What is confidence?
I honestly cannot tell you…So blog over. No only kidding!
But it’s true I cannot tell you because confidence is different for each person. How you understand confidence may well be different from me, or the next person, although I suspect there will still be similarities in certain things. Confidence is the act of appearing in control, strong and self-assured. A confident person appears unafraid and possibly unaffected by their situation and surroundings. There is an important word in that sentence – “appears”.
As a trainer I often train people in the appearance of confidence – how to look like they are in control and unfazed by the 20 faces staring at them waiting for a revelation or answer. I can teach someone the art of strong body language and assertive tone but surely there is more to confidence than just the appearance? What about the idea that some feels confident? It can be argued that the appearance and the feeling of confidence are two entirely different things.
If you stand upright, shoulders back, hands in front of you in an open easy gesture you will look strong (ok, this is providing you aren’t making “deer in headlights face”). People looking at you will make judgments based on what they see. If they see you looking completely in control with fluid movement and no physical tension then it is fair to assume that they will believe you to be feeling relaxed and confident…But does that mean that you will be?
Social psychologist Amy Chuddy (a leading body language expert) would argue that yes, over time if you practice these strong body language positions you will be because your physical expression is linked to internal thinking. Check out her excellent TED talk on the subject: http://bit.ly/Ybn0jl
When we feel the cold we hunch up making ourselves smaller – trying to protect ourselves from the cold. This position makes us look vulnerable and indeed we are feeling vulnerable because we are in this tight and protective posture. In contrast if you look at someone who has just won the Olympics their postures are huge – punching the air, wide arms embracing the applause and relaxed muscles in relief. They look happy, strong and like a “winner”. These postures are empowered through our situations – our perceptions.
So next time you feel your confidence flagging before a meeting or event, try taking two minutes in private to hold yourself in an upright and confident manner. The more you adopt the appearance of outward confidence – the easier it is to forgot you might not be!
Article kindly submitted by Think, Lead, Change’s resident expert Vickie Hobbs