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How do you act confident in front of your peers when you have a low self-confidence?Also, how do you get rid of your low self-confidence and bad body image?

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7 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

A great article lists some steps on how to build confidence. Some notable points:

  • Believe in yourself. You have something special in you.
  • Focus on your positive attributes.
  • Don’t criticize yourself in front of others. People treat you as you treat yourself.
  • Everyday write down things you are proud of.
  • Exercising boosts your overall well-being and happiness.
  • Being friendly to others and smiling makes you appear confident.
  • Be aware of your body language. Quick movements convey jumpiness and uncertainty.
  • Don't let yourself be interrupted by others when speaking.
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Excellent answer - a great positive is to get a 'soul jar' which your friends can populate with positive statements about you. When you feel less confident, read the contents of the jar - it sounds very uplifting. –  Rory Alsop May 22 '13 at 14:54
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A recent decent TED talk - http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

Has a lovely illistration (scientific as well) of how acting confident (in terms of body poses) makes you confident...

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Relevent quotes are

But our question really was, do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?

There's some evidence that they do. So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we're forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy. So it goes both ways. When it comes to power, it also goes both ways. So when you feel powerful, you're more likely to do this, but it's also possible that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful.

So the second question really was, you know, so we know that our minds change our bodies, but is it also true that our bodies change our minds? And when I say minds, in the case of the powerful, what am I talking about? So I'm talking about thoughts and feelings and the sort of physiological things that make up our thoughts and feelings, and in my case, that's hormones. I look at hormones. So what do the minds of the powerful versus the powerless look like? So powerful people tend to be, not surprisingly, more assertive and more confident, more optimistic. They actually feel that they're going to win even at games of chance. They also tend to be able to think more abstractly. So there are a lot of differences. They take more risks. There are a lot of differences between powerful and powerless people. Physiologically, there also are differences on two key hormones: testosterone, which is the dominance hormone, and cortisol, which is the stress hormone. So what we find is that high-power alpha males in primate hierarchies have high testosterone and low cortisol, and powerful and effective leaders also have high testosterone and low cortisol.

and

But the next question, of course, is can power posing for a few minutes really change your life in meaningful ways? So this is in the lab. It's this little task, you know, it's just a couple of minutes. Where can you actually apply this? Which we cared about, of course. And so we think it's really, what matters, I mean, where you want to use this is evaluative situations like social threat situations. Where are you being evaluated, either by your friends? Like for teenagers it's at the lunchroom table. It could be, you know, for some people it's speaking at a school board meeting. It might be giving a pitch or giving a talk like this or doing a job interview. We decided that the one that most people could relate to because most people had been through was the job interview.

...

So we bring people into a lab, and they do either high- or low-power poses again, they go through a very stressful job interview. It's five minutes long. They are being recorded. They're being judged also, and the judges are trained to give no nonverbal feedback, so they look like this. Like, imagine this is the person interviewing you. So for five minutes, nothing, and this is worse than being heckled. People hate this. It's what Marianne LaFrance calls "standing in social quicksand." So this really spikes your cortisol. So this is the job interview we put them through, because we really wanted to see what happened. We then have these coders look at these tapes, four of them. They're blind to the hypothesis. They're blind to the conditions. They have no idea who's been posing in what pose, and they end up looking at these sets of tapes, and they say, "Oh, we want to hire these people," -- all the high-power posers -- "we don't want to hire these people. We also evaluate these people much more positively overall." But what's driving it? It's not about the content of the speech. It's about the presence that they're bringing to the speech. We also, because we rate them on all these variables related to competence, like, how well-structured is the speech? How good is it? What are their qualifications? No effect on those things. This is what's affected. These kinds of things. People are bringing their true selves, basically. They're bringing themselves. They bring their ideas, but as themselves, with no, you know, residue over them. So this is what's driving the effect, or mediating the effect.

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Practice.

Join Toastmasters. You'll have opportunities every meeting to speak in front of a group of supportive people who are trying to do the same thing.

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In summary, improve your voice, appearance and posture.

Take voice and singing lessons if you can. In my case, my voice improved a lot when I started practicing reading aloud, singing, and giving presentations at home - by myself - even without any formal instruction. When you start hearing and getting use to your voice sounding confidently at home, you will bring that voice and confidence at work.

Get to the gym, keep yourself fit, and invest in stylish clothes. If you look like a million bucks, you act like a million bucks and people treat you like a million bucks.

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A huge part of confidence for me was removing negativity in my life.

Be around people who love and support you. Try to limit time to negative people to times when you are strong and can help them. And remove all negative thoughts in your life. ALL. This is not done by ignoring them, or suppressing them, but by replacing them with a positive truthful outlook.

"This time being sick gives me time to focus on such and such."

Source: I've had a great family who boosted my confidence, and I have been nearly bedridden for 9 months due to incurable illness, and I am still super happy.

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/positive-thinking-1.jpg

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Let's take a few examples. Tell me which one you instinctively think is more confident:

  • The guy in the suit who speaks loudly, and wears an expensive watch. He drives a Mercedes-Benz. He tells everyone he's from Harvard, even wears a ring that proves it. He smokes about a dozen cigars a day.
  • The quiet businessman who hangs out with the loud one. He speaks only 15% of the time, but when he does, it's something informational. Once, you saw him calmly, but assertively turn down a bad deal which tried to take advantage of his good nature.
  • The muscular, handsome guy with slick hair. He comfortably asks girls out on dates (and doesn't mind getting rejected). He gets good grades as well. He makes it well known that he loves sports, is fashion sensitive, and goes to the gym.
  • That guy who sometimes sleeps in the front row of class. He takes minimal notes. He's dressed in the same jacket every day and slouches a bit. Sometimes he skips classes to watch a movie. Nonetheless he gets good grades.

While some of these examples may be acted confidence, one of them stands out as particularly fake. They all appear more confident than the average person, though some appear more insecure for several reasons.

Confidence has to be sincere. It cannot be acted. Acted confidence almost always looks insecure.

My approach to being confident is to find a greater purpose and don't let anything else get in the way. Your purpose can be anything. For me, it's religion. For some, it can be their career. It can be a spouse, or children. It can be a piece of art, like a statue, painting, game, or novel.

Everything builds around this purpose. Don't let people keep you from your purpose. If your daughter is the highest priority, turn down your boss when he asks you to work overtime during an important event of hers. If people make fun of you, ignore them, because your daughter's approval is all you need. Being devoted to a single purpose and having consistent values will earn you a lot of respect.

Avoid being extrinsically motivated - this is especially in regards to things like money, power, and position. If your identity relies on what others think, you won't look confident.

Body Language

Oh, but a small note on body language: Standing straight makes you look confident.

Take an alpha male posture. Arms to the side, never crossed... don't deflect any attacks to your chest; you're an alpha and nobody dares to attack you. Pull your shoulders back, thrust your chest forwards. It's a sexually appealing posture whether you're male or female.

References

Some good reading material is Jack Canfield's The Success Principles. A lot of it may have little to do with confidence at first glance, but the principles all come together to make you a more confident person.

There was also a decent Linked In article on this recently.

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You can not act confident if you are not. As for the other question, you will have to figure out what makes you like that. Find the reason why do you have low confidence and body image.

Once you figure out the root cause (let's call it "Subject Matter"), just work on it and get better with it, familiarize your self with the Subject Matter and gain more knowledge about it. You will start becoming confidant naturally as you go.

Low self confidence is nothing but lack of knowledge in the Subject Matter.

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