Each December I’m amazed at how quickly the year has gone by – and 2019 has gone by in quite a flash! This time of year can be a funny one for our energy and mood. A lot of us are utterly stacked with a huge workload, but our bodies and minds are desperate to wind down and we’re having to find that extra push to get over the finish line. This can leave us feeling exhausted over the Christmas period and not in the best state for festive cheer.
Today I’d like to share with you some of my favourite tips on how to ensure your confidence levels are in the best place to enjoy the party season.
What is confidence anyway?
Well, let’s start by acknowledging that confidence is not found on a driftwood quote, it’s certainly not found in a bottle (although that first glass may fizz you up, it won’t keep you there for long) and it’s most definitely NOT found after you’ve manned up… or grown a pair… or put your big girl pants on (all expressions which I absolutely loathe!).
Although at party time you may look around you and see swathes of confident people wafting around being fabulous, you may take some comfort from knowing that no one is inherently confident. We can’t be confident ALL the time. Confidence is a decision, a choice, something you create for yourself. It’s a habit, a behaviour, a trait you nurture over time.
How can you create confidence at parties?
In my exploration of confidence, I’ve found various approaches that work. Tools which I store in my ‘Confidence Kitbag’ and pull out for different situations. And here are the ones most relevant to parties:
Get yourself into the right mindset
If you want to feel confident, you need to start by seeing yourself as confident and then provide people with the evidence to see you that way too. Confidence is a choice and you need to be prepared with the evidence to prove it to yourself and others.
Start by deciding that you’re going to have an amazing time. Tell yourself that it’s going to be the best party you’ve ever been to and that everyone is going to have an incredible time. Then think about how you want people to see you on the day. Visualise yourself having fascinating conversations with people, imagine laughing together and the warmth in their voices. Think about all the fun you’ll have and the nice things they’re say about you after you’ve met.
Confidence doesn’t just ‘happen’ to you, you have to get yourself into the most confident state and that takes planning. So decide what you’re going to wear in advance, including clothing, shoes, jewellery, bag and underwear. Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready. Plan your route in advance. If you don’t plan (and we’ve all been there!) you’ll be more likely to stress about what to wear, get ready in a rush and arrive late, none of which are conducive to confidence.
What to say
One of the biggest confidence killers is not knowing what to say. The good news is that to be a great conversationalist, you need to ask more questions than speak! Most people love talking about themselves, so prepare a few questions in advance. Rather than asking the same questions as everyone else – for example about what they do or where they live – have a few questions up your sleeve that lead to common areas of interest. For example, you could ask how they met the host, what’s the most exciting thing they’re working on right now or what’s the best thing that’s happened to them all year.
True confidence comes from being so relaxed that you’re happy to let others shine, so show them that you’re fascinated by what they’re saying, ask them to go into more detail and comment positively –they will then most likely reciprocate with questions for you.
Strike a pose
Choosing positive body language will not only convey confidence to others but also make you feel more confident yourself. Stand up straight with your shoulders back, rather than hunched. Avoid folding your arms as this can look defensive. If you want to attract attention to yourself, stand in the centre of the room, rather than hovering with your back to the wall, or even worse, facing the wall. Choose slightly more expansive gestures than if you were talking to someone one to one. Increase the volume of your voice. And if you’re talking to someone, smile and maintain steady eye contact, rather than glancing over their shoulders.
Quit while you’re ahead
I always think that the best time to leave a party is just before it starts to wane. This means that you’ll come away with a great memory of the occasion and people will remember you at your best. Being your most sparkling self at a party can take up a lot of energy and so it’s better to leave before that energy has depleted. Although most people like to have a drink or two, the longer you stay at a party the greater the temptation to over-drink, which can result in vortex of doom thinking the following morning and zap the confident feelings that you worked so hard to generate the night before.