It’s so good to be back in the swing of things with a writing post, especially one that adds to the Let’s Write Series. Now, I see you doing a double take there. Didn’t this used to be called the writing emotions series? It did, but then I had so many ideas to add to the series, and some of them aren’t emotions.
Like confidence. Not an emotion, rather a state of mind. You can choose to be confident even if you’re not–or so I’ve been told. Confidence isn’t my forte.
Before we begin, confidence and arrogance aren’t necessarily the same thing, though confident and arrogant characters might share certain facial expressions, body language, and habits.
Google defines confidence as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities, which means confidence comes down to effective control of fear. Confident characters are open to other characters and won’t feel threatened by them, and may not even feel threatened in chaotic or dangerous situations. On the flipside, over-confidence or false confidence can lead to underestimating the danger.
The most important thing to remember is that confident characters don’t judge their self-worth by the standards of other people. They are comfortable in their own bodies, trust in their own skill, and usually want other people to share that level of confidence. Their body language will almost always be welcoming, except if a bit of arrogance has crept into their personalities.
More on that below.
Confident Body Language and Speech
- This isn’t really related to body language or speech, but is important. Confident people tend to take a lot of care with their appearance. They know that looking their best influences how people perceive them, and will always try to create a good, lasting first impression. A confident character will wear clothes that fit well, have been ironed, and create a cohesive finished look. Their hair and nails will be neat, and they’ll probably wear a nice scent. That doesn’t necessarily mean vanity, so they might not be as primped, on fleek, or insta-ready as a teenage beauty queen.
- Related to the first point, a character trying to seem more confident might up their appearance game, and exchange their sneakers and jeans for something more formal or tailored.
- A character who wants to avoid people by seeming so confident that they’re clearly superior or unreachable (AKA a little arrogant) might try to look their best by wearing only the best. Think brands and expensive accessories. This character will certainly be on fleek and insta-ready too, and this will most probably also influence the decor in their homes. Some wealthy or influential characters dress to separate themselves from the masses, like CEO’s, high-ranking politicians, deans at universities, attorneys, etc.
- Confident characters are comfortable in their own skin. These characters probably have no qualms about those things other characters might perceive as bodily imperfections, and could be just as happy in the nude as when wearing a killer power suit.
- This comfort-factor is important in basically every aspect of a confident character’s personality. They will take care to seem comfortable in most situations or places, from ballrooms to slums, talking and listening to others.
- Confident characters are usually physically still. They don’t fidget, don’t shuffle feet, and could maintain a fairly motionless standing or sitting position where other characters will shift around.
- Their movements are more controlled and slower than what other characters might use. Confident characters are deliberate. They want to seem in control, even when they’re not, so they don’t waste movement or words.
- This might be especially true in chaotic situations, when confident characters will likely be the ones to slow down and take the lead. For example, trauma surgeons who are able to operate under pressure, completely calm when people around them are going to pieces, or even police officers who have to enter high-risk scenarios to save other lives, while risking their own.
- It’s important to note that not all characters are equal, and even confident characters can go to pieces when faced with scary situations. The powerful CEO’s wife may be a high-profile socialite and could be deathly afraid of spiders and bugs, but when the armed robbers enter their house, he might be the one freaking out while she takes the lead. People react in strange ways in the face of fear.
- Open body language. Confident characters don’t typically cross their arms or ankles when standing. Instead, their legs will be straight, arms by their sides, and they’ll face the person they’re communicating with so they seem open and approachable.
- As another measure of openness, these characters might subtly mimic the behaviour of other characters. Mimicry puts people at ease, and creates a level of trust even when meeting someone for the first time. A successful salesperson will definitely use mimicry to help sell their product, for example.
- Confident characters might also use touch as a tool to make others feel at ease. A pat on the back, a touch to the elbow, that kind of thing. The character who uses confidence as a way to keep others away will probably avoid touch, where an arrogant character will press too hard, or slap instead of pat to show their dominance.
- Good posture. Looking down or slouching are signs of insecurity, so confident characters will maintain a straight back and square shoulders. They’ll probably also have a slightly raised chin.
