How to Fake Confidence
You might be surprised to learn that lots of people you admire are already doing it.
Why do you need to learn how to fake confidence? Consider this scenario: Your boss asks you to plan an off-site staff meeting, a task you've never had to do before. You can reply one of two ways: You can say, "No problem. I'm on it," and get busy, or you can whisper, "I have no idea how to do that," and fret over your ignorance. Chances are, you'd pick option one. (Good choice.) Congratulations, you've just employed the "fake it 'til you make it" strategy!
Not sure what to do in any given situation? Fake your self-confidence and pretend you know how to proceed, all the while figuring it out as you go. You may feel like a charlatan, but it turns out there's something very real about the benefits of faking it.
Real Confidence vs Fake Confidence
Learning how to fake confidence can in fact teach you to actually be more confident. People who enter a new situation with confidence and a sense of self-worth—real or imagined—are perceived more positively and achieve a higher status in a group, according to a study by Gavin Kilduff and Adam Galinsky in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Here's the magic: Not only will others believe in you—you may even believe in you. By practicing confident behaviors, your thoughts and feelings about your abilities will eventually become more positive.
Granted, this doesn't happen overnight, and even top executives struggle with low self-esteem—but don't let it sideline you. Check out the following tips on how best to fake it 'til you make it. (Don't worry: Your secret's safe with us.)
Practice the Right Posture
Remember when your teachers told you to sit up straight? Well, it's time to start heeding their advice, especially as it relates to body language.
Shrinking and slouching don't inspire confidence, and neither does getting too comfortable by kicking back with your feet on the table. This isn't to say you need to go marching around with your nose in the air and fists on your hips, but standing tall not only feels good but presents well too. By making your body assume a confident posture, your mind will follow suit.
Mind Your Eye Contact
To learn how to fake confidence, start with your eyes; they are a dead giveaway as to whether or not you're feeling secure in a situation. Looking someone in the eyes means you're engaged; averting your eyes means you're, well, averting the situation.
The goal is to comfortably look people in the eye without leaving them feeling like you're staring them down. Natural eye contact humanizes you to other people, which helps put them (and you) at ease.
Pay special attention to your use of eye contact during hellos and good-byes; it's also important to look people in the eyes throughout the conversation to show that you're still present and listening.
Cultivate an Optimistic Attitude
When faced with a challenge, many people confront it with an "I have to do this" mindset. Instead, reframe the situation as an opportunity: Think "I get to do this." That can be anything from sharing your skills, learning something new, or challenging yourself to grow.
Making the shift from "have to" to "get to" can make uplift your attitude and self-confidence.
Remind Yourself of All That You're Good At
It's all too easy to dwell on all the things you don't know—but that's guaranteed to crush your self-worth. Counter those negative thoughts through positive affirmations. Make it a point to remember that you do have a wealth of experience, skills, talents, and strengths that you can draw on.
Write short messages about your strengths, then read those messages throughout the day, particularly when you face a challenge. The more you're aware of your strengths, the more confident you will feel.
Focus on Learning Over Winning
The way to eradicate the "faking it" part is by making it. School yourself so that you're forced to fake it less often. Take notes at meetings, read industry blogs and the latest studies in your field, sign up for newsletters, read up on leaders in your field. Make it a goal to learn a little bit every day, and your confidence will increase along with your knowledge bank.
Extend Your Expertise
Now that you know how to fake confidence, you can work toward a more positive self-image at work and in your personal life. Could you use more tips to help you excel in the workplace? Start by creating a Monster profile for free. You can sign up to get career advice and job search tips sent directly to your inbox. From salary negotiation to interview help, we've got you covered.