Meeting new people at college is a common occurrence. You are constantly networking, interacting with new classmates, introducing yourself to recruiters at job fairs and building relationships with professors. Feeling nervous during these interactions is completely normal and something everyone experiences. Here is some advice for being more confident during conversations.
Focus on your body language
The nonverbal cues you give off first impact how others perceive you. So, if you don’t feel confident, act like it. Fake it till you make it. There are many different ways to do this. Start with fixing your posture and lifting your head. By standing strong and keeping eye contact with the person you are talking with, you look much more sure of yourself and start to feel it too. Remember to keep the rest of your body relaxed and take deep breaths. By calming the body, the mind follows, allowing you to process information without having intrusive thoughts.
Stay in the moment
When discussing a topic of conversation, especially if it is one you are interested in, it is easy to lose track of your original point. Tangents and asides during conversations are a sign that you may be nervous or trying to fill conversational space. Focus on what is relevant. It is also easy to worry about what to say next, which distracts you from what the other person is trying to communicate. With these thoughts, you are not giving the speaker your full attention, making it difficult to be an active participant and conversationalist. Slow down your thoughts and focus on what the speaker is saying. This makes it easier to be present, understand what is being communicated and engage in the conversation.
Acknowledge that silence is not awkward
There is a stigma around the idea of “awkward silence” and how quiet moments in conversations are a sign that it is going poorly. Instead of filling the space, focus on other ways to stay engaged. Recheck your posture, take a deep breath and relax your expression. Accepting the pause in conversation will change the overall perspective of the silence from awkward to relaxing. Odds are the other person is also trying to come up with something to say. Just remember not to fill this silence with unnecessary banter. Stick to the topic at hand and accept that silence is just a way for both parties to collect their thoughts to keep conversing with each other.
Be your authentic self
You are who you are and no one knows your history. Although you may feel like you stand out in a certain way in a social setting, odds are you are not the only one. Avoid looking too serious or tense; instead, relax your face muscles and let your true expressions show your authenticity. Don’t worry about the things you don’t know, ask questions and absorb the answer. Addressing your lack of expertise on a topic but your eagerness to understand, shows you are confident in your knowledge and your ability to learn more. By diving into your own life and your curiosity, you create chances to make connections with others and have more intimate conversations. By being your most authentic self you will feel comfortable in conversations and more confident.
Confidence is a mindset that anyone can achieve! Just don’t forget to relax your body and be yourself, the rest will come naturally. Good luck in all your future conversations, you got this.
Written by: Gabrielle White