- Just watch out–a chin raised too high, or shoulders pulled too far back could seem arrogant.
- When sitting, confident characters will also maintain their good posture. Some confident characters do still cross their legs when sitting, but since these characters don’t move around a lot, no knee bouncing or shaking feet. They may also take care to stand without bowing forward to do so, since bowing is submissive behaviour. If your character is trained to seem confident in all situations or is arrogant, this might be the kind of thing they’d consider.
- Since they don’t waste movement, confident characters take strong, large strides when they walk. No shuffling, right? They still move at a steady speed. These characters want to seem in control, and being in control means not having to rush.
- Confident hands are open palmed, sometimes with the fingers held together. These characters might avoid pointing, because that can be seen as aggressive, and will keep their hands out in the open–many characters hide their hands instinctively when they’re anxious or afraid.
- Firm handshakes. Arrogant characters may hold a handshake longer than is necessary, to show their dominance.
- A confident character might only use hand motions to emphasise something important, especially when in situations where they have to win people over–for example, giving a presentation at a meeting where the COE will be present, or a king trying to inspire his troops. At the same time, comfortable characters tend to speak with their hands, so a confident character might instinctively motion when they speak.
- An arrogant character might use bigger motions, to emphasise their power.
- When speaking, a confident character will stutter less, and use fewer uhms and ahs. The slower, more deliberate way in which they move will also translate to their speech, so what they say will be more concise and better thought out.
- When giving instruction, they’ll use firm language, typically articulated in a way that makes the meaning clear.
- Speaking with authority. They know what they’re talking about.
- They might also use more positive language, since they believe in themselves and their own ability. When they’re aware of their own shortcomings (confident characters often are) they’ll use the same positive language to inspire characters with different strengths.
- The will probably be more willing to admit to mistakes, and will definitely use every setback as a learning opportunity.
- These characters may give their opinion freely. Since they don’t feel threatened by others, they might not even realise that the advice or opinion they’ve given might hurt another character’s feelings, especially when it comes to insecurities.
- Again, the flip side could be true, and their life experience could make them more aware of how other characters feel. I’ve personally met many confident people who didn’t want to give an opinion, even when prompted, for fear of hurting someone else.
- They might pause more than other characters. A pause is a sign that a character is thinking about what the other character has said, and is formulating an answer, but could also be a tool with which to help other characters. For example, if a character allows another character to see how they make something, then pauses, they allow a moment for the other character to ask about what they’ve just seen.
- While other characters might use a higher or lower pitch when in dangerous or chaotic situations, confident characters–especially those taking the lead–will probably use soothing tones. They want to seem completely in control, and as a part of that, they’ll try to keep everyone else calm too.
- The arrogant character will use their speech as a way of putting others in their place. The tone and word choice may still be similar to that used by confident characters, but a level of sarcasm can creep in.
- Confident people maintain eye contact, but it remains friendly and open. Arrogant characters might stare.
- A light smile or smirk, often used. Since these characters have a firm handle on their fear, they have nothing to worry about and it shows. A smile is also a sign of openness.
- Relaxed facial muscles. Resting bitch face isn’t confident or welcoming, and your character will know this. 🙂
- Since confident people tend to mimic, they might even mirror elements of the expressions used by the people around them.
What Confidence Feels Like
- Being enough. Good enough, strong enough, smart enough, whatever.
- Knowing who you are as a person, undefined by job titles or other people.
- Free, because you’re not held back by the standards set by others.
- Being able to handle whatever happens next. Focused, prepared.
- There’s no need to worry about what needs to be done in the future, only the task at hand is important.
- There is still fear, confidence doesn’t mean the inability to feel fear, but there’s a greater level of emotional control.
- Being aware of personal weaknesses, and the ability to delegate tasks to others who are stronger in those specific areas.
- Since a great deal of confidence comes from experience, the ability to rely on past experiences and learn from them.
- Muscle memory takes care of tasks we do well, and know we do well.
- Pride and self-validation when something goes according to plan.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have anything to add, please feel free to do that in the comments. The same goes for any requests or ideas for this series. I love hearing from you!
Until next time.