10 Ways Even Shy People Can Fake Confidence and Get Ahead

By Sarah Winfrey on 1 July 2015 0 comments

You have an interview. Or a presentation. Or you want to ask your boss for a raise, or ask that hot somebody at the gym on a date. But there's one problem.

You're shy. You don't feel confident about this and you fear they'll see it.

Fortunately, confidence is pretty easy to fake. If you can change some things about the way you carry yourself and the ways you interact with people for the duration of your challenging situation, you will come across as much more confident than you might actually feel. (And of course, faking it can be a big step towards making it!) Here's how.

1. Whatever You Do, Don't Apologize!

People who aren't confident apologize when they don't have to and, in doing so, act as if they don't matter as much as the people they're talking to. If you have done something wrong, apologize by all means. But don't do it unless it is completely warranted and you are actually sorry. Some shy people even open conversations this way, saying, "I'm sorry, do you have a minute?" or "I'm sorry to bother you, but..." This conveys the opposite of confidence.

2. Slow Down

Many shy people tend to move and speak quickly or erratically when they feel uncomfortable. Instead, slow everything down. Speak precisely, making sure each word is clear. This shows that you are comfortable enough with yourself that you don't have to either steal or avoid the limelight to make sure you are heard. If you feel like you are going too fast, stop, smile, take a deep breath, and continue.

3. Stand Up Straight

If you can't do anything else, you can probably square your shoulders and lift your chin until the situation you aren't feeling confident about is over. This makes you look bigger, which alone may be enough to project more confidence. But good posture also says that you are ready for anything and sure of your ability to handle it.

4. Be Bold With Eye Contact

Eye contact is really hard for a lot of shy people, but maintaining it is key to looking confident. It may take some mental focus, but appearing engaged and interested in whatever is going on is important when you want to look confident. If looking at someone's eyes is awkward or too uncomfortable, at the very least you can focus on their mouth or their nose.

5. Turn Towards People

If you're shy, you might find that you're often partially turned away from a conversation, even one you're engaged and interested in. Make sure that both your toes and your torso are aimed toward the people you're speaking to, and you will look like you are put together and focused on what is at hand. This also shows an immense amount of respect to the other people in the conversation, which shows that you are confident enough to let others be important, too.

6. Think Positive Thoughts

Specifically, think about your ambitions in a particular area before you go into a situation in that area where you want to appear confident. If you want someone to go on a date with you, write or imagine where you see that scenario ending. If you want a new job, think about what it would be like to work at the company and where that might lead you in the future. You will then automatically present yourself more assertively and people will think better of you when you're in the actual situation.

7. Laugh

If there is an appropriate opportunity for laughter, be sure to take it. This makes you seem happy, and happiness comes across as confidence. Make sure that you don't laugh awkwardly, though, or at someone else. It's best when you can laugh at yourself, which shows that you don't take yourself too seriously and that whatever happened isn't enough to shake you. Even if you truly are shaken, think about something funny and laugh at that, instead. No one will know the difference.

8. Practice Your Body Language

Many shy people rehearse potentially difficult situations ahead of time to make sure that they have their words down. When you do this, rehearse some body language, too. Specifically, make sure that your body language reflects the emotion you're trying to convey with your words. This will make you seem more consistent and convincing, so people will be more likely to trust you and follow where you want to lead.

9. Use Power Poses

If you want to appear more confident, practice power poses before a potentially difficult encounter. These trick your brain into actually feeling more confident, so you will automatically present yourself that way during your meeting. You probably don't want to use these during an actual encounter, because that would look at least a little bit awkward. But you can use them beforehand, even in a bathroom stall if you have to.

10. Ask Good Questions

If you are the one asking questions, it means you're the one leading the conversation, and that always projects confidence. You can ask anything — ask someone how their day is going, or how they are feeling about a situation. Once you've asked, listen to the response. Then, you can ask another question, offer your own ideas, or at least give them a genuine smile.

When you put these all together, you have one confident presentation of yourself. And these are all things you can "fake," so you can do it even when you're feeling shy.

When are you most likely to fake confidence? Has it worked well for you in the past?

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