Perception is everything. You may feel insecure, but if you come across as confident, the other person will assume you know what you want and expect it. A few simple exercises will give you an edge.
1. Good posture. “Don’t slouch,” “stand up.” You probably heard your parents or another adult drill that into your head as you were growing up. It may have been annoying at the time, but it was good advice. Imagine a string from the center of your head pulling you up to the ceiling. A person who has good posture and stands tall and erect, feels more self-assured. Without being aware of it, many people pick up on non-verbal cues and make decisions based solely on them. Some other things to keep in check: look straight ahead of you instead of at the ground. Don’t cross your arms over your chest. Make eye contact but don’t stare.
2. Spread out. When meeting with an attorney or someone where you want to feel powerful, spread out your belongings. Stretch your body out as much as possible. Sound crazy? Try it at a restaurant. Sit down, keep your arms and legs close to your body. Notice how the wait staff treats you. Then move your belongings out so they take up more of the table and stretch your body out so you take up more space, within reason, of course. Keep your head up and your shoulders back. How are you treated now? A person who makes themselves “larger” tends to command more respect.
3. Speak slowly. It’s such a simple thing, but it can make a difference in how others perceive you. Speaking slowly shows confidence. If you don’t feel confident talking slowly, practice a few times. Don’t take it to the extreme. Speak slower than you normally would and enunciate your words. It will make you feel – and sound – more confident.
4. Be knowledgeable. Have all the facts about your legal matter and be prepared to discuss them at your first meeting. Express yourself so the attorney understands what you want. Practice on a friend or family member first. Let them critique you. Have them repeat back to you – in their own words – what they think you said. Does it match what you meant to convey? Sometimes we are too close to the situation and what is easily understood by us isn’t clear to others.
5. Smile. Like good posture, this is an easy one. And easy to do. It works. You feel instantly better when you smile. You come across as more approachable. People feel more kindly toward someone who smiles. It is a good investment of your time and energy.
6. Empower yourself. Know as much as you can about your case and what to expect from the attorney. Information under Hiring Tips and in Be A Smart Client are excellent sources to use.
7. Use your imagination. Just before you enter the lawyer’s office imagine you are wearing a Superman cape or a crown or tiara on your head. Visualize whatever makes you feel invincible. That alone will make you stand taller and feel powerful.
8. Dress for success. You don’t have to look like a movie star to build self confidence. If you want to feel better about who you are and how you look, then take care of yourself by showering daily, brushing your teeth, and wearing well-fitting clothes. Take time with your appearance. People will notice.
9. Future sight. Confidence is easier to achieve if you imagine you’ve already done it. Close your eyes and focus on what it is you want to achieve. You want the meeting to go well, you articulate exactly what you want and the attorney respects what you have to say. Breathe smoothly and evenly. Focus on your out-breath, and feel inside how easy and natural that felt. How right it felt to attain your goal. Continue this until your brain accepts this feeling as fact.