The perception of confidence

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Self-confidence is considered one of the most influential motivators and regulators of behavior in people’s everyday lives (Bandura, 1986). A growing body of evidence suggests that one’s perception of ability or self-confidence is the central mediating construct of achievement strivings (e.g., Bandura, 1977; Ericsson et al., 1993; Harter, 1978; Kuhl, 1992; Nicholls, 1984).

Confidence isn’t a skill set in itself, it’s your perception of your abilities – can you handle it or not?

A common mistake most people make when going to interviews is having a “give me a chance attitude”, employers don’t want to give someone a chance, they want someone with confidence, someone who believes they can handle it.

So if confidence is a perception it’s open to influence, right? Right.

No matter how unconfident you feel in any given situation, you can elevate yourself, above your fears, by focused thinking here’s how;

1) If you are unsure ask questions, unapologetically

Asking questions, without apologising is a sign of confidence. You are unafraid to show what you don’t know because you are confident in what you do know. Instead of being a sign of weakness, asking questions is a sign of leadership, this perception is important in job interviews, especially, where employers want to know whether you can handle it, or not.

2) Make eye contact

Don’t look around the room, look your audience in the eye. Whilst in theory it may seem scary, it’s actually comforting to look people in the eye.

Looking people in the eye, gives them a strong perception that you are confident.

3) Lower your tone

Take a look at the most famous speeches in the world. You’ll find that most of them have lower tones of voice – this is no coincidence. People view speakers with lower speaking voices as having more authority and confidence. Practice speaking in a lower tone of voice. Don’t force yourself or you’ll sound unnatural, but if you can get yourself a tone or two lower, it can make a real difference to how you are perceived.

4) Gesticulate

The practice of using your hands and arms to punctuate or enhance your verbal statements – is another perceived sign of confidence. Speakers who use body language actively in their presentation tend to be viewed as more confident and more authoritative than those who do not.

5) Pause

Public speaking pauses are inserted by the absolute pros. It gives the perception of a cool, calm and collected speaker and also, allows you to gather your thoughts and think of what you are going to say next. Whether you use it, to collect your thoughts or simply to add impact to what you say, make sure you remain calm during the pause and try to keep eye contact with your audience.

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