This article was originally published on Inc.com.
Some people exude the kind of assurance which gives them an air of power, trustworthiness and grace. This personality instantly generates respect and often admiration from others. These types often gravitate to leadership positions because they seem to be able to handle anything with steadfast self-confidence.
Self-confidence is not to be confused with arrogance or trying to lift oneself up by comparing themselves to others. Instead, it’s having an unshakable belief in your ability to face whatever comes your way. When you present that attitude to the world, it creates positive impressions which help us navigate our way toward our goals.
There are simple steps anyone can take to cultivate an image of confidence. Here are a few basic building blocks which can create a foundation for personal and professional success.
Say it Like You Mean It
One of the main ways we undermine ourselves is through our voice, either choosing a language which waters down what we say or choosing weak or ineffective words. For example, some people turn statements into questions by adding an inflection at the end. Phrases like “kind of,” “probably,” and “like” dilute the meaning of your message and make you appear uncertain. Jargon, generalizations or trendy words also minimize your speech.
Your wardrobe is either enhancing your image or detracting from it. Either way, your choice of attire makes an immediate impression on others. It tells others how you see yourself, and can either work for you or against you. Ill-fitting, worn out or unflattering clothes can send a negative message, while a tailored and polished look says you care about important details. Dressing well is a huge advantage in cultivating confidence: looking good gives you a psychological lift and makes you feel better about yourself.
Be careful about the words which make it down the path from your brain to your mouth. There’s a time to speak up and a time to stay silent. Resist the urge to always have the last word or get credit for being right. If you’re questioning in your mind whether you should say something or not, you probably shouldn’t. If you are frustrated or angry, take a step back to think about how you want your message to come across.
Know Your Way Around Social Situations
Make sure you are well versed in basic etiquette for a variety of social situations. Knowing which is your bread plate and wine glass at a dining table goes a long way toward being comfortable and able to focus on your business companions. Practice the art of conversation so you can talk with others you don’t know well. For example, stay up on current trends, sports, the latest movies or TV shows, or other interesting topics. Do your best to avoid controversial subjects such as the current political climate.
Reflect Confidence in Your Body Language
The way we carry ourselves not only influences how others perceive us but affects how we feel about ourselves. Making eye contact, maintaining good posture and using an authentic, friendly smile are some of the ways we present the best version of ourselves to others. Bad habits such as fidgeting, slouching or crossing your arms tell others you are nervous, apathetic or defensive, undermining your efforts to reflect self-assurance.
Do Your Homework
When it comes to confidence, there’s no substitute for being prepared. Put in the amount of work necessary to walk into any meeting, presentation or situation with the knowledge you are ready. For example, if you’re giving a speech, never try to “wing it.” First, organize your thoughts, write down what you want to say and edit and revise until you have a good draft. Now you are ready to practice delivering in front of a mirror or with a close friend. Give yourself the advantage of preparation, and you are far more likely to be poised when you step up to the microphone.
True confidence is forged in the heat of taking on new challenges. In both your professional and personal life, make a deliberate effort to try new things, meet new people and take on new experiences. Believing you can do anything is a direct result of trying new things. A fear of failure doesn’t derail confident people. They know failing isn’t the worst outcome, missing an opportunity to work toward their goals is.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy 6 Things Confident People Don’t Do. Read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.