Who we believe we are and how others perceive us, can often be two distinct concepts.
We can never be a fly on the wall to our own personality but we can have a little more control over the self-image we project.
I'm not saying we should be anyone but ourselves, however, by incorporating a few simple tips, we can be perceived in a manner more consistent with who we believe we are.
1. Head high, shoulders back
Whilst the temptation to hunch may be strong, refrain from doing it, it's terrible for our posture and it strongly communicates that we lack self-confidence. Is this really how we want to be perceived? Pushed back our shoulders makes us appear taller. It's a power stance that conveys confidence.
2. Make eye contact
Avoidance of eye contact communicates lack of confidence, even deception. It might be difficult to hold eye contact if you're not used to it. However it's worth developing this skill, it's crucial to building trust. Plus, the mental process of looking at people in the eye, naturally makes us feel more confident. We spend less time feeling intimidated and more time focused on the words we are exchanging. Try it out and see how it adds value to your conversations.
3. Ask questions
People love talking about themselves, it makes them feel good. So, if you're the question master, they will naturally associate you with good feelings. You don't need to become a detective and interrogate everyone you meet, in fact, quite the contrary, a few simple questions (with a few follows up to show genuine interest) and people will instantly start to like you.
4. Relax your body
If a situation makes us feel uncomfortable, our natural (often subconscious reaction) is to tense up. This isn't a good look, it makes us appear guarded, unapproachable and perceived as, "highly strung". I'm certain this isn't how anyone wants to come across and luckily it can be avoided by simply remembering to physically, relax our body. Make a habit of asking, "is my body tensed, right now?". Relaxed bodies are perceived by others as confident.
5. Postive self-talk
Perceptions run deeper than just appearances. If we are given a task at work and our norm, is to talk ourselves down, such as, "you can't do this", everything we do communicates this to others. People will see our fear and this undermines our competence, regardless of our actual competence. What might not be obvious to us, is SO obvious to others. People can smell self-believe! Well, not actually but, we can't be aware of all the subtleties we give off when we self-doubt, there is just too many. Instead, a better way to manage, this negative perception is to eliminate our self doubt through positive self talk. Instead of "I can't", change to positive affirmations such as "I can" or, "I'll do my best". It sounds simple because it really is and it makes the world of difference to your own self-perception.
6. Be kind
Give off positive vibes. Of course, people are going to gravitate towards you, if you smile more than you frown. It's also nice to be nice! If you don't want to walk around with a smile plastered across your face all day, then maybe you can focus on your eyes, or be supportive to co-workers when you think they need it most. There's more than one way to be kind and being perceived as a kind person should be a high priority on anyone's list.
People will remember whether or not you really listened to them. Listening is not being silent and mentally preparing what you're going to say next. It's being focused on the other person and actually absorbing their words. It feels different. People who have mastered listening find it easier to make new connections and build trust in those around them.
8. Fill a room
When we feel intimidated it's natural to shrink, cross our arms or legs and take up less room. However, simply the act of taking up more physical space ("power posing"), standing taller, stretching out arms or legs, sends confidence hormones to our brains, making us look and feel more confident. I've written extensively on the impact of power posing here.
9. Decide on your personal brand
How can you hope to influence your external perception if you don't have a good idea of how you want to be perceived? Take the time to write down a list self-defining points. A few short positive statements of who you believe you are will suffice. Doing this helps to focus your energy on the right things in social situations.
10. Lead with charisma
The more comfortable you can be in any situation the better. Be your true self and laugh, yawn, stretch, dance - just do you. Research proves that energy is contagious. You can inspire even the most serious of execs to relax around you, if you radiate this kind of energy. Everyone is human after all. Plus, you'll hold a positive spot in their brain as a result.