Warner Bros. Pictures
A confident man lands dates and conducts meetings with authority. (Think Bruce Wayne.) An insecure man seems to whisper, “Just ignore me—I make no impact.”
A confident man knows what he’s really worth and fearlessly negotiates his salary until an extra zero appears in his paycheck. An insecure man considers each biweekly deposit a minor miracle.
Every man has the potential to be either type of guy, and we highly recommend the former. “Confidence lets us project the assets we possess—competence, income, ambition—that people can’t see,” says evolutionary psychologist Sean Murphy, Ph.D.
These signals can be subtle and subconscious; you don’t always realize you’re sending them.
But even if you don’t naturally exude alpha qualities, a rapidly growing body of research is revealing how you can trick yourself into seeming invincible.
Read below and elevate your superpower with our three-step plan.
Step 1: Dress to Stand Out
Shy guys play it safe, and that’s a one-way ticket to mediocrity. Defy your style regulator by taking small risks, says Karen Pine, Ph.D., author of Mind What You Wear. As the compliments roll in (and they will), you’ll get the lift you need to express yourself in more dramatic ways.
Outclass the Competition
Dress one notch above the other guys. Clothes that verge on the formal side—like a suit for a regular team meeting—get you noticed. Attire is also associated with power, a recent California State University study found. And since power is linked to leadership and confidence, dressing up can instill those same traits in you, says study author Abraham Rutchick, Ph.D.
Finish with a Detail
Small touches—nothing too flashy—show that you know how to take care of yourself. Cuff links are too ubiquitous to garner a second look, says celebrity stylist Jacqui Stafford, author of The Wow Factor. For a nice date, add a modern touch instead, like monk strap shoes or a cool pocket square.
Find Your Uniform
Joining clubs that are meaningful to you comes with a privilege: a shot of self-esteem. That’s the conclusion of a recent PLOS One study. Whether it’s your alumni association or a local running crew, being part of a community with shared beliefs gives you a sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose, all of which bolster self-worth.
Perfect Your Scent
Wearing a scented deodorant can help boost your body image and self-assurance, a 2015 U.K. study suggests. The same goes for colognes and fragranced body sprays. “Pleasant aromas help you tune out negative self-image,” says study author Jorien van Paasschen, Ph.D. Just remember: Stick to no more than a spritz or two; a scent should accompany you, not precede you.
Show Your Badass Side
People feel stronger when they wear a Superman T-shirt, and report better focus when they put on a white lab coat, research has found. We subconsciously take on characteristics we associate with our clothes. Dress like Bond. Feel like Bond. For casual situations, buy a good leather jacket or boots. Whether you’re outgoing or low-key doesn’t matter; the classic association of leather and toughness will come across.
Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures
Step 2: Make the Right Moves
Even the world’s finest clothing won’t conceal the signals your body is sending, says Eliot Hoppe, the author of Everyone’s Guide to Body Language. Use this checklist to show you’re in total control.
Assume a Positive Posture
When standing or walking, keep your shoulders back and chin slightly up, says Hoppe. Face others directly; keep your arms open and expressive. When sitting, crossing your legs with one ankle atop the opposing thigh can make you feel more powerful, say Northwestern University researchers.
Strike This Pose
If you feel your poise starting to waver, assume a high-power pose: It can boost testosterone and lower stress hormone levels, a study from Columbia and Harvard found. These may supply the lift you need to appear in control. Here’s how to do it: Stand for a minute with your feet apart and hands on your hips. This expansive, open stance can buck you up and juice your courage. Try it now.
Be the Man in Motion
Gesturing shows conviction, says executive coach Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion. Just don’t point. That comes off as aggressive and can be seen as a sign of insecurity. Also, avoid fidgeting or touching your face, especially your lips or mouth, which suggests you’re unsure about what you’re saying or that you’re being dishonest. On the other hand, nodding while listening—not like a bobblehead but every now and then—signals empathy and agreement, according to Hoppe.
Make Yourself at Home
Trying to impress a coworker? Just as relaxed, open body language signals confidence when you’re standing, spreading your stuff out on the table at a meeting sends the message that you feel in control. One caveat: Don’t put your phone, coffee, and notepad directly in front of you. Moving items inward suggests you’re setting up a barrier because you’re anxious, Hoppe says. Instead, use the table’s real estate, creating a clear open line between you and others.
Perfect Your Handshake
Firmness is subjective. A good handshake is really about following the other person’s lead, Hoppe says, and this is especially true when it’s time to meet her old man. “People give you the same pressure they expect in return,” he explains. It’s also important to extend your hand vertically—not palm up or down, he says, which can be interpreted as submissive or dominant, respectively.
Do a Pre-Date Workout
Exercising on a regular basis makes you feel great about your body, a University of Florida meta-analysis suggests. So use that shot of postworkout confidence to your advantage by going for a run or hitting the gym the afternoon before your evening date. You’ll be that much happier with your body, and with any luck, your companion will too.
Step 3: Speak the Language
Specific words, and the way you say them, signal confidence. Use these cues to make your subtitles scream that you’re a winner.
Talk Yourself Up
Nervous? Give yourself a pep talk. In a U.K. study of male cyclists, those who engaged in motivational self-talk cut their 10K time by 4 percent—42 seconds on average. Thinking about your strengths and speaking to yourself using positive words can make formidable challenges seem less daunting, the study authors say.
When you do it, use your name or the pronoun “you,” not the first-person “I.” As in, “You’re going to walk right over there and ask Jennifer Lawrence to dinner.” Ditching first-person pronouns strengthens the force of your self-talk, which can better help you handle stressful situations, research shows. Pro tip: Don’t give your pep talk at a decibel level loud enough for Jennifer Lawrence to actually hear you.
Related: How To Increase Your Sex Appeal
Trim Your Hedges
Whether you’re speaking or writing, starting a statement with a disclaimer is a no-no, says Georgetown University linguist Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. Examples: “Maybe you already thought of this, but. . .” or “I know this is obvious, but. . .” You might as well begin with “I’m totally inept, so just tune me out.”
It’s fine—necessary, in fact—to add “just” or “only” in a phrase like “I’m just emailing to check in,” but avoid those words in a more serious context. “It’s just an idea” invites others to dismiss your suggestion. “Here’s an idea” will instantly carry more weight. Also, the more quickly and clearly you respond to questions, the more confident you sound.
Say You’re Sorry and Move On
Some men think apologising is a sign of weakness. But other people generally don’t see it that way. In fact, if you’re clearly wrong, a lack of contrition can be seen as a sign of insecurity, Tannen says.
So if you’re late for a date or you’ve somehow irked the waiter, don’t be afraid to fess up. Make it quick, say it confidently, and then—here’s the most important part—move on. Nothing looks more pathetic than a man who apologises endlessly.
By: Markham Heid