We all want to appear confident when we’re intimidated, but sometimes we find ourselves playing small.
How do you appear confident, and stay in control of your feelings and fears – WHATEVER THE SITUATION?
I had many years of being bullied, and was bullied both at school and in the workplace. I learned a thing or two about dealing with office bullies. Read on for confidence tips + tricks.
In my previous career in journalism and television, dealing with big egos went with the territory. As a young, and not so young reporter, I had to ask difficult questions to very senior people.
I once had to ask Tony Blair a question about the enquiry into the Iraq War, and his response was something like seeing Jekyll turn into Hyde – it was properly frightening.
In those situations you just HAVE to look confident – it’s a non-negotiable – otherwise you won’t find out what you need to know.
The way you stand, and how you carry your self – your physiology – is so important to putting yourself in the right frame of mind to successfully mirror the intimidating person.
Stand tall and breathe deeply and inhale fully into the lungs.
Studies show that at least 55 percent of our communication is non-verbal… so that means your posture and attitude really does shine through before you even open your mouth. Look up and ahead, it keeps those shoulders back and immediately gives off a confident, no messing attitude.
Often we’re so panicked we forget to breathe, or take these short breaths that don’t give us enough energy to finish a sentence, and get the blood pumping.
Breathe deeply, and your body will relax as it receives more oxygen, and you immediately feel more confident.
Remembering to pause and breathe will also help you to stay calm. When you are being logical, you are using the “thinking” part of the brain – the cortex, and this is great when you are calm and conscious.
But when things go wrong, in moments in stress, anxiety, fear, or panic, and our logical brain is overridden by our limbic brain, our “cave (wo)man” brain. This is the part of our brain that functions in times of stress and activates the “fear or flight” syndrome when we either stay and get hit by the oncoming car, or run.
Our cave woman ancestors used it successfully manoeuvre through life. The stress was a marauding animal about to attack us and our children, and our limbic brain would sense the danger and trigger adrenaline and we would RUUUUUUNNN!
Now our stress is that meeting that we are a bit intimidated by, or a problem at work, or a difficult boss. The stress is very real, and in the stressful situation, our cavewoman brain kicks in. This limbic brain operates in a prehistoric way, and isn’t as advanced as our logical cortex brain. Instead of rationally thinking things through, we panic, and we feel we either have to metaphorically pick up the stick to defend our self and the project, or we freeze and shrink before we have a chance to logically think about it.
MIRROR THEIR LANGUAGE:
Before you begin to shrink, remember to MIRROR the body language of the person who is intimidating you. When you mirror someone’s body language, they sub-consciously like you more, without them even realising.
By breathing deeply, you give yourself a moment to remain calm, and in the PRESENT. Staying in this space will enable you to put your best self forward, and give a non-verbal indicator to the bully that you’re not intimidated.
If you struggle with breathing, I find yoga really helps. It enables you to learn to breathe, and helps you to stay calm.
MAKE YOURSELF BIG:
If you have a big meeting, go to the toilet beforehand and make yourself as BIG AS POSSIBLE. By occupying as much space metaphorically, you feel bigger, and more confident. Just stretch out, and stand tall and say to yourself… I CAN DO THIS!!!
And when you’re in control, your body language will say: “don’t mess with me”, rather than “ooooh dear, let’s hide.”
When that intimidating person senses that this prey is not for taking, they will back off, and leave you alone.