generally underestimate their abilities, from taking tests to going for promotions. It often holds us back from getting what we want.
The reasons behind this “confidence gap” range from upbringing to biology. One contributing factor has to do with the fact that women are taught to be people-pleasers. Because of that, we are generally less confident than men so we are more vulnerable to pressure from other people. That makes it even harder for us when we get frequent societal messages that confidence is not OK.
Sure, “high maintenance” might mean demanding and needy, but we can just as easily be labeled that because we have high standards. And the term “bitch” is used when women act like men and are more ambitious or aggressive than someone thinks we should be. How dare we not be nice and quiet?
So if you lack confidence, you come by it honestly. But, it doesn’t have to hold you back. Acting confident when you’re not can lead you to feeling confident.
So how can you appear more confident?
Here are 7 tricks to act more confident, even if you are not:
#1: Have Good Posture and Body Language
Women tend to cross their arms. When we do this, we can automatically come off as uneasy, insecure, or shy. Body language can affect how you feel about yourself.
Also, how you stand and sit can affect the clarity of your voice. To appear more confident, you want people to be able to understand what you are saying. Check out your posture in front of a mirror. Hold your head up high. Stand with your feet apart and your knees relaxed. Keep your chest out and shoulders back, whether you are sitting or standing. Relax your shoulders and arms.
At first, you might feel a little exposed or vulnerable. With time, you will get used to it and it will feel normal.
#2: Make Eye Contact
Eye contact helps you make a connection with another person. When you look down, the tone and volume of your voice drops. Lack of eye contact can make you come off as submissive and not believable. Making eye contact can help you to feel more confident.
#3: Avoid Unnecessary Apologies
Of course, there are times when you should apologize, but women often apologize when we simply have something to say or a question to ask. Instead of “Sorry to bother you,” just say, “Excuse me.”
Over-apologizing does not send a message of strength or empowerment.
#4: Don’t Minimize the Value of Your Opinion
You don’t need to add the following phrases that women commonly use: “This is just my opinion.” “I’m still working on this.” “I’m not sure.” “For what it’s worth.” “This may be way off.” “I’m just thinking out loud here.”
You don’t need to undermine yourself. Just say what you have to say without these phrases. You might feel a little uneasy at first, but soon you may begin to feel like your opinion matters and that can lead to you feeling confident.
#5: Don’t Turn a Statement into a Question
When you let your voice creep up into a question at the end of the sentence, it can make you sound unsure of yourself. It’s sounds as if you are asking for reassurance. Do you really need their approval or are you just feeling a little insecure? When you keep your tone of voice even, you sound more confident.
#6: Keep Practicing
When you are nervous about a difficult conversation or trying to change any of these habits, you might benefit from practicing. You might consider recording yourself to see how you express yourself. Then, you can analyze the recordings to see if you want to make some changes.
When you start to become more aware of what you are doing that comes off as less confident, it can help a lot. Rather than criticize yourself, just try to change what you are doing.
#7: Be Authentic
Part of being authentic is being true to yourself. It is being aware of who you are and what you want. Rather than just trying to please other people, you act in ways that align with your own values and needs. With deep self-knowledge, you are honest with yourself and understand what drives your behavior.
The tricky part about being authentic is how to navigate relationships when others want something different than we do. What happens when they point out our weaknesses? Can we admit our mistakes and faults? A “my way or the highway” attitude doesn’t work well with relationships. Being open and honest with those closest to you is part of being authentic. That isn’t easy when you are facing the possibility of rejection and abandonment. But close relationships thrive with authenticity.
When you acknowledge who you are with your strengths and weaknesses, you are accepting yourself. Authenticity keeps us moving forward despite any momentary insecurity we might feel. Not only does it help us to feel more confident, but others also see us as more self-assured.
Check out this authenticity inventory here to see where you score.
Your Next Success Steps:
If you need work on any of these areas, pick one at a time and try to be more aware of what you are doing or saying. That way, you can work on changing those habits and making these your new practices. You will appear more confident and eventually you will be feeling confident as well.
Where do you need some work on your confidence? Leave us a message below. We’d love to hear from you!.