Are you frustrated by feelings of low self-esteem, inadequacy and shyness? Do you struggle seeing “naturally” confident people and wish that – just once – you could feel like they do throughout your daily life?
Well get over yourself! Really, there are very few people in the world who are born confident. For the rest of us, becoming more confident is something that we must work towards through careful, conscious self-analysis and repeated effort.
This might sound a bit touchy-feely, but the reality is that if you want to be perceived as more confident, you’ve got to take a good, hard look at how you present yourself to the world, as well as how you can consciously alter your behaviors to appear more confident.
But before we can begin this process, it’s important that you understand how powerful communication really is, as well as how you can wield it more effectively.
True communication extends well beyond the words that come out of our mouths. It encompasses the personal style we choose to project, the body language and mannerisms we put forth, as well as the sub-conscious cues we give to others about our personalities and mental states.
As an example, try to remember the last time you met someone new. Chances are you took in a great deal more detail about this person than you might initially think. Beyond the specific words he used, you probably also noticed how he was dressed, what his demeanor was like and how comfortable you felt around him. Each of these specific elements occurred because of the communication this person was using.
Now, reverse this situation. Whenever you encounter new people – or even interact with the people you already know – they’re interpreting this same information about you. If that thought makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry. Though the thought of others subconsciously processing so much information about you might seem scary, the upside is that being aware of this process gives us the opportunity to control our communications and appear more confident.
To start doing this effectively, begin with an NLP exercise called “Shifting Perceptual Positions.” Essentially, through this activity, you imagine your own past behaviors from three positions – your own point of view, the point of view of your conversation partner and from the point of view of an outsider.
Start by calling up the memory of a past situation in which you felt uncomfortable. Try to recreate in your mind every detail of the encounter. What were you wearing and how did these clothes make you feel? What specific words did you say? How did you say these words and where did you stumble in your conversation? What can you remember of your body language?
At first, try to recreate the experience from your own point of view and highlight the specific instances where you felt you weren’t coming across as confident. Then, imagine how the person you were interacting with viewed the situation. To change your point of view, envision yourself interacting with the less confident you – again, making note of instances where you perceive this version of you coming across as uncomfortable.
Finally, imagine the entire process a third time from the point of view of an outsider. If you randomly came across two people interacting in this way, what conclusions could you draw about the participants? What specific behaviors do you notice that makes one party appear less confident than the other?
Hopefully, examining a specific past experience in this way should give you a good idea of a few potential behaviors that can be changed in order to make you appear more confident.
To bring about these specific changes, we can use what’s known as the NLP “swish pattern”. Through the use of this exercise, you’ll enable your mind to quickly “swish” between unconfident and confident behaviors, allowing you to appear more assertive in any situation you’d like.
The first step in this process is to clearly envision one specific instance where you felt awkward or uncomfortable in your mind. Make it a single snapshot that embodies all of the behaviors you feel are preventing you from being seen as unconfident. Fully experience this moment, allowing yourself to feel the physiological symptoms of anxiety, the sense of embarrassment and the feelings of low self-esteem that define the “less confident” you.
Now, set that picture aside, and create a different image in your mind – one of you coming across as assertive and confident in your interactions with others. If you can call upon a particular memory in which you felt this way, that’s great. If not, create your own vision of what confidence feels like, allowing yourself to experience every element of this sensation.
Once you have these two images in your mind, go to a neutral place and relax for a few minutes before calling up the first mental image. Then, switch the pictures in your mind while saying the word “swish.” Repeat this process several times until the positive image begins to feel more natural to you than the negative one. Whenever you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, repeat this mental “swish,” and you should immediately be transported to a state of mind that allows you to act in a confident manner, in any situation.