Research shows that nonverbal communication makes up 60-65% of all interpersonal communication. What is nonverbal communication? In short- it’s your BODY LANGUAGE. It is the way others perceive you without even opening your mouth.
Way back millions of years ago, the human species, in whatever form, had no language. How do you think Fred Flintstone protected Wilma from encroaching suitors and communicated territorial dominance of his cave and belongings to enemies? If you answered “grunting” and “beating your chest” you are likely correct, but the overarching principle here is CONFIDENT BODY LANGUAGE. Here are a few tips for demonstrating high confidence in both social and business situations.
1. Keep Your Chin Up
Yes, your mother has been telling you to do this since you were 5. Bear with me for a second. Why does keeping your chin up project confidence? Keeping your chin up exposes one of your body’s most vulnerable parts- the neck. When your chin is down, you are projecting that you do not feel comfortable in the current situation- and as a result, you are protecting your neck. Exposing your neck is a high-confidence display.
2. Pull your shoulders down and slightly back
Along with keeping your chin up, this tip relies on the principle of exposing your neck. Pulling your shoulders slightly back also helps you puff your chest out just a bit, which is another high-confidence display. Puffing your chest out displays that you are not afraid to expose your most vital organs in your chest- heart, lungs, etc.
3. Take up space
Don’t be afraid to take up space when sitting down or walking. Spread your legs and arms out comfortably, not excessively. Show that you don’t mind taking up some space. Make it look like you belong there, because you do.
4. Strong eye contact
Strong eye contact does not mean staring someone down, like a psychopath or potential liar . Length of eye contact really depends on the situation, but generally around 5 seconds or so is enough to demonstrate confidence. One way to really drive home a point is to not only maintain eye contact while someone else is talking to you, but while you are talking to them.
5. Smooth, deliberate movements
One high-status way of exhibiting confidence is to perform all of your movements more deliberately and smoothly than you normally would. When you have excessive, jerky movements (including fidgeting)- this elicits a subconscious response in others that suggests you are not comfortable in your environment. Demonstrate that you are in control with smooth movements.
One last thing. Wherever you are right now, complete these 5 steps (unless nobody else is present- look at a picture, or pretend someone else is present.) If you are sitting down, pull your chin-up, pull your shoulders down and back, take up some space, and execute all of these movements smoothly and deliberately. You should feel your confidence build, simply by changing your body language. Performing these actions produces a subconscious response in your own body that lets you know that you are in control. Start putting these tips into practice today, and people will notice.
 Navarro, Joe, and Marvin Karlins. What every BODY is saying: an ex-FBI agent's guide to speed-reading people. New York, NY: Collins Living, 2008. Print.