I have a secret to tell you — I’m a voyeur. Not a “sit outside your house and watch you get dressed” type of voyeur, but the type that is obsessed with how you interact with new people… especially romantic interests. It is partly because of this trait that I created flow dating — speed dating meets dance-off meets pop culture and political trivia.
Flow dating is not only designed for good people to connect, it’s also my human fishbowl — to watch how people interact, see what is effective, and what’s not working.
In just 2 years time, I have facilitated over 10,000 speed dates and successfully matched nearly 3,000 people on first dates. While I’m happy with those numbers, what has been most rewarding for me personally has been analyzing the interactions of those men and women. I’ve had all ethnicities participate, they’ve come from all walks of life (religion, education, career, etc.), and despite that diversity, nearly 100% of attendees have agreed to one simple theory: confidence equals sex appeal which equals the fastest driver to attraction!
This single characteristic (confidence), is what I call the “great equalizer” because if you have it, it balances out less desired characteristics. For example, if you’re a woman who is overweight yet confident…you’re still #winning! Let’s say you’re a guy who is 5’5″ yet exudes confidence… you’re still #winning! Style worse than Flavor Flav, yet confident… you’re #winning (kinda…lol). You see my point though, confidence is sexy and if you have it, chances are, those that recognize you have it, will also find you attractive.
Here’s the GREAT news: After studying body language for sometime now, I can tell you that confidence is a learned behavior. Sure, some are naturals, but for the rest of us, learning confidence simply takes practice.
The following are my top 9 methods to convey confidence. Do these the next time you’re out at a social gathering and I guarantee people will walk away sensing your confidence!
1) Introduce Yourself by Name and Do It Slowly
I learned this in drama class waaaay back in the day. Always introduce your name like you’re reading it off a billboard in Times Square – do it very deliberately and paced: “Hi, I’m PAUL… CARRICK… BRUNSON” – pausing a full count between your first, middle (I recommend using your middle name, it’s another point of differentiation), and last name. Not to put too much pressure on this step, but these may be all the words you get out before a first impression is cemented in stone (typically, a first impression is made within 7 seconds of meeting someone). If you don’t treat your own name with respect and dignity, why should anyone else?
2) Ask For Their Name and Use It
There is no sweeter sound in the world than the sound of our name. This is a critical step. Ask for the person’s name (if not offered to you) and use it several times in conversation. I advise using a person’s name at least once every 10 minutes of dialogue.
3) Limit Your Smiles
I’m a huge “smile” advocate (#shoutout to my #nomeanmugginmonday crew), however, folks that don’t smile appear more confident…especially guys, it’s a fact. We tend to smile when we’re nervous or trying to hustle someone. So, does this mean stop smiling…no. What it does mean is, be strategic with your smiling. Flash those pearly whites only on occasion, when using the person’s name, when they tell a joke, or when you’re making a positive point.
4) Give a Firm Handshake and Touch, Periodically
I can’t tell you how much I hate it when someone gives me a soft shake (and if mixed with a clammy feel…yuck). A firm handshake is better than sex (not really, just wanted to see if you’re still paying attention). Firm handshakes are the best way to begin a strong connection with someone. A handshake also drops the first domino on “touching.” Touching is a powerful tool that when done right, can create a wonderful connection, but when done wrong, can make you seem sleazy and less confident. I recommend the 5/15 rule when touching; within 15 minutes I touch the person I’m talking to 5 times. The key is for each touch to be subtle and unpremeditated, not too serious or dramatic.
5) Never Look Down and Nod Appropriately
The saying goes “eyes are the windows to our souls.” If you limit eye contact because you’re looking away, you simply don’t look confident. Eye contact should be focused on the person with whom you’re talking. Be sure to mix in a few nods and eye blinks, otherwise you look like a stalker. The rule of thumb is that short single nods are most effective – it shows that you’re listening. Double or triple nods make it seem as if you’re trying to speed the person up… #NotWinning
6) Use the B.B.R. (Belly Button Rule)
This is my favorite rule and one I talk about in-depth at my coaching sessions – the B.B.R. otherwise known as the Belly Button Rule is the MOST TELLING and COMPELLING of all body language tactics. The direction our belly button faces reflects our attitude and our emotional state. When we face our navel towards someone, we’re subconsciously saying we’re interested in the person or the conversation. Face your navel away, and you’re saying “get me the hell out of this.” Most people do not know this rule, so learn it, master it, and you’ll be able to better read and control your interactions.
7) Stand In The Center
I must admit, this is something I consciously do. If you attend any of the events I host, you will witness me in action…I walk to the center of the room and talk to everyone from that position for most of the night (until the space around me turns into a dance floor and I slip into the Cha-Cha Slide). This applies to your macro and micro positioning – so if you’re having a conversation with 4 people, stand in the middle of the group. If the group is in a large room filled with people, encourage them to stand nearest to the center. The effectiveness of this is enormous, not only do the people in your immediate conversation naturally look to you as the “group leader,” additionally, people standing in the room, who glance at your group, will assume you are the center of attention (and you will be, literally).
8) Be Careful What You Do with Your Hands and Arms
In new situations, we instinctively want to put our hands in our pockets, or ladies, if you’re wearing a dress with no pockets, you may fumble with the lapel of your dress. Where you put your hands is very telling – stay away from crossing your arms, shoving hands in your pockets, or holding your hands in front of you (in what’s considered the fig leaf position). All of these display fear, anxiety, or caution – not signs of someone who is confident.
9) Leave The Conversation Early
This sounds very “pick-up artist-like” but it is what it is (note: I see tremendous value in studying pick-up artistry). When you end the conversation and walk away early, at your own discretion, this conveys that your time is limited, and you have other important things to do. This is especially effective when you were in a good conversation, it leaves the person wanting to hear more from you. This rule is particularly important when ladies “approach” men…when you leave men wanting more in a conversation, his chase begins!
The preceding are all tactics that you can use to immediately “appear” more confident. I challenge you to use all of these suggestions at your next social gathering and let me know how you feel you were perceived.