Whether it’s interviewing for a new position, asking for a raise or promotion or networking with that potential new business, confidence goes a long way when it comes to career success. How you come across plays a big role in the results you achieve. But what if you’re just not feeling it? What if you’re new on the job, in unfamiliar territory or are just naturally reserved? Can you really “fake it till you make it?”
Absolutely! Here’s How…
You may not realise it, but chances are that some of the people you’re impressed by every day are faking it, too. Plenty of highly successful people have suffered from self-doubt, low self-worth and the sense that they don’t deserve the status they’ve achieved. It’s a part of human nature.
But it doesn’t have to derail you. Confidence — or at least the appearance of confidence — can be learned, and there are several tricks to give off an aura of calm and command, no matter how skittish you’re feeling on the inside:
1. Dress to Impress
Looking polished and put-together automatically makes you seem more in control. And chances are, if you have your own lucky power suit or killer little black dress, you know that looking great can also make you feel great, too.
Smiling not only makes you seem more open and calm, it can also release endorphins that naturally make you feel better. Suddenly you’re not just acting as though you’re more at ease, you really are more at ease.
3. Focus on the Other Person
If you’re networking, be sure to ask plenty of questions when you meet someone new. People love talking about themselves, and it will make you seem like a great conversationalist! If you’re trying to foster a connection, allow yourself to really listen to the questions the other person is asking and do not get caught up in thinking how you’re going to respond. You don’t have to fill every single gap in the conversation. What you do need to do is respond thoughtfully.
4. Play Pretend
Imagine you are that successful, fearless person you admire or want to become. How would they react in a situation? How would they greet a potential client, handle a crisis, present themselves to an interviewer? Don’t be fake — people can sense insincerity from a mile away. By envisioning yourself as a better version of yourself and acting that way, you can distance yourself from feeling that nervousness. You’ll react in a way that’s much smoother than you might actually feel.
Why This Works
People perceive us based on the signals we give out. Most of us don’t take the time to really consider those signals and deliberately take control of them. We get stuck inside our own minds, which results in giving out whatever signals our nervous brains think of.
By making a concerted effort to give off an aura of confidence, two things happen.
First, people see the signals we’re putting out and assume they’re the real thing. If you saw someone giving a presentation with a big smile, confident gestures and an easy-going tone, you’d assume he was a seasoned presenter. In reality, he may have no idea what he’s talking about and might have spent half the night up worrying about it. But, as any good car salesman can tell you, it’s all about the way you sell the product, not the product itself. In this case, the product is you. Sell it well and people will buy it.
Second, faking confidence can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. At first, you start out winging it, but the more you practice acting confident, the more you gradually find yourself feeling confident. Part of this is because people begin to react to you more positively, which boosts your sense of self-esteem. But the bigger part is that you are slowly proving to yourself that you do have what it takes to make it in tough situations. Even if you got to that point through a little clever role-playing, the result is the same: You put more and more positive experiences under your belt until suddenly you find you’re not “faking” it anymore — you really are confident in your abilities!