23 Jan, 2020
Mike Carter’s top tips for self-confidence
Prepare your posture: Posture is really important. There’s a lot being said about power poses at the moment, but I don’t necessarily think these are that useful, as they can sometimes be a bit intimating and make you come across as arrogant rather than confident. When we get it right – with our shoulders relaxed and our heads tilted back a little bit – it shows that you’re comfortable in the situation and self-assured. My advice is to use posture to your advantage before an important meeting or appointment, as well as during it. So, rather than sitting crouched over your phone or slouched in a chair in the moments before the event, put your phone away, sit straight-backed or stand comfortably. That will make you feel more confident when the big moment comes.
Try diaphragmatic breathing: This essentially refers to deep breathing – and inhaling right from your belly. We all know this can have a big impact on how we feel, because it’s common to tell people to ‘take a deep breath’ if they’re feeling anxious or nervous. To give you a confidence boost, ensure that you’re breathing deeply, regularly and rhythmically from your belly. This does several things – it makes us feel more confident, it makes us sound more confident (because our voices are relaxed) and it makes other people feel more comfortable around us, because we sound secure and reassuring.
Keep your hands in view: When we hide our hands we lose our credibility. If you’re tucking your hands into your sleeve, putting them in your pockets, sitting on them or folding your arms, you don’t look comfortable. Keep your hands open and in sight at all times.
Don’t lift your heels off the floor: In situations where you need to come across as confident, keep your feet firmly on the floor. This allows you to feel physically and metaphorically grounded and helps project an image of stability.
Loosen your jaw: A lot of us hold tension in our jaw and our neck, and when we relax this part of the body, we release stress. This helps us to feel more relaxed and comfortable, and therefore allows us to come across as more confident.
Maintain eye contact when listening: The important thing to remember with eye contact is that it’s a cultural thing – it means different things in different areas of the world. In most parts of the western world, the rule is this: when you’re speaking you can break eye contact as often as you like, but when you’re listening you need to maintain it all the time. If you do break eye contact when you’re listening to someone talk, it might suggest that you’re uncomfortable, bored or dismissive.
Don’t consciously echo someone’s body language: It’s well known that when we’re feeling comfortable with someone we naturally echo their movements and people often ask me whether you should you try to do this in different situations. I always say no – don’t force it, because it will look unnatural. If you get all the other aspects right, you’ll do it without even thinking about it.
Don’t obsess over your body language: Your body language can be a really good tool to use in all aspects of your life, but don’t obsess over it as you’ll come across as being slightly strange and it will look unnatural. My advice is to try to focus on one thing at a time – that way the other aspects will start to come naturally to you.