Let’s face it, many of us are introverts. Many of us find people who are overly confident as imposing. But the moment we enter a room, people are immediately forming an impression. They’re making snap judgments and perceptions based on how we carry ourselves and how we interact with others. This applies to everyone in any situation from welcoming clients, family functions to networking events, staff meetings, initial consultations, or greeting pet owners at reception. It also occurs internally when you start a new job or enter the business for each shift or team meeting.
Regardless of the situation, people are less inclined to give you attention and respect if you appear uncomfortable or insecure. Within seconds your lack of confidence will discredit your presence and any information you’re about to deliver. No one needs that… what we do is hard enough without adding to it. But it’s a truth.
Body language is an integral part of communication and the way you present yourself is more paramount to a successful outcome than you likely realise.
Here are three tips to appear confident.
Inside Out/Outside In:
Some people think you can earn respect by presenting yourself as physically confident. Some people think confidence comes from within. In my experience, both work.
On days when I want to impress, I put on my nicest underwear, smartest outfits and shine my shoes. All actors talk about how they create their characters. Even if you aren’t naturally confident, if you dress the part it will influence your capacity to deliver.
Inside we are all a little bit shy, it’s normal as a social species to be apprehensive in this way. “Will this person/tribe accept me?” is a basic social query. At a reptilian level, the fear is that if they don’t accept me there will be conflict or worse…death. It takes our higher brain to reassure us that approaching strangers or people who we are not close to will not have adverse effects on our basic safety and security.
It seems ridiculous that sometimes we have to talk to ourselves this way, but if we dig underneath our fears – what we usually find is a juvenile belief about security that has been ignored. So reach deep, soothe quickly by reminding yourself that you have a lot to offer and people want to know what that is. You are special and important. Even if you aren’t Einstein or Hussein Bolt you have something to contribute, you might just need to grow into yourself.
Everyone else wants confidence too:
Inside we are all a little bit shy. And the other people we meet usually want to impress and be accepted too. Knowing this can help reduce any anxiety or challenges we have trying to reach them. Suddenly, people in the room aren’t intimidating enemies you have to get through to. They are willing participants in the game of social cooperation. And that’s a beautiful idea that opens up possibilities in communication. I try to remember that, especially when someone is defensive. There is always a way to connect. You just have to find it.
Eye contact is everything:
If communication is about conveying messages that facilitate understanding of ideas, then eye contact is a key to that process. There’s a lot of good science around the neural processing that takes place through our optic system. When we look into another person’s eyes we experience limbic resonance. This is described by the researchers who first wrote about it as “a symphony of mutual and internal adaptation whereby two mammals become attuned to each other’s inner states.” And “the door to communal connection.” The practical implication of this information is that by learning to monitor our own emotions and sense emotional changes in other people, it becomes possible to recognize what people are feeling; and, by learning to navigate and manage our own emotions, we influence the emotions of others. It’s the key to using info in my first two points. When you look confident and project confidence it can be infectious and effective at navigating positive outcome.
If you’d like coaching and guidance about achieving these tips in any situation, VetPrac can help. We have many workshops facilitated by respected veterinarians to help you advance your skills beyond the technical expertise.