How To Express Confident Body Language

By: Julia Thomas

Updated November 23, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Merlena James Leger, LPC

Looking to improve your self-esteem and how you present yourself? Try online therapy today and see changes in school, work, relationships, and life. Confidence in body language can change the way people perceive you, and help you succeed in life. What is body language, and how does it compare to body language that doesn’t show being confident? Becoming fluent in this kind of body language can help you read others better and have more control over the image of yourself with confidence that want to present.

confident physical expressionSource: rawpixel.com

Body Language And Having Confidence

What Is Body Language?

Body language is another means of language and if used correctly, can make you appear more confident. You can appear confident nonverbally with others through:

  • Body movements
  • Postures
  • Hand gestures
  • Tone of voice
  • Volume of voice
  • Facial expressions
  • Micro-expressions

You may consciously choose to use a particular type of body language to show being confident, or you may do it and appear confident without even being aware of it.

The Value Of Being Confident

From the earliest prehistoric times right up to today, showing being confident has always had many benefits. Early humans gained power and secured their survival through being confident with others in their clans. Today, those who show being confident are more apt to do well in job interviews and secure the positions they want in their company.

When you show that you feel confident, you inspire others to trust you. Your being confident makes you a leader that people are likely to follow and admire.

Studies on the facial feedback hypothesis have shown that, when we smile, we tend to feel happier. The same may be true of body language that conveys being confident. That is, when we move our body and speak in ways that express our being confident, we may indeed feel more confident as well.
Is It Ever Okay to Show a Lack Of Confidence?
There may be times when it’s okay to not be confident, but it’s important to be sure that you’re in one of those situations before you express not being confident. For example, if you need to learn something from someone else, being too confident may keep the person talking to you from explaining as thoroughly as you would like.

Another time to avoid showing that you're confident is when you want to show empathy to someone else. You can’t know with certainty what they’re going through. Even if you could, the point of empathy is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You can’t do that if you’re completely focused on what great shoes you’re wearing!

How to Utilize Body Language

The quickest way to use body language to convey that you're confident is to learn a few tricks and put them into practice simply. Here are some examples of how you can express being confident through your body language, your voice, and your attitude.
 
Remember Past Successes

You may have heard the suggestion, “Don’t dwell on the past.” However, there are times when dwelling on positive memories can impact your life in the present moment. When you know you need to show being confident, spend a few moments thinking of past successes. Remember the situations where your displays of personal power had positive outcomes.

Smile

You can only change one thing about your body language, work on your smile. When you smile at someone, they tend to remember you more clearly. They feel more open to what you have to say. This form of body language helps you to appear more trustworthy as well, and people find you more approachable. What’s more, when you smile at someone, they nearly always smile back, so you create a positive exchange on both sides.

Give a Good Handshake

Body language like a firm but not overpowering handshake shows strength and being confident. It shows that you are confident of both yourself and the person whose hand you shake. Though too tight of a handshake can make people feel intimidated or bullied, shaking hands comfortably and confidently helps them feel less threatened and more willing to engage with you.

Support Your Body Through Good Posture

When your body is well supported, you don’t just look more powerful. You are stronger. This physical strength translates into a sharp and confident mindset that will carry you through difficult negotiations or stressful confrontations. So, stand up straight with your hips and shoulders aligned and your head up.

Take Up Space

People who aren’t confident tend to make themselves appear smaller by the way they hold their body. If you want to exude being confident, allow yourself to take up as much space as you need to feel uncrowded and unafraid.

Widen Your Stance

Stand with your feet apart, your knees relaxed, and your weight centered in the lower part of your body to show you're confident.

Speak In a Lower Pitch
 
Speaking in a lower pitch makes you seem more reliable and stronger. By lowering the pitch of your voice, you not only make it easier for others to hear your words, but you also increase your authority.
 
Nodding and Mirroring

Stay engaged with the person you’re talking to when you want to show you’re confident in conversation. Nod when they say something you agree with as well as when you understand what they’re saying. Mirror their expressions, too, to show that you’re staying with their story and interested in what they have to say.

Position Yourself to Boost Testosterone

Certain power positions can increase your testosterone, according to research from Harvard and Columbia Business Schools. By upping your testosterone level, you feel more powerful and self-confident. These positions also decrease your cortisol, helping you avoid nervousness and appear more cofeident. You only have to be in a power pose for 1 to 2 minutes to change the course of the entire interaction. One power pose is leaning back in your chair and putting your feet on the desk. Another is to stand with your arms and legs stretched wide apart.

Keep the Right Level of Eye Contact

confidence - man and woman smiling at each otherSource: rawpixel.com

Maintaining the right level of eye contact isn’t easy, but it’s well worth the effort. Stare into someone’s eyes too long, and they feel bullied, intimidated, and discounted. Failing to make eye contact makes you seem untrustworthy or timid.

