By Debbie Peterson – Founder of Getting to Clarity, Speaker, Trainer and Coach for the fed up midlife woman looking to discover and fulfill her purpose with confidence and clarity!
What have you done for me lately? That’s a question you should be asking yourself. Confidence is a state of mind and happens as a result of what is going on outside (body) of you as much as what goes on inside (mind) of you. The other six steps to Confidence are related to mindset but this last one is all about your external Personal Presence and why it’s so important to develop one.
Developing your Personal Presence is like developing your personal brand. It is what you are on the inside, reflected to the outside world. It’s how you present yourself in a consistent, confident manner and it’s based on 3 things – How you act, how you speak and how you look. That’s why it’s the 7th Step to Building Confidence.
How you act:
How you “hold” yourself when you talk or meet with others is a big part of your Personal Presence and is an outward sign of your confidence. Here are some tips to physically show up in a way that says Confident:
- Stand tall. I know your mother or grandmother probably shrieked a “Stand up tall!” when you were growing up and you probably rolled your eyes but it really was good advice and is very relevant in building Confidence. If you back up to a wall, place your heels, your bottom, your shoulders and back of the head against the wall, then you are standing tall. Practice this to help you know what “standing tall” means for you.
- Make eye contact. Make and keep it. When you make eye contact you are engaged with the person or group you are talking with. Don’t let your eyes wander to see who else is in the room or what is going on outside.
- Intentional gestures. There are certain gestures called Satir gestures that can be effective in adding to your Confidence when speaking to others. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- The Blamer – imagine at its most extreme it is someone leaning forward pointing their finger, blaming someone for something. You don’t want to go around shouting and blaming others to build your confidence, but the “soft” Blamer is really pretty common and is used to say “this is important”. Picture a politician making a fist with his thumb just peaking over the top of it.
- The Computer – imagine the classic “thinker” pose – arms crossed, head resting on your fist. It says I’m contemplating what you’re saying. It conveys intelligence and thoughtfulness.
- The Leveler – at its extreme it’s like the umpire making the sign for “He’s safe!” in baseball. It is the deliberate, horizontal movement with your hands, palms down. Using this in a smaller way allows you to make a point that you’re not likely to budge from.
How you speak:
When speaking about something how you say something is just as important as what you say. Here’s what I mean:
- Have knowledge of the topic. This seems like a “no brainer” but if you don’t have the ability to speak to something, don’t. You can, however, inquire. “I’d like to know more about that” or “I’d like to hear what you have to say” can be useful. It’s also perfectly OK to say “I’m not sure but I’d like to research it and get back to you” when asked a question you have no knowledge or limited knowledge of.
- Don’t hesitate. If you know the answer, say it. If you have a question, ask it! How many times have you been in a meeting or conversation when you had something you wanted to add but didn’t because you weren’t sure it was relevant or you were worried that someone would think it was dumb? Then someone else asks your question or makes your comment and you’re beating yourself up because you didn’t say what you wanted to say! You’ve got a voice. Use it! If you’re asking a question it’s because you need more information. If someone has a problem with that it’s their stuff! Not yours.
- Avoid “up-speak”. Up-speak is when you deliver an answer and your voice rises at the end almost like you are asking a question. When you do this you sound less confident in your answer (even if you know the topic cold). If you’re not confident in your answer or sound like you’re not confident in your answer, then why should anyone else be confident in it?
- Use your lower tone of voice. Generally a lower tone of voice is more acceptable for women to communicate with others. You don’t have to use an artificially lower tone of voice, just use the lower end of your own natural range. What you’re trying to avoid is the high, shrill, shrieking range. I know you’ve heard it or used it at some point.
How you look:
Generally, how you look as a woman isn’t a deal breaker, until it is. Here’s what I mean. For a woman, especially a woman in business, it is important to keep this in mind:
- Make sure it fits. It doesn’t matter what size you wear, make sure it fits you well. No hems dragging on the floor, no sleeves down to your knuckles and no shoulder seams hanging down to your biceps. Find a tailor or seamstress and make sure the clothing fits your frame. Having said this, the caution is making sure it doesn’t fit you too well. Figure hugging clothing, low necklines, and very high hems can cause your credibility to take a nosedive. If you’d wear it clubbing, it’s probably not a good choice for the office.
- Make sure it is in good repair. For clothing this means you want to address, snags, tears, stains, hems that are ripped out, etc. For shoes so make sure the heels aren’t ripped up and that the footwear isn’t scuffed. Run one of those shine sponges over them before leaving. This particular item also applies to you as well. Have you taken the time to get a haircut? Find a hair stylist that can give you a haircut that makes you feel good and that is easy to take care of. Are your nails taken care of? Even if you don’t want to have them done, make sure they are trimmed and have a light coat of polish, even clear will work.
- Feel good in it. Again it doesn’t matter your size, if you are going to buy something make sure you feel good in it. I have been a lot lighter than I am now and a lot heavier than I am now and the one thing that remains consistent is that when I’m looking for an outfit I’ve got to feel a certain way when I put it on. I want to feel “sharp” and therefore confident with what I select.
This all ties into confidence because the attention that is paid to the outside of you translates to attention for the inside of you and you’re worth it!
Leave me a comment below and let me know other ways that you use to feel confident on the outside!
Until next time, here’s wishing you the clarity you deserve!
Be good to yourself,
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