How to Be More Confident

Self-confidence is one quality which shines through in practically every sphere of life, whether at the workplace, at a party with friends or out on a date with a special person. In almost any kind of relationship - personal, social or professional relationships – confidence gives you a winning edge which is why lack of it can lead to many missed opportunities and far less that what you really deserve. Here are a few ways to gain greater confidence so that you can go out there and wow the world.

Begin with the basics

While appearances are a superficial way of evaluating a person, this is unfortunately a reality in a society which lays great store by looks. Thus one of the first things an interviewer, boss or a date will notice on meeting you is your appearance. If you are slovenly dressed or looking untidy and unkempt, she is bound to pass a critical eye over you. This will make you feel inferior subconsciously and automatically translate into outward nervousness. So, if you wish to appear confident, make sure that you are neatly dressed and in accordance with the occasion. Take care to be well-groomed since nothing destroys an impression as quickly as unkempt hair, nails, beards and body odor. If on the other hand, you smartly turned out, half the battle is won and you can take care of other aspects of your personality without worrying how you are looking.

Project positive body language

One of the easiest ways a person’s nervousness is apparent is through certain aspects of his body language. Slouching, shaking a leg continuously, drumming fingers on the table and touching the ear, nose or hair repeatedly are all signs of nervousness. Instead adopt a straight but relaxed posture for an air of confidence. Keep your hands on the table or comfortably on your sides. Make sure your gestures and mannerisms are easy and natural but don’t dwell too much on your actions. If you do find yourself getting obsessive or erratic with your gestures, breathe in deeply and play down your mannerisms. A truly confident person remains collected on the outside which is a reflection of the calm self-assurance within.

Practice anchoring

Anchoring can be one of the most powerful weapons in anybody’s confidence armory. At its simplest, this refers to a way of thinking in which you draw on past experiences in which you felt confident to help you cope better in the present. Anchoring is an instance of neuro-linguistic programming technique or NLP. An anchor is any stimulus that consistently triggers an emotion. Sportsmen and women use anchors continually. For example, tennis players bounce the ball repeatedly before
serving to calm themselves.

The first step in anchoring is to generate in yourself the particular set of feelings you wish to recreate or more simply 'installing the anchor'. Begin by working on your anchor a few weeks before an important event like a job interview or a date in which you wish to remain calm but fear you could get nervous. Get into the relaxed state and recall a time when you felt really calm and confident. Relive it in as much detail as possible. If you can't think of a suitable time, just pretending to be confident will also do the trick. When the positive feelings are coming on strong, use a gesture like putting your thumb and fingers together or clenching your fist and steadily say to yourself, 'Cool, calm and confident'. The stronger the feeling, the more successful will be your anchor. The aim is to create a neurological link between that stimulus and emotion so that the two are associated with each other and when desired, one can be used to recall the other.

Eventually with enough practice your subconscious is programmed to associate those feelings with specific words and gestures. Thus every time you make this gesture and repeat these words, these same calm, confident feelings will return. In fact, you can install an anchor when you experience a positive emotion even as you go about your activities. This is effectively what athletes do when they raise their hands above their heads as they break the winning tape. If they were to do this repeatedly they would find that simply raising their hands above their heads would trigger those winning feelings.
The second and final stage of anchoring is firing the anchor. Just before the actual event you were rehearsing for - and if necessary during it - take a deep breath, practice your chosen gesture and repeat your particular inspiring phrase silently or aloud. Make sure that you say it with conviction and sincerity and you will feel the positive emotions flowing through you and consequently building up your confidence. In this way you can use positive words and gestures to trigger the desired feelings when required and face the world with confidence.

Avoid substance abuse

Popular culture is rife with images of self-assured men puffing away at a cigarette or swigging neat whiskeys, all the while presenting an air of cool confidence. On the contrary cigarette smoke can act as a stimulant in real life. So if you smoke before you are meeting a girl, you might start displaying signs like flushed face, increased blood pressure, dry mouth and constricted pupils which are all associated with heightened nervousness. Worse still, if you are a regular smoker, the ebbing nicotine in your bloodstream may lead to minor  withdrawal symptoms like trembling of fingers. While a single cup of coffee is alright if you want to be alert, consuming an entire pot is likely to make you highly strung up. Likewise too much alcohol can lead you to lose focus so that instead of remembering to appear confident, you will begin to display behavior that is out-of-control.

The important thing to remember is that these confidence-building techniques will not be effective in just a day. The more you practice them, the easier it will be to use them when required. In fact it may take days and even months before you can feel confident without trying or even thinking about it.