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Ooze confidence, not arrogance – here’s how

Ooze confidence, not arrogance – here’s how

Ooze confidence, not arrogance – here’s how

Socially, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but how do you strike that perfect balance and convey confidence? New research offers some insight.

Confidence is the belief in one’s self and one’s ability to succeed. Arrogance is an exaggerated sense of one’s own abilities. Striking a balance between too much and too little confidence can be a challenge. Too much and you can be labeled as arrogant and overestimate your abilities. Too little and you can constantly shy away from opportunities that you feel you aren’t capable of.

New research from the University of Notre Dame shows how people can reap the rewards of confidence, without risking the social penalties for overconfidence. The research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals an accountability loophole – a way for people to enhance their confidence without risking punishment for overconfidence. It shows that expressing confidence nonverbally through making eye contact, gesturing, adopting an expansive posture or speaking in a strong voice allows people to enjoy the social benefits of expressing confidence while simultaneously reducing the risk they’ll be punished for overconfidence.

The researchers conducted a series of experiments in which participants met potential collaborators or advisers and decided which – the confident or cautious – they trusted and wanted to work with most. On average, they strongly preferred the confident candidate; however, once they learned that person was overconfident, the cautious person won. “Interestingly, though, we found that if the overly confident candidates expressed their confidence nonverbally, they remained the most trusted and desirable choice, even when revealed to be over-the-top,” commented Nathan Meikle, postdoctoral research and teaching associate in the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

Body movements, facial expressions, how you dress and the sound of your voice are all nonverbal cues that can convey confidence. Ways you can convey confidence, without coming across as arrogant are:

  • Good eye contact
  • Be mindful of personal space      
  • Genuine smile
  • Stand up tall and straight
  • Slightly lean your body towards the person you are listening to as it demonstrates active listening.
  • Be well groomed with good hygiene, including neat nails and fresh breath
  • Have a confident handshake
  • Give conversations your full attention
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