We've all done it.
Walking down the street TRYING to look confident… and WORRYING that you don't.
That other men – and women – see you as weak.
Bad news: if you're making these 10 mistakes… they do.
Good news: there's a science to walking with confidence. I've read the studies and I'm here to give you 10 amazing tips.
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Walk With Confidence – Mistake #1: Looking Down
When you look down you look weak. You want to look at least straight forwards and possibly even a bit higher. Raise up that chin.
‘Hanging your head' is a universal sign of shame. Maybe you're just fascinated by the cracks in the sidewalk, but passers-by don't know that – and neither does your own body. All it knows is that you're in a ‘closed', self-protective, low-power position.
A 2010 study by researchers from Harvard and Columbia showed that closed body language actually lowers your testosterone, raises the stress hormone cortisol, and makes you feel less powerful.
Open body language, like holding your head high, does the opposite. So walking confidently not only makes you LOOK confident – it creates a biofeedback loop between the mind and the body that makes you FEEL confident.
#2: Duck Feet
The next mistake men make is walking with their feet too close together or with their toes pointing out. This might point towards a deeper problem with your posture, structure, or weight – or it might just be a habit.
You've heard the saying ‘practice makes perfect' – not true. Practice makes permanent.
So if you've been practicing bad walking habits, they'll have stuck. But if you start practicing good ones, they'll stick too. Pay attention and spread your heels out a bit.
I'm not talking about extremes – I'm talking about finding what works for you and noticing when something's a bit off. I highly recommend you videotape yourself. Look at the way you walk normally and then look to make some corrections.
#3: No Eye Contact
If you avert your eyes as soon as someone else is coming your way, you look weak. No need to stare aggressively – just make eye contact, and maybe give a nod.
If you make eye contact with a woman, hold it for a second or two. Maybe give her a wink. Have fun. But remember – you don't want to hold eye contact with a strange woman for more than 2 seconds, or you start to look creepy.
If time loses all meaning when you meet her eyes, try counting 1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi so you know when 2 seconds are up. Just don't say it out loud.
#4: Hunching Your Shoulders
You don't hunch your shoulders – right?
Before you answer, try the pencil trick. Hold a pencil in each fist and stand the way you normally do, with your arms by your sides.
Do the pencils point straight forwards? If so, congratulations – you don't hunch your shoulders. The rest of you may be a little shocked… especially if you work a desk job.
Hunching forwards says, ‘I'm trying to minimize the amount of space I'm taking up.'
In other words – you look weak. Get those shoulders back, put that chest out, and walk with confidence.
To help retrain your posture, try some exercises. One of the simplest is called ‘wall angels' – it's like snow angels on a wall.
Stand with your back to a wall, hands by your sides, and touch the wall with your fingertips. Now try to raise your arms above your head WITHOUT letting your fingers, head, back, or butt leave the wall. It's harder than it sounds.
#5: No Shoulder Swagger
Don't be afraid to sway your shoulders when you walk. If you're not sure what I mean, watch Daniel Craig walking out of the sea in Casino Royale. With each step, the shoulder on the same side moves slightly down and back.
A 2007 study out of New York University found that men who walk with a shoulder swagger more than DOUBLE their perceived attractiveness.
We're also more likely to sway our shoulders when we know we're being watched by women. Why? Because it signals confidence. It makes you look built up.
If you're not as buff as you'd like, give nature a hand by wearing a sports jacket or a leather jacket with some shoulder padding. It'll exaggerate your silhouette so whenever you walk you'll look stronger and more confident.
#6: Hands In Pockets
Don't put your hands in your pockets. Again, it's going to hunch the shoulders and make you look more submissive.
This gentleman has a sharp outfit and a confident stride – but he's letting himself down by shoving his hands in his pockets and staring at the ground. Look how hunched his shoulders are. Now imagine him with his head up, back straight, and arms swinging freely by his sides… see the difference?
Having your hands visible brings a number of advantages. People trust you more when they can see your hands.
It also means you look – and ARE – ready for action. If it came to fight or flight, you could quickly raise your hands to defend yourself.
#7: Being Tense
You get nervous, tighten up your hands into a fist, and barely move your arms as you're walking around. If you have to do something really anxiety-inducing like walking on stage to give a speech, you literally do not move your arms. Now everyone can see how anxious you are.
A lot of men don't notice when they're doing this. Make a conscious effort to relax your arms and hands and let them move.
#8: Walking Too Slowly
This one shocked me. I'm a slow walker myself and I never saw this as a bad thing. But…
A 1995 study out of the Journal of Ethology and Sociobiology found that, on average, if a man walked faster he was perceived as higher status.
When I looked at the research I found that it's a combination of a number of the things we talked about. So if you're putting your hands in your pockets, slouching forward, looking down, and walking slowly – that's the walk of a low-status man with no confidence, nothing special to do, and nowhere special to be.
So it's about finding that happy medium. If you're perceived as a slow walker, maybe speed it up just a bit and see what happens.
#9: Walking Behind People
If you're hanging out with the Queen, protocol dictates that you walk behind her to defer power and respect.
Most of us are not walking with the Queen – and we DON'T want to defer power.
So make sure you walk beside the people you're with, and if you're expected to lead a group then you walk out in front.
Walking behind people says, ‘You're ahead of me.'
#10: Taking Small Steps
Again, practice makes permanent. A lot of people have just gotten used to taking smaller steps.
This isn't about leg length – I'm not asking shorter guys to take the same strides as big guys. I'm talking about proportionally good-sized steps for your body.
This may not matter most times, but when you're going up in front of a group you want to walk with confidence.
Striding out there with long steps shows them you know where you're going.
These points may seem small, but when they add up they can really sap your confidence and make you look weak. So do what you can to correct this. Again, the best way to learn to walk with confidence is to videotape yourself.
‘But Antonio, that's too much work!'
No, it's not. Invest that bit of effort in yourself. Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. You only get one body and one life – take advantage of it.
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