Image matters. We’d love to be able to say that it doesn’t, but it does. And yes, the way a person carries him or herself can directly communicate their internal level of confidence. In the last post, I made the case for how to “act” more confident. This post is how do you “look” more confident.
Looking confident has as much to do with how you carry yourself as it does with what you wear. Harvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy has done some fascinating research around this topic of looking confident. Specifically, what she found was that by assuming a “power pose” prior to and interaction, one could actually “feel” more confident. And it’s not just feeling more confident, the levels of testosterone would actually increase. What is a “power pose” you might ask? Any pose that gets you “as big as possible” according to Dr. Cuddy. Spread your arms out. Prop your feet up on your desk. Put your arms behind your head. Widen your stance. In other words, the opposite of squeezing yourself tight and getting yourself small.
So, got a big meeting? Practice power poses first.
Second, consider what you are wearing. Dressing confidently matters. This one is a bit more tricky and subtle. As a general rule of thumb, consider both the situation and your own style. The sweet spot is finding a way to be professionally appropriate for the situation and to demonstrate some level of boldness while doing it. A client of mine shared with me this fantastic story. One of her mentors early on in her career was a female partner at a large consulting firm. This particular consulting firm, like many consulting firms, had an unspoken conservative uniform. Everyone essentially wore the same consulting attire. This partner would abide by the uniform (professional) but always had one thing on that thumbed its nose at the rigidity (bold). Sometimes it was a bright red scarf. Other times it was a pair of bright aqua heels. Whether it was the chicken or the egg is unclear, but people in the firm saw her as confident and bold. She had executive presence with clients and partners in the firm.
So, what am I saying? Go out and get that bold pair of shoes you’ve been wanting. Buy that new suit. Get that bold tie (I’m on a pocket square kick at the moment). Get your hair done differently. Get one bold element to bump up your confident appearance.
Combining professional attire with some boldness gets you confidence. And confidence gets you closer to executive presence and that gets you more opportunities.
Get posing and get shopping. Who can argue with that (spouses excluded of course)?