Trust is a tricky thing. If you don’t do enough of it, people may overlook you. Too much and you may come across as arrogant.
But what if you do things that make you seem less confident without even realizing it?
These subtle behaviors can undermine the impression you’re trying to make, but the good news is that they’re usually easy to adjust.
In this piece, we explore nine behaviors that can make you appear less confident – and how you can change them. Believe me, a few small changes can make a world of difference!
Let’s dive in and see if you’re guilty of any of these confidence-destroying habits.
1) Fidgeting(Less Confident)
We’ve all been there: sitting in a meeting, nervously tapping our foot or twirling a pen. But did you know that these small, nervous habits can make you seem less confident?
Fidgeting is a common behavior when we are anxious or uncomfortable. It is a way to release nervous energy, but to others it may seem like you are insecure or lack self-confidence.
The good news is that this is an easy habit to control. It takes some self-awareness and practice, but the reward is worth it.
Start by recognizing when you’re fidgeting: maybe tapping your foot during a presentation, or twirling your hair while having a difficult conversation. Once you’ve identified the habit, make a conscious effort to stop it.
This small adjustment can have a big impact on how others experience your self-confidence.
2) Talk softly
I’ve always been a bit of a soft-spoken person. It’s just part of who I am. But over time, I realized that this habit made me appear less confident than I actually was.
During meetings or group discussions, my soft voice often caused me to be overlooked or interrupted. People assumed I wasn’t confident in my ideas because I didn’t speak loudly.
I recognized this and made a conscious effort to speak clearly and with more volume. It wasn’t about shouting or being the loudest in the room; it was about making sure my voice was heard.
This small adjustment made a huge difference in how people perceived me. Suddenly my ideas were more recognized and appreciated.
Don’t let your volume diminish your confidence!
3) Make yourself small
Have you ever noticed how some people shrink in their chairs during meetings or try to take up as little space as possible? This behavior can show a lack of trust.
Professor Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School discovered that adopting ‘power poses’ – standing upright, taking up space and opening up the body – can actually affect our hormones, increasing testosterone (the dominance hormone) and decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone).
By consciously choosing to adopt more open, confident postures, you can change not only how others see you, but also how you think about yourself.
When you are in a meeting, remember to sit up straight and take up enough space.
4) Avoiding eye contact
Eye contact can be a powerful tool in communicating trust. When you look someone in the eye, it indicates that you are committed, attentive and secure in your position.
However, avoiding eye contact can send the opposite message. It may indicate that you are uncomfortable, unsure or not fully present in the conversation.
This doesn’t mean you have to stare intently at every person you meet. That can be unpleasant and counterproductive. Instead, aim for a balanced amount of eye contact – enough to show that you are actively involved, but not so much that it becomes awkward.
A confident look can make the difference!
5) Excessive apologizing
We all have moments when we need to apologize for a mistake or misunderstanding. But if you constantly say “sorry” for little things that don’t warrant an apology, you may come across as lacking in self-confidence.
Apologizing too much can make it seem like you’re always wrong or unsure of your actions. This can undermine your authority and make it harder for others to see you as a confident person.
Working on this habit involves recognizing when an apology is necessary and when it isn’t. If you did something wrong or caused any inconvenience, by all means apologize. But if you’re saying sorry because you’re just expressing your thoughts or taking up space, it’s time to think again.
Replacing unnecessary excuses with phrases like “excuse me,” “let me clarify,” or simply stating your opinion can make a significant difference in the way others perceive your self-confidence.
6) Downplaying achievements
Sometimes we are our own worst critics. We accomplish something big, and instead of recognizing our hard work and success, we downplay it. I have seen many people, including myself, fall into this trap.
Maybe it’s out of fear of sounding boastful or because we don’t believe our achievements are that important. But in reality, this behavior only decreases our trust in the eyes of others.
Recognize your achievements for what they are: the result of your hard work and dedication. Don’t hesitate to share your success. It doesn’t mean you’re bragging; you simply acknowledge your efforts.
Remember, owning your achievements does not make you arrogant. It shows that you are confident in your abilities and the value you bring. And that is something to be proud of!
7) Hesitant body language
There was a time when I would walk into a room and immediately go to the back or a corner. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this hesitant body language subtly conveyed a lack of confidence.
Our body language can say a lot about us before we even open our mouths. Hesitant or closed body language can make us appear insecure or uncomfortable.
On the other hand, walking into a room with purpose and confidence, maintaining an open posture, and using gestures while talking can significantly increase the way others perceive your confidence.
It took some practice, but once I made these adjustments, I noticed a significant change in the way people responded to me. It’s amazing how these subtle changes can make such a big difference.
8) Negative self-talk
We all have that little voice in our heads. Sometimes it’s a cheerleader, sometimes it’s our worst critic. If your inner voice is constantly negative, it can affect your self-confidence.
Negative self-talk such as “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good enough” can seep into your outward behavior and make you seem less confident.
The key is to become aware of this negative chatter and challenge it. Replace these self-defeating thoughts with positive affirmations such as “I am capable” or “I can handle this.”
The way you talk to yourself is important. Positive self-talk can not only boost your self-confidence, but also change the way others perceive you.
9) Don’t ask for what you want
One of the clearest signs of trust is the ability to assertively ask for what you want. Whether it’s a raise, a promotion, or simply expressing your opinion at a meeting, being able to articulate your wishes shows that you value yourself and your contributions.
Constantly holding back or waiting for others to acknowledge your needs could indicate a lack of self-confidence.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice it will become second nature and greatly increase your perceived confidence.
Final thought: Trust is a journey
As we navigate through life, it’s important to remember that confidence is not something we are born with, but a quality we cultivate over time. It’s a journey, not a destination.
Research by psychologist Albert Bandura suggests that confidence is a belief in our ability to succeed. This belief can be strengthened or weakened by our behavior and habits.
The behaviors we’ve discussed here, from nervous fidgeting to downplaying achievements, can detract from your perceived self-confidence. But the great thing about behavior is that it can be modified.
By recognizing these habits and consciously changing them, you can significantly improve how confidently you present yourself to the world.
Trust is not just about how others perceive you. It’s about how you perceive yourself. And every step you take to modify these behaviors is one step closer to confidently embracing your full potential.
As you think about this article, think about what behaviors resonate with you. How can changing these habits boost your self-confidence? What steps will you take on your journey to greater self-confidence?
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