10 Tips for Conveying Confidence – Fake It Till You Make It

June 8th, 2016


By Michael Solomon, 10x Management Co-Founder

When you want to succeed, conveying confidence is key. This is true if you are trying to land a dream job or a great freelance contract, meet that new girl or guy, or just about anything else that involves making a good impression on another human being.

It is not enough to be good; you also have to seem good. This all comes down to conveying confidence (for more on this and how to manage 10x-level talent, check out our upcoming book, Game Changer).

For some, this comes naturally. For the rest of us, we need a good old life hack to help get us there. The old adage of fake it until you make it works perfectly. The problem is it sounds like a whole lot of BS. Just pretend to be confident even if I’m not. If it were that easy, everyone would do it. I didn’t buy it myself until an old friend convinced me otherwise.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk makes it clear that non-verbal communication (aka body language) makes a huge difference both in how people perceive our confidence and within our own performance. To arrive at this conclusion, she and her team conducted a study to see how people performed in job interviews with and without the addition of one simple thing: Striking a “power pose” before the interview.


Amy Cuddy demonstrates the power pose

Participants that did the power pose before the interviews came through with vastly increased ratings on passion, enthusiasm, authenticity, comfort and confidence compared with the control group. The only difference between the two groups was two minutes immediately prior to the interview in which one group struck the power pose (hands on hips, feet on floor, arms up in a V, to help you remember think of the Superman or Wonder Woman pose). Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions.

Here are 10 more ways we tell our 10x Management freelance contractors to convey confidence when working with customers ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies:

  1. Slow your breathing – Studies have shown that when you slow your breathing, you slow your heart rate. And a slower heart rate makes one feel more centered and relaxed.
  2. Make eye contact – This goes without saying. People who can hold eye contact calmly convey greater confidence than those who don’t. Notice the word “calmly.” If you fidget and get nervous with prolonged eye contact, you’ll have to work on it.
  3. Admit mistakes – Everyone makes mistakes. Strong and confident people own their mistakes. Fearful people cover them up. The sooner you admit a mistake and provide a plan to correct it, the more confidence you’ll convey, and the more confidence people will have in you.
  4. Speak your truth – Respectful disagreement and debate is the cornerstone of successful collaboration. Unless you’re a barista at Starbucks, you probably weren’t hired to do a task — you were hired for your insights and contributions, including your contrarian position.
  5. Own your flaws – Have you ever noticed that antique dealers often point out scratches and flaws in old pieces of furniture? This isn’t just honest — it’s strategic. If they are transparent about the flaws, you are more likely to trust them. And the same goes for you. If you confidently own your limitations and shortcomings, you are more likely to be trusted on your strengths.
  6. Loosen your jaw and shoulders – It sounds simplistic, but it works. If you consciously loosen your jaw, neck, and shoulders, you will feel your anxiety decrease and your confidence go up. Physiologically, our emotions respond to changes in our physical state just as much as our physical state responds to our emotions. It’s not a one way street.
  7. Don’t fidget – Tap, tap, tap. Swivel, swivel. Bounce, bounce. All those unconscious nervous habits you have–tapping on the table, swiveling in your chair, bouncing your foot under the desk–are dead giveaways for nervousness. They also amplify your anxiety. Refer to #1 and #6. Check your breathing and loosen your body, and feel better in seconds.
  8. Smile and mean it – The act of smiling is proven to make us happier. So, why not do it more often? If you smile in meetings, people will think you are either kind, excited, empowered, or all of the above. Unless of course you’re at a funeral — then they will just think you’re a sociopath.
  9. Write short emails – Oscar Wilde famously said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” It’s also the hallmark of honesty and confidence. If you’re unsure of what you’re saying, you are more likely to ramble. But if you feel 100% certain about something, you’ll be able to make your case in as few words as possible.
  10. Actively listen and convey empathy – Confident people listen and demonstrate comprehension. Nervous people tune out and plan what they’re going to say next.

There you have it, 10 simple ways to convey (and build) your confidence. And if all else fails, stand on top of your desk and strike a power pose. Just don’t let your boss see you!

If you like this article please recommend and/or share it. I appreciate your comments and feedback.

You might also enjoy reading, The Business Case For Being Really, Super Happy.