How to Exude Confidence

how to exude confidence

Verywell / Theresa Chiechi

Self-confidence refers to your belief in your skills, qualities, and ability to succeed. Having confidence in yourself is not only important to your health and well-being—it can also affect how you are perceived by others. People who exude confidence tend to be seen as more capable and trustworthy.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels confident in their abilities. For example, you might feel more insecure in certain situations or settings. In other cases, feelings of anxiety or low self-esteem might interfere with your ability to act assuredly.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to exude confidence in any situation, even when you might not be feeling it 100%. And, as the old saying goes, sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it. In other words, acting confident can actually play a role in improving your self-confidence.

This article discusses some of the things you can do to exude confidence and self-assuredness and ways that you can achieve a more positive self-image.

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Focus on Your Strengths

When you are in a situation where you want to appear confident, it can be helpful to focus on the skills and abilities you feel most confident about. Choose something you know you are good at. Then focus on highlighting or projecting that quality. 

By leading with your strengths, you’ll feel more secure and empowered—which can also help you project a sense of confidence.

Shifting your focus to your strengths can magnify those abilities while minimizing the things you feel less confident about. Because your abilities and talents will loom larger in your mind, you will feel more capable and accomplished at the moment when you need to project those feelings the most.

Talk Yourself Up

Start noticing the self-talk that you use when you are in situations where you are trying to exude confidence. Do you engage in negative self-talk? Examples of this might include thinking to yourself that you are going to make a mistake or that you can't handle the situation. 

While you might think that these thoughts aren't that big of a deal, they can have a serious impact on your ability to stay confident. By regularly thinking negative thoughts about yourself and your abilities, you might eventually convince yourself that you really don't have what it takes to succeed.

Talking negatively to yourself leads to self-limiting beliefs; the more you tell yourself you can't do something or that you are bad at something, the more likely you are to believe it. It impairs motivation and can even contribute to feelings of depression.

Positive self-talk, on the other hand, has been shown to be strongly associated with success.

If you tend to engage in negative self-talk, start working on reframing your thoughts to be more positive and optimistic. For example, you might work on reminding yourself that there are positive sides to every situation. Talking to yourself positively is a great way to boost your sense of self-efficacy so that you feel better able to succeed and deal with whatever you are facing.

Prime Yourself for Success

Priming is a phenomenon in which being exposed to one type of stimulus can affect how you respond to a subsequent stimulus. You can utilize this tendency by priming yourself for positivity and success. 

For example, research has found that among athletes, priming activities that focused on goals led to increased self-confidence. For athletes, this can play an essential role in their performance and athletic success.

Remind Yourself of Past Success

One way you can prime your mind to help you exude confidence is to think about a time when you have felt successful or powerful. Spend a few minutes writing about the experience. You’ll be more likely to carry those feelings of power with you in the future.

In one experiment, researchers had participants recall a time when they felt powerful. Afterward, the participants either wrote an application letter or interviewed for a job. Independent judges who read these letters and observed these interviews found that those who had been primed by recalling their own experiences with power performed significantly better.

Look for Inspiration

Looking to confident people you admire, reading inspirational statements, or repeating a motivating mantra can also be a way to boost your confidence when you need it. The key is to choose realistic role models or statements that reflect achievable goals. 

While you might be tempted to pump yourself up with aspirational quotes or feel-good affirmations, research suggests you should exercise caution when selecting motivational quotes. This is because unrealistic or overly positive inspirational quotes can sometimes backfire. 

For example, research has found that people who have low self-esteem actually feel worse when they encounter excessively positive feedback.

So look for things that help you feel inspired or confident, whether it’s motivational quotes or other types of messages. Just make sure you pick things that actually help, and not hurt, your confidence.

Avoid Making Comparisons

While finding sources of positive inspiration can help you exude confidence, it is important to avoid comparing yourself to other people unfavorably. When you make such comparisons, whether you are looking at their performance, appearance, or other qualities, it can ultimately make you feel worse about yourself.

Upward social comparisons in particular, or contrasting yourself unfavorably to people who seem "better" than you in some way, can be particularly damaging. According to one study, making such comparisons leads to feelings of envy. The more envy people feel, the worse they feel about themselves.

The next time you find yourself comparing yourself or feeling envious, shift your focus over to your own strengths and abilities. It’s great to admire people and feel inspired by them—just be careful to avoid jealousy or envy.

Take on New Challenges

While you might be tempted to simply avoid the situations that leave you feeling less confident, doing so can actually increase your anxiety and lessen your faith in your abilities. Research has found that practicing the things you fear can help reduce anxiety and improve self-confidence.

This doesn’t mean that you should throw yourself into a situation that you’re not ready for. Taking on too much and failing might actually make you feel less capable in the long run. 

Instead, try gradually practicing things you find intimidating—whether it’s giving a speech or networking at a professional event. This can help you build confidence in your ability to succeed in those circumstances.

As you take more steps toward gaining experience and expertise in those areas, you can build a solid foundation that will fuel your confidence without risking setbacks that might negatively affect your self-esteem.

Tame Your Nerves

Confident people tend to appear relaxed and at ease even in high-pressure situations. Exuding confidence often involves finding a way to deal with feelings of anxiety. 

Some things that might help calm your nervousness in these moments:

  • Remind yourself that other people don't see you the same way you see yourself. You might feel nervous on the inside, but that doesn't mean that other people can see that anxiety. People have other things to think about, including their own worries, so remember that they aren't focusing on you as much as you think they are.
  • Take some deep breaths. Research has found that deep breathing can be a highly effective tool for easing feelings of anxiety in stressful moments.
  • Accept your emotions. Remember that it’s fine to be nervous and everyone feels uncertain and anxious at times. These feelings don't control the outcome. Instead of judging your emotions or trying to avoid them, accept them and remind yourself that your feelings don't necessarily reflect reality.

Practicing relaxation techniques such as visualization and progressive muscle relaxation can also help you calm your mind and body in stressful situations. 

Exude Confidence With Body Language

Confident body language can make you feel more secure and competent. Body language signals that can help you feel more in control include:

  • Standing with both feet firmly on the ground
  • Avoiding fidgeting
  • Making eye contact with other people
  • Mirroring other people’s body language

Practicing these body positions and signals beforehand can help. Look for opportunities to put your body language to work and pay attention to how you feel as a result.

In a "TED Talk" on body language, social psychologist Amy Cuddy suggested that using "power poses" signals to your brain that you are more confident. These signals then help lower levels of stress hormones in the body, which can ultimately help you feel more relaxed and confident.

Using powerful body language can help you project confidence and even help you feel more self-assured.

A Word From Verywell

The great thing about working on projecting outer confidence is that it eventually helps improve your inner feelings of confidence. This may take some time and practice, but eventually, you can learn how to exude confidence on the outside, and feel it more strongly on the inside.

9 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.