How To Be Unapologetic In Everything You Do
This International Women's Day we're channelling sorry, not sorry.
Due to the whole, ya know, gender stereotypes thing, many girls grow up believing that they have to be polite and nice because that’s what they’re taught women should always be (while ‘boys will be boys’).
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While there’s nothing wrong with being polite, or nice, politeness and niceness can go too far, and when you find yourself apologising for anything and everything you do – basically just for existing – it’s gone too far. It doesn’t do your confidence, or peoples’ confidence in you, any good.
Since we want women and girls everywhere to radiate just as much confidence as men (thanks to society, overall we’ve got some catching up to do), and in honour of International Women's Day, we’ve spoken to some confidence experts about how to be unapologetic AF every day from now on. Here are their top tips…
Start owning the room
According to body language expert Judi James, when people feel under-confident they adopt body language that makes them look smaller e.g. tucking their elbows into their ribs and crossing their legs while they stand. She said this goes way back to animal survival instincts, as when met with a powerful opponent, less powerful animals would try to make themselves look cute and harmless so as to not get hurt. That’s some hard-core Charles Darwin sh*t.
To come across as more confident and, in turn, feel more confident, bin the cuteness. A good pose when you’re sitting down is having your arms resting on a table in front of you, so that there’s a triangle of space under your armpits, or standing with your feet slightly apart instead of crossed. Resist the temptation to make yourself smaller, and go for BIGGER, and make sure you check yourself if you ever feel yourself “self-diminishing”.
Another way is to stop fidgeting. Yep, according to Judi, twitching, fiddling and needlessly checking your phone are all self-comfort rituals we do when we’re feeling anxious, and they make us come across as under-confident.
It’s not easy to shake habits that you’ve had for a long time. That’s why Judi recommends practising at home, standing stock still in a powerful posture by yourself. Yeah, it may feel weird, but it will be worth it in the long-run when you end up owning every room you’re in.
Watch your language
Did you know that there’s a Google Chrome extension you can download that points out all the times you use apologetic language in an email? Yep, there is, it’s called Just Not Sorry, and we spoke to one of its founders Tami Reiss to find out why it was needed.
While being polite isn’t a bad thing in itself, Tami said that too often she was observing powerful and impressive career women using apologetic language in emails or business pitches when there was nothing to be sorry about, and it was damaging their career chances. Using phrases like “does that make sense?”, “in my opinion”, and “I’m no expert” made them sound as if they doubted themselves, and in turn put doubt and distrust into the reader’s/ listener’s head. It immediately altered the power dynamic, and not in a good way.
“There’s a difference between, ‘Sorry I’m late’ and, ‘Thanks for waiting’,” Tami pointed out, which pretty much sums it up.
While in person, factors like hand gestures, tone of voice and facial expressions could make a difference to how apologetic language is received, when writing, all the other person has to judge you on are the words on the page. So make them matter. Make them unapologetic.
Don’t knock yourself down
Confidence coach Jo Painter says that when we don’t speak up and voice our wants, needs and opinions, we send a message to ourselves that we’re of less importance and value than other people. We knock our own confidence by staying silent. That’s why you should always speak up assertively, in a firm but polite tone (see, you can be both polite and unapologetic), about the facts and how you feel about them, says Jo. Your opinions are just as worthy of listening to as anyone else’s.
Jo also recommended some ways to shut down that inner critic - you know, the one that takes over your thoughts slowly but surely and convinces you that you’re incapable. Jo advised, “These thoughts are part of the normal human experience but you don’t have to believe them or engage with them. Thoughts are transient and will pass if you don’t focus on them. When self-doubt hits you it feels bad, however if you distract yourself and allow the thought to pass it has very little power over you”.
Being mindful of your thoughts will mean you can track the arrival of your inner critic when it comes along to bring you down and, just like that, you can watch it exit again. Don’t believe the negative BS, you’ve got it sorted gurl.
Fight for gender parity this International Women's Day by making your pledge to #PressforProgress, donating to Times Up or the Justice and Equality Fund to help women fight sexual harassment and by telling a woman you know that they inspire you. Oh, and remember to raise your voice on social media using the hashtag #SOUNDON and #PressForProgress!
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