Confidence isn’t just about what we say, it’s also about how we say it. And often, our body language speaks louder than our words.
When we’re lacking in confidence, our body language can give us away, broadcasting our insecurities to the world without us even realizing it.
Understanding these body language cues can help us present ourselves in a more positive light. That’s why I’ve put together a list of nine common gestures that might be revealing your lack of confidence.
In this article, I’ll help you become more aware of your non-verbal cues and show you how to use them to your advantage.
Let’s dive in.
1) Closed body posture
A key giveaway of a lack of confidence is closed body posture.
When we’re feeling insecure or unsure, we tend to close off our body language. This might mean crossing your arms or legs, slouching, or making yourself smaller in some way.
The problem is, these gestures aren’t just signals to others about our level of confidence. They also impact how we feel about ourselves.
Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk on “power posing” discusses how adopting an open, expansive posture can actually make us feel more confident. It’s a classic case of “fake it till you make it”.
If you notice that you’re closing off your body language, try to consciously adopt a more open posture.
It might feel strange at first, but with practice, it can help boost your confidence – and change the way others perceive you.
Another tell-tale sign of a lack of confidence is fidgeting.
I remember vividly when I was giving a presentation at a conference for the first time. I was incredibly nervous, and without realizing it, I started to fidget with my hands. I was twisting my ring, adjusting my glasses, and touching my face repeatedly.
A close friend who was in the audience later told me about my fidgeting and how it signaled my nervousness to the entire room.
Fidgeting can be a distraction for others, drawing attention away from what you’re saying and focusing it on your nervous energy instead.
Whenever I have to speak in public, I make a conscious effort to keep my hands still and avoid unnecessary movements. It’s a small change, but it significantly impacts how confidently I come across.
3) Avoiding eye contact
Eye contact plays a critical role in human communication. It can indicate interest, attention, and yes, confidence.
When we avoid eye contact, it can signal to others that we’re feeling uncomfortable or insecure.
On the other hand, maintaining good eye contact signifies that we’re engaged and confident.
But here’s something you might not know: in a typical conversation, people maintain eye contact about 30% to 60% of the time. Anything less can come across as avoidance, signaling a lack of confidence.
When you’re in a conversation, try to consciously maintain good eye contact. It’s a powerful way to show your confidence and keep people engaged.
4) Fast talking
Ever noticed how your speech tends to speed up when you’re nervous or unsure of yourself? That’s another giveaway of a lack of confidence.
When we feel anxious, our heart rate increases, and so does our speech. We start to talk faster in an attempt to get through the situation quickly.
However, fast speech can be hard for others to follow and can give the impression that you’re not calm and confident.
To counteract this, try to slow down your speech. Practice deep breathing before a presentation or difficult conversation to calm your nerves. Remember, it’s not a race – take your time to articulate your thoughts clearly and confidently.
5) Hiding hands
Our hands can say a lot about us, especially when it comes to confidence. When we’re feeling unsure or nervous, we tend to hide our hands – maybe in our pockets or behind our backs.
This gesture can signal to others that you’re uncomfortable or have something to hide. It’s a primal instinct, dating back to when showing open hands was a sign of honesty and non-aggression.
Showing your hands, on the other hand, suggests that you’re open and confident. So, try to keep your hands visible when you’re speaking or interacting with others. It’s a simple change that can significantly impact how others perceive your confidence level.
6) Lowered head
One of the most universal signs of a lack of confidence is a lowered head. It’s a gesture that can make you appear defeated or submissive.
I think we’ve all had those moments where the weight of the world seems too much, and it physically weighs us down. Our heads drop, our shoulders slump, and we radiate a lack of self-belief.
But remember, it’s okay to have moments of doubt. The key is to not let those moments define us.
When you catch yourself with your head down, lift it up. Stand tall. Remind yourself of your worth and let your body language reflect that. Confidence starts within, but how we carry ourselves can reinforce that inner strength.
7) Covering your mouth
Covering your mouth while speaking, whether it’s with your hand or a piece of clothing, can indicate a lack of confidence. It’s as if we’re trying to hide our words, or we’re uncertain about sharing our thoughts.
I’ll confess, I used to do this a lot. Whenever I was in a meeting or around people I perceived as more successful than me, I’d unconsciously bring my hand up to my mouth while speaking.
Over time, I realized that this gesture was a physical manifestation of my fear of being judged or criticized. It took some effort, but I began to consciously lower my hand and let my words flow uninhibited.
Now, I remind myself that my voice and ideas are just as valuable as anyone else’s. And you know what? No one has the right to make you feel like they’re not.
8) Constant apologizing
While this isn’t a physical gesture, it’s a verbal habit that can strongly signal a lack of confidence: over-apologizing.
Saying sorry when you’ve done something wrong is a sign of empathy and responsibility. However, if you find yourself apologizing for things that aren’t your fault or for simply expressing your opinion, it might indicate that you’re lacking confidence in yourself and in your ideas.
Over-apologizing can give others the impression that you’re unsure of your worth or value. It’s important to stand by your ideas and beliefs, and to express them confidently without feeling the need to apologize.
Remember, it’s okay to take up space and have a voice. Don’t apologize for being you.
9) Shrinking yourself
One of the most telling signs of a lack of confidence is shrinking yourself – both physically and metaphorically.
Physically, this might mean hunching over, slouching, or trying to take up as little space as possible. Metaphorically, it could mean holding back your thoughts, ideas, or contributions because you’re unsure of their value.
But here’s the thing: You have every right to take up space, to share your ideas, and to be seen and heard. Confidence isn’t something that some people are born with and others aren’t – it’s a skill that can be learned and cultivated.
So stand tall. Speak up. Believe in your worth. And let your body language reflect the confident person you are capable of being.
Final thoughts: It’s all about self-awareness
When it comes to confidence, understanding your body language is half the battle.
These nine gestures are just some of the ways our insecurities can manifest themselves. But remember, everyone has moments of self-doubt. The key is not to eliminate these moments, but to recognize them for what they are and transform them into opportunities for growth.
Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”. This curiosity should also extend to ourselves and our behaviors.
So the next time you catch yourself fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, or shrinking yourself – pause. Reflect on what’s happening internally. Use that awareness as a stepping stone towards confidence.
Because ultimately, confidence isn’t about convincing others of your worth. It’s about convincing yourself.
And with self-awareness and a bit of courage, that’s a journey we’re all capable of embarking on.