Step 1: Have good posture
This is one of the best ways to communicate confidence, and also one of the best ways to appear confident when you actually aren`t. It`s very simple and does not require balancing books on your head, or anything of that nature. You don`t need to carry yourself like a debutant; you just need to appear graceful and unselfconscious.
When walking, stand up tall and keep your back reasonably straight. Do not be forceful with this. You should feel supported but relaxed. Keep in mind the natural curvature of your spine and don`t try to stand ramrod straight. Relax your shoulders so that they fall down and back. Don`t hunch forward. Most importantly, keep your head up. Don`t stare at the ground or at your feet.
When sitting, again keep your back straight, but don`t force it. The key is to appear relaxed, but not so relaxed that you are hunched over.
If you are accustomed to sitting and standing differently, this will most likely feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first, but don`t give up on it. Simply try to catch yourself and correct your posture each time you start to slouch. Over time this will become second nature and it will no longer be something you need to think about.
Also keep in mind that the benefits of good posture far outweigh the amount of work required to cultivate it. People naturally associate good posture with high self-esteem, competence and leadership skills. This is ultimately evolutionary. Human beings, just as other animals, instinctively associate ¨minimizing¨ body language, (i.e. slouching) with submission, and ¨maximizing¨ body language, (standing up straight to display your full height), with dominance. Thus, even if you are a naturally shy or self-conscious person, you will appear more confident if you have good posture. Over time you may even find that having good posture makes you feel more confident, especially if you were previously in the habit of hunching over, staring at the ground, or displaying other forms of body language that communicate a desire to avoid eye-contact.
Step 2: Speak up
This can be a difficult adjustment, especially if you are very shy by nature. However, it is extremely important. Speaking too softly suggests that you are unsure of yourself and of what you are saying. Even if you are unsure of what you`re saying, it is better to communicate your doubts in a way that does not reflect on your level of self-esteem, such as simply expressing them verbally.
Speaking up also means avoiding mumbling and the excessive use of filler pauses like ¨um¨. Not only does this make it more difficult for people to understand you, but it also communicates a lack of confidence.
If you are in the habit of mumbling or speaking too softly because you are uncomfortable speaking to/in front of others, keep in mind that not speaking up will ultimately only increase your discomfort. People will have to ask you to repeat yourself or lean in closer to understand you. Discussions will take longer than they normally would, and you will communicate a desire, consciously or not, to be left alone. If you are the sort of person who prefers that others approach you, this is obviously not something you want.
Step 3: Stop worrying about what other people think.
This is probably one of the most difficult steps, especially for people who are naturally self-conscious. A great deal of self-consciousness stems from a fear of being disliked or estimated poorly by others. It is important to realize that the desire to be liked is natural, healthy and present in most people, but that very shy people often take this desire to unhealthy and excessive proportions.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you don`t need everyone to like you. Even if that were possible, it would certainly not be worth the enormous amount of effort required to please everyone, especially people you have only brief interactions with. However many people are so preoccupied with being liked that they even worry about strangers, who they will most likely never see again, thinking poorly of them.
If you are shy or socially phobic in any way you probably have a tendency to judge yourself much more harshly than others would judge you. You also may have an exaggerated sense of how often other people are even paying any attention to what you`re doing long enough to form a negative judgment. Think about it like this: if you were standing in line at the bank and you saw someone drop their purse and spill stuff all over the floor, would you think poorly of that person? It depends on your personality and mood, but most likely not. If you anything you might be slightly irritated, amused, or even feel bad for them, but this action certainly would not produce a moral judgment or a sense of dislike on your part.
However, if you are are naturally self-conscious and this happened to you, you might feel absolutely mortified. But why? No one cares. No one in that bank is going to remember you as ¨that idiot who dropped stuff all over the floor¨. They will forget about it almost immediately, as they hopefully have much more interesting things to think about.
Another way to avoid this unnecessarily painful preoccupation is to keep in mind that there are really only two reasons you should be concerned about someone`s opinion of you: a) for practical reasons, such as because they are evaluating you, for example in a job interview, or b) because you know the person and they have given you some reason to believe that their opinion should be valued and respected. Otherwise, does it really matter? Most likely it won´t have a significant effect on your life. It`s natural to enjoy being liked, but you shouldn’t always feel the need to make being liked a priority. Besides, if you are just polite, respectful, and friendly, the vast majority of people will get a positive impression of you. It really isn’t something you need to spend a lot of time thinking about.
4. Think about how much you rock.
This is not to suggest that you should start getting cocky. However, if you have poor self-confidence you probably deserve a lot more credit than you give yourself. So, start taking an inventory of all of your best qualities. Don`t compare yourself to others; you will never be satisfied. Simply think about what you like about yourself, and realize that if you like it it is most likely something others will think positively of as well.
This also means shutting down any excessively self-deprecating dialogue you may have running in your head. A little self-deprecation is good, as it keeps you humble and prevents you from taking yourself too seriously. However, you should never spend an enormous amount of time beating yourself up. This is ultimately self-destructive and unhelpful. If you make a mistake, don`t let this destroy your confidence. Look at it as a problem to be solved and not as a personal failure, think about how you can fix it if possible, and avoid doing the same in future. Then forget about it, because chances are everyone else already has.