I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard about the importance of first impressions. Whether it be walking into the job interview, meeting a prospective client, or giving a presentation to a group of people (even virtually!). How you walk into the room, make eye contact, the tone of your voice, and how well you listen, can all have a huge impact on creating a positive first impression. When you have self-confidence, the vibe you give off makes people feel at ease because they believe you know what you are doing. No one wants to hire someone or work with someone who makes them question whether or not they’ll be able to do what they say they are going to do.

Potential attackers use these same observation techniques to select their victim, but in reverse. They are looking for someone who doesn’t appear to have self-confidence. Someone who is distracted or looks afraid. Attackers do not want to select someone who looks like they will make noise to alert others or someone who gives off the vibe, “not me, not today”.

So, you’ve committed to carrying yourself with confidence, but what exactly does that mean? Here are 10 tips that apply to your career AND your personal safety.

  1. Know your strengths

When you know your strengths, it builds your confidence. If you’re not sure what your top strengths are, ask 5 people who truly know you and who you respect. A great resource that you can use to self-evaluate your strengths is taking a CliftonStrengths online assessment. Are you really good at reading body language? Practice guessing the mood of people you see as you go about your day. Consider this your excuse to people watch!

  1. Work on your appearance

How you walk and the way you dress not only makes a first impression on others, it can affect how you feel about yourself too. Whether at work or going out in a social setting, when your clothes fit perfectly and the whole outfit feels Pinterest worthy, you feel confident. Start with investing in at least one custom tailored outfit made specifically for you. Make sure you can move freely and comfortably.

  1. Be aware of your weaknesses

Having self-confidence means being aware of your weak points too. When someone refuses to acknowledge traits they need to work on, their work and personal relationships suffer. You cannot grow and improve yourself if you refuse to acknowledge your weaknesses.

  1. Move your body

Choose a physical activity you enjoy and do it on a regular basis. Don’t quit before you start because you’ve “never been the athletic type”. Take an honest self-assessment of your current physical state and pick one thing to do every day to improve it. Maybe it’s walking to the mailbox instead of grabbing the mail out your car window. Maybe it’s setting a regular walking date with a friend instead of meeting somewhere to sit and talk.

  1. Practice good communication

Being able to communicate effectively is crucial in both your work and personal life. Understand your emotions and where they come from, be able to articulate your feelings clearly and concisely, and practice active listening. If you have a different opinion on how to solve a problem at work, speak up and share your idea. If someone is bothering you because they are saying something inappropriate or standing too close to you, stay calm and speak up.

  1. Relax

Take deep breaths when you start to feel nervous or stressed. Do a power pose, take 5 seconds to remind yourself of your strengths, and stop overthinking all the possible outcomes of a situation. Focus on what you can control- you and your actions. Worrying about whether your presentation will be well received before you log on to the Zoom call will only hinder you. You may appear nervous and your voice might shake. That is not the first impression you want to give. When you are walking to your car after work or running errands, stay off your phone and scan your environment. Even better, have a flashlight in your hand and use it, especially after dark.

  1. Eyes up

Look people in the eyes when you meet them. It lets them know your attention is focused on being present with them. They will feel seen and heard and be much more receptive to listening to what you have to say too. It is not a staring contest though! If you are starting to work on making eye contact with people, look at the bridge of their nose. When you walk down the street, look around at others in your area. Potential attackers do not want you to see them approach. If you make even brief eye contact with them, they know you’ve seen them. You have just told them you’re confident in knowing who and what is in your environment and they won’t have the element of surprise.

  1. Stand tall

Your body language sends an especially important message to others. That’s why the power pose works so well. This is not a superficial tip! Straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back, and keep your head up. Plus, your chiropractor will be happy with your improved posture.

  1. Listen to your intuition

All your senses are constantly taking in information and feeding that information to your subconscious. When your subconscious decides something deserves more attention, it sends a signal to your consciousness via intuition. There are many ways your intuition will communicate with you and it’s not always with fear. Sometimes it’s a nagging suspicion you’ll be working late because you overheard co-workers talking about a problem they’ve discovered. Start paying attention to what your intuition is telling you about little things. The better you understand your intuition signals, the more confidence you’ll have in trusting the signals will come through for the big things.

  1. Remember that building your self-confidence takes time

Everyone has struggled with their self-confidence at some point in their life. It’s not just you! Start building your confidence by picking one habit to practice every day. As you get better at the one habit, let the sense of accomplishment propel you to take the next step.

No matter who you are or where you are starting from, you can do this. By using your fears as motivation to better yourself, you build resilience too. You know you have overcome challenges in the past, and you will overcome challenges in the future. When you carry yourself with that knowledge, you will shine with confidence.

“Use action to cure fear and gain confidence.”

-David Schwartz, Magic of Thinking Big