10 body language tricks to appear calm and confident in stressful situations

Some people thrive in stressful situations, but not me. I hate them, and I’m doing whatever I can to avoid them most of the time. 

Sure, you should step out of your comfort zone from time to time to reap the rewards such situations can present, but that doesn’t make them any easier. 

If you’re anything like me, you want to do everything you can to hide your nervousness in front of others. 

Over the years, I’ve learned many tricks that help me accomplish just that. 

So, if you want to learn body language tricks to appear calm and confident in stressful situations, keep on reading. 

1) Strike a power pose

You might have already heard about this one, but that’s because it’s so effective. It’s striking a power pose when you’re alone before a stressful event. 

The only problem with it is that you need to actually remember to do it. 

That’s harder than you think when you have other things to think about when under stress. And that’s why I now do it every morning as part of my routine.

But what does this look like? Well, you just stand tall with your hands on your hips or raised in victory. It might sound a bit superhero-ish, but research suggests it can boost confidence and reduce stress. 

You can even do this sitting down. 

Incredibly, high-power posers revealed an 8% boost in testosterone, while low-power posers had a 10% drop.

So, adopting power poses for as little as two minutes could lead to an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. And that’s amazing. 

2) A genuine smile can ease tension and make you look more approachable

A smile can work wonders in stressful situations. It not only eases tension but also makes you approachable. Just make sure it’s genuine – people can usually tell when a smile is forced.

But what’s behind this magic? 

A genuine smile emits a positive and welcoming energy. When you smile, it sends a signal that you’re open to interaction. This positive vibe can quickly diffuse tension in a situation.

A smile also transcends language barriers and conveys warmth and friendliness without the need for words. 

In stressful situations, where you somewhat have issues with verbal communication, a smile can bridge gaps and create a more positive atmosphere.

3) Avoid fidgeting and make deliberate movements

We see fidgeting as a sign of nervousness or uncertainty. On the contrary, deliberate movements express confidence and control. 

So, when you make purposeful gestures, it signals to others that you are composed and sure of yourself.

Instead of nervously fidgeting or making rapid movements, aim for slow and purposeful gestures.

You’ll give off an air of calmness and thoughtfulness. Imagine you’re conducting an orchestra with your movements, not participating in a speed race.

A maestro also reinforces the points in the music arrangement that are supposed to pop: 

4) Reinforce your points with meaningful movements

When you gesture, make it count. Let your movements emphasize your points. It adds weight to your words and keeps you from looking scattered or unsure. 

Think of it as a way to visually underline your message.

When your gestures align with your words, it creates a more cohesive and memorable experience for your audience or the person you’re talking to. 

Plus, visual cues can help people better understand and retain information.

5) Subtly mimic the body language of those around you

Ever notice how friends tend to mimic each other’s movements? That’s mirroring. You often subconsciously copy the body language of those around you because it creates a subconscious connection and makes people feel more at ease in your presence.

But it goes further than that because mirroring also creates a feeling of similarity and shared understanding. 

When you subtly mimic someone’s body language, it signals that you’re on the same wavelength, boosting a connection and building rapport. 

Amazing, right?

For me, the most important aspect of it is this:

When people perceive you as being similar to them, they become more receptive to your ideas or suggestions.

In persuasive communication, this is a subtle but effective tool. 

6) Control your breathing

toxic work environment 10 body language tricks to appear calm and confident in stressful situations

Deep breaths are like a secret weapon against stress. Inhale slowly, hold for a moment and then exhale. 

I started doing this regularly a couple of years ago, and I can attest that it works wonders. 

It’s a simple technique that not only calms your nerves but also projects a composed image to others. Plus, it’s discreet and won’t draw too much attention.

I now use it for all sorts of things, like a helping hand to falling asleep at night, calming down after going all out when exercising, and similar. 

7) Speak slowly and clearly to project confidence and control

Rapid-fire speech can make you appear anxious. Instead, take a moment to gather your thoughts and speak at a measured pace. 

It not only helps you articulate better but also gives the impression that you’re in control of the situation.

This has always been an issue I was battling with. I would come out of the gate speeding, and that would make me incoherent and seem less professional.

Now, that’s not a problem when you’re with your friends, but at work, it’s a bit annoying. 

I’m much more collected now, and I think I can convey my message much better than before. 

8) Stand or sit up straight to appear confident

Stand or sit up straight, like you have an invisible string pulling you up from the top of your head. 

This not only helps you appear more confident, but it also feels empowering. Slouching, on the other hand, might make you seem less sure of yourself.

But why is that? 

Standing or sitting up straight increases your physical presence. It makes you appear more noticeable and commands attention, signaling to others that you’re confident and self-assured.

In professional settings, maintaining good posture is linked to a professional and polished image. 

It transmits a level of seriousness and competence, important qualities in many professional environments.

But there’s also this to think about:

9) Lean in subtly

Leaning in subtly can be a valuable addition to your body language repertoire, complementing the confidence communicated through good posture.

With this, you’re showing alertness and a genuine desire to understand the speaker’s perspective.

It can be especially effective when discussing important or meaningful topics, as it shows you’re emotionally invested in the conversation.

Also, think about leaning in at specific moments to emphasize important points in your communication. 

It adds emphasis to your words, making your message more impactful and memorable. 

Leaning in subtly during a conversation doesn’t necessarily require more physical space. But you should strongly think about using more of it to appear confident. 

10) Use your space

Occupy the space around you confidently. Don’t shy away or make yourself small. It doesn’t mean being too dominant but simply taking up the space you deserve in a room or during a discussion.

Now, if you’re male, I’m not talking about manspreading here. That would be too much and, frankly, gross. 

I’m talking about moving comfortably and occupying more space on the stage, for instance.  

Have you ever thought about why leaders and managers have such huge offices? It reflects a sense of authority and contributes to a leadership presence.

So, if you can, arrange your workspace in a way that optimizes the use of available space to create a sense of organization and control.

Should you address your nervousness directly?

After all that’s said, you still need to be as authentic and comfortable in your own skin as possible. 

These tricks can help you camouflage your stress, but you probably won’t fool an experienced listener. 

In that case, it might be better to address your nervousness outright. This will humanize you and make you more relatable. 

It can also help release some tension and set a more casual tone for the conversation. For example, if you’re meeting new people in a social setting, subtly acknowledging nervousness can be a conversation starter.

Ultimately, you need to estimate the formality of the setting and act accordingly. In highly formal situations, such as certain business meetings or official presentations, addressing nervousness may not be as appropriate.

Adrian Volenik

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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