Do you have a big job interview coming up? Going to meet your significant other’s parents? Have to go to court? Have a date with someone you really like? Do you feel like you’re nervous, afraid, insecure, or terrified? You may feel like you don’t have it together, but you can look like you do!
Confidence is the most important factor in determining how someone is perceived. You can be the most handsome guy in the room, but if you are lurking in the background, feeling insecure, no one will notice you. However, even if you consider yourself to be a real geek, confidence can make others want to know you better.
Think about this scenerio: You go out on a date with Mr. Hunk. He’s got the look, that’s for sure. But when you open the door, he’s looking at the ground, and shifting nervously from one foot to the other. In the car, he has nothing to say, or he seems to ramble on and on. By the end of the evening, you can’t remember what you thought you saw in him when you accepted this date.
Now let’s look at Date Number Two. He’s the new guy in your office, or otherwise you would probably not have ever noticed him. He is not handsome, but is pleasant looking, and you decided you didn’t want to sit home tonight so you agreed to go out to dinner and a movie with him. When you open the door, he’s smiling and looks you directly in the eye while he tells you how nice you look. In the car on the way to the restaurant, he asks you about yourself and it turns out you have many of the same interests. He doesn’t monopolize the conversation, but he’s so enthusiastic about the things he does talk about, you can’t help but be interested. At the end of the evening, you realize you’ve laughed more than you have in months, had great conversation and you think he’s so cute! See the difference?
We have all met people who everyone seems to love and we don’t see why they are “all that”, but after being around them for a short while, find ourselves drawn to them. It’s all about confidence. So what if you don’t have it? You can fake it! Yes, you can!
The first secret to a confident meeting is your appearance. Pay attention to hygiene, have clean, combed, hair. Wear something comfortable yet appropriate. If you plan to take her to a poetry reading, you won’t dress the same as you would to go to a ballgame. What do you expect others to be wearing? That will help you decide what is appropriate. Don’t buy new clothes for the occasion unless you just don’t have anything to wear. It’s more important to be comfortable and you’ll be more comfortable in clothes you know fit you well. In my experience, there is nothing worse than going to a job interview and realizing when you get there, that your skirt is too short to sit in comfortably, or your button on your suit keeps popping open, or your sweater is making you itch!
The second secret is body language. Begin to pay attention to your body language. Stand straight. Look people in the eye when you talk to them, occasionally glancing away and then back. Smile. Look interested in what they are saying. Laugh when appropriate. Don’t interrupt and look like you’re thinking more about what to say next than what they are saying right now. When you sit, look relaxed but not like you’re trying to take a nap in their chair. Scoot up on the edge of your seat occasionally when they are saying something that particularly interests you, or you are making a point. Don’t be too serious. Keep things in perspective. Confidence may take some practice to achieve, and this is not the last date or job interview you will ever have.
The third secret is about listening and conversation. Ahead of time, think of the things you really want this person to know about you, and some things you would really like to know about them (or their company). Make a list if necessary and look over it before the meeting. Don’t sell yourself short. You probably have had some very interesting experiences that would be great to share. Think of a short funny story about something that happened to you or someone you know, and work it into the conversation when it is appropriate. Don’t feel you need to keep talking non-stop.
At a first meeting, ask questions. People love to talk about themselves. If they say they are interested in something, ask why? What do they like about it? How did they get interested in that? Keep them talking about it. Don’t immediately change the subject from them to you, unless they do. Men, especially, tend to do this in their conversations. A person may say they had a great trip last weekend to the mountains, and the other person will say, “Oh yes, I was there last summer and this is what I thought about it.” Remember that being a good listener is more important than being a good conversationalist. Keep your focus on them until you’ve given them the opportunity to share and answer your questions.
The last key to confidence is attitude. Remember you are a valuable human being, every bit as important as anyone else. You are not “less” than anyone, no matter what their financial status or social status. They are people just like you. They get out of bed with messy hair every day just like you. They have times they feel insecure, too. You have no reason to be insecure around anyone for fear of what they will think. They won’t know what to think until they get to know you, so don’t let fear stand in the way of that!
Look around you at the people who seem to stand out. They are the confident ones. They are not all beautiful people, or rich, or powerful. They are just ordinary people who are interesting and are interested in others. You are, too!