By: Lorene Belotti, Guest Blogger
Some days ago, I watched again the famous and fabulous Amy Cuddy TED Talk: your body language shapes who you are. I needed a few confidence tips and I knew this video would make me feel better. If you haven’t seen it yet, I invite you to do it, you won’t be disappointed. Amy is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School; she explains how our body postures—how we stand etc.—send huge messages and reveal a lot about ourselves. Above all, she explains how presenting positive behavior and body language can help us become the person we want to be.
When we feel ill-at-ease, not in the right place or not with the right people, not confident in front of someone who impresses us for different reasons, we immediately and automatically put ourselves in a lower position. We physically close up. It’s a protection. Same thing when we are in an uncomfortable social situation like a job interview.
When we lack self-confidence, we always feel lower than others. As a consequence, we behave like dominated people, and we actually send this message to the person we consider stronger. The tone of the relationship becomes obvious.
It’s a problem we often encounter in groups, especially in assemblies of women where there is often someone seen as the leader (often a girl with a very strong character) and the followers. If a new girl arrives, she’s judged in 2 minutes. Insecurity makes people suspicious of new things and new people. Some people feel like they have to be cold or even mean to test you. Don’t forget it only reveals one thing: fear. Truth is, if you look kind, self-confident, at ease, people will “believe” you. They won’t feel threatened. You just have to show them your real face, the one you have when you feel good. People say that a first impression is the best one. Be yourself to not lose any time.
Honestly, it’s always intimidating to arrive in a new group of people. We’re afraid of not being good enough, afraid of not fitting in with their standards. Listen to and apply Amy Cuddy’s advice: fake it. Everyone is in the same situation when they face a new job situation, a new boss, new people; everyone is afraid. What is important is to make it anyway, to go beyond your fear. It’s a challenge for you. Act as if you were at ease, in your element, and you will be eventually.
I know it’s hard but it’s worth a try. I remember one year ago, I was invited by my University to give a lecture to a class of Master’s students. The aim was to talk to them about my work experience. First, I was terrified. One week before, I prepared myself a lot. I did my best to remain, always, very positive and to not think about mistakes like forgetting my points or having no reactions from students. The day of the lecture, I breathed, which forced me to focus. I made jokes like I always do (even more when I’m stressed), and I acted as if I was very cool and relaxed. I took care to watch everyone, sweeping my eyes across the room, and standing up in front of the desk and not behind, keeping my arms moving and not crossed.
At the end, against all my expectations, my heartbeat was slower and I finally impressed myself. I spoke 20 minutes more than I did in the numerous trainings I did in my bedroom and I actually had pleasure giving this class. I asked questions to the students, talked with them a lot, and left the class satisfied, smiling, happy to have presented myself as a girl who knows she can do it. I eventually felt confident leaving this classroom, even while I was faking it at the beginning. It felt awesome.
Amy Cuddy is right: “fake it until you become it.” Study your behavior when you feel bad and fix it. Try, always. Look at people you admire and act like they do. You might feel stupide because that’s not who you are? Do it. Be proud of yourself. Raise your head, no matter what you feel. Look people in the eyes. With self-respect, you’ll earn respect from the others. Never forget you are THAT GIRL!
Tuning into your body language can be super empowering!
- Bring a certain level of awareness to your body language: are you frowing, smiling? Are you standing with your arms crossed or open? Do you lean in when you talk? Do you make sustained eye contact? Notice the difference when you notice EVER aspect of your communication!
Lorene is a French observer and learner of life. She’s been working as a salesperson and a marketing assistant for four years to learn the ropes of the business world. She used to be a sports journalist while doing her Master’s degree and she loves writing and telling stories about great people too much not to go back to her first love soon. She lives in the French Alps, and loves to try to solve the world’s problems while having a great meal with her loved ones. She is passionate about foreign languages, self-development books, American TV shows, and people. Oh, and she’s a total nerd of Academic studies (when she’ll win the lottery, she’ll go to Harvard).