The right amount of eye contact is 50% to 60% of conversation time by the standards of U.S., European, and Australian businesspeople. Try this trick: look into the other person’s eyes just long enough to see what color their eyes are.

Body Language: Use Hand Gestures

Hand gestures can help you get across the information you want to share t. They can also impart an attitude of being confident and having personal power. Beyond that, they can improve your cognitive abilities and verbal expressions.

Make a Steeple

It may be hard to understand why, but for some reason, people respond well when you steeple your hands. Simply hold your fingers together with your palms separated. You show your sincerity and commitment with this confident and easy-to-do body language.

Open Your Arms and Show Your Palms

One thing you don’t usually want when you’re trying to show that you're confident is to appear as someone who’s hiding something. You can avoid giving this body language impression by opening your arms wide and showing the palms of your hands.

Examples

Some examples of unconfident body language:

Don’t Slouch
 
Avoid slouching at all costs. Whether you’re standing or sitting, your upright posture shows you’re alert, engaged, and ready to take care of business.
 
Don’t Fidget
 
Fidgeting makes you appear nervous. Avoid shaking your foot, biting your nails, twirling your hair, and touching your face or neck.
 
Don’t Disengage

Sometimes, people mistakenly assume that they’ll appear more confident if they remain aloof. The truth is that you’ll have a hard time winning someone over if you fail to engage with them through open gestures, nodding, mirroring, or other engaged body language techniques.

Don’t Look Down

If you’re keeping eye contact 60% of the time or less, where are you supposed to look the rest of the time? Whatever you do, don’t look down. That makes you look unconfident and even embarrassed. Instead, try looking to the side.

Avoid the Limp, Dead-Fish Handshake
 
Practice your handshake until you can grip firmly but not too powerfully. A loose, limp handshake makes you appear weak and uninterested.
 
Be Careful How You Cross Your Legs

If you can, keep your feet planted on the floor to show that you're confident. You can cross your legs at the knee as long as you don’t also cross your arms. However, crossing your legs at the ankles causes you to look like you’re holding something back. Crossing your legs away from the other person may make them think you don’t like them or feel uncomfortable talking to them.

Avoid Using Closed Gestures

Don’t cross your arms across your chest. This is one of the most well-known examples of negative body language. So, you’ll not only show your defensiveness and disengagement directly, but those who know anything about body language will immediately recognize that you aren’t fluent in it.

Moving Beyond Appearances

Now that you know what confident feeling body language looks like, you can replicate it to display being confident. You can also recognize when others are showing or not showing confidence. Yet, this is just a stopgap measure if you are not confident. Practicing intentional body language may help you have more confidence. Another way is to improve confidence more directly.

What Does It Take to Improve Your Self-Confidence?

man drinking coffee looking at computer confidenceSource: rawpixel.com

For some people, all it takes to improve confidence is to spend some time thinking of their successes and positive attributes. Some can develop their self-assurance by honing their skills until they gain more respect for themselves. Others who have been taught that they are worthless or inferior usually have trouble making this change on their own.

Through therapy, you can increase your self-esteem by examining the negative thoughts that hold you back and replacing those thoughts with more positive but also true ideas. If you’ve tried to improve confidence but haven’t been able to manage it on your own, you may benefit from talking to a therapist.

Unpacking Body Language With BetterHelp

Studies show that online therapy is a useful method of helping those experiencing confidence issues, along with several other mental health concerns. A study published in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy noted that internet-based treatment plans are effective in addressing several problems often related to communication. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly used tools for managing social anxiety, which can involve a lack of confidence in communicating properly. Treatment focuses on changing thought patterns so that certain emotions associated with social situations (including self-doubt or body image issues)can be reduced or eliminated.

As discussed above, online therapy can help you present the best version of yourself. With BetterHelp, you can work on your body language from the comfort of your own home, without having to commute between a therapist’s office. You’ll have the opportunity to communicate with your counselor outside of sessions, as well, so that you can take note of any body language issues as they arise. Therapists frequently check messages and will get back to you with recommendations as soon as possible. Your therapist can help you converse with others more efficiently and confidently. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp’s licensed professionals, from people experiencing similar communication issues.

Counselor Reviews

 
“Angie is amazing! Communications with her are like chatting with a friend but with all of the ninja skills to help you work through this stuff mentally and emotionally. I enjoy the dialogue and her ability to dig into me deeper which helps me to keep the circle focused on me.”

betterhelp online therapy review angie dewaard

“Great listener and very kind. Kylee helped me through the most difficult time and I highly praise her way of communication. Her patience and solution-based approach are exactly what I needed. I am in a much better place thanks to her support and effort from my side.”

betterhelp online therapy review kylee nelson

Conclusion And Final Thoughts

As you work through your feelings of being confident versus unconfident, you can change the way you see yourself and the world. You’ll also find that as you gain inner strength, your body language will change to be more confident even when you aren’t aware of it. You’ll not only feel more self-confident, but you’ll show it even when you aren’t aware of it!


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