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Tricks for Women Who Want Just the Right Amount of Confidence

Businesswoman talking on cell phone in city

Most women believe that confidence is something you can acquire with time and training, that it’s not something you have to be born with. Still, most women can also quickly call to mind those frustrating moments when someone defeated their confidence, like a critical supervisor or a leader who micromanages. Nothing deflates your efficacy quite like the overpowering presence of someone hovering, pointing out what’s wrong, and calling out your errors. On the flipside, many women face the opposite problem, and they approach situations with a heightened sense of confidence that can translate as arrogance. Sometimes, we need to tone it down a bit.

In her book, How Women Decide: What’s True, What’s Not, and What Strategies Spark the Best Choices, Therese Huston discusses the Confidence Advantage women have. Here are Therese’s tips for turning up – or toning down – the confidence dial in tricky situations.

Lower the pitch of your voice. You don’t need to whisper, because you still want people to hear you, but lowering the pitch of your voice can go a long way a greater sense of power and confidence. Within five minutes of starting to speak in a lower tone, people experience a boost in their confidence and their problem-solving abilities. Sometimes lowering your pitch can be just the confidence boost you need, and the effects are contagious. People tend to prefer listening to lower voices. Huston’s research revealed that people expect women with higher voices to be sexier and more physically attractive, but they expect women with lower voices to make better leaders and be more competent and trustworthy. When it comes to leadership, people prefer competence over sexiness, so lower your voice and own the room.

Change your posture. Huston invites you to take a quick inventory of how you’re sitting right now. “Are your arms resting on your body? Is your hand touching your face or your neck? Are your legs crossed demurely at the ankles or perhaps even tucked beneath you? Although I have to admit that all of these sound comfortable and natural to me, these would also be called low-power poses.” She explains that in a low-power pose, your body takes up less space and your arms and legs are close to your body. In contrast, a high-power pose literally takes up more space, spreads out, and seems to say, “I’m here, and I’m in charge.” Lean back, put your hands behind your head, elbows out. Better yet, stand up, place your hands squarely on your hips, with your feet about eighteen inches apart. Claim the stance of Wonder Woman, and you’ll actually begin to feel more confident, powerful and in charge.

But what happens if you’re on the other side of the spectrum, and your confidence isn’t hitting the mark? In the name of a well-balanced approach, Huston recommends strategies for the overconfident girl as well.