We’re going through a series of insecurity signals and the easy fixes for them. Let’s carry on.

Interlocking feet (when seated)

This is your body’s attempt to make itself small when you’re feeling anxious.

How to correct it: The solution for jiggling feet will work here, too.

Dismissing compliments

I also call this the James Edgar Special. It’s a particularly regular insecurity sign you will see from me.

When someone pays you a compliment and you immediately downplay it, it’s a sign you don’t value yourself highly.

How to correct it: The most appropriate response to a compliment is “thank you.” No more, no less. You can give one back if you have a genuine one to offer.

Unnecessary apologizing

When you apologize for something that typically would not require it, you look like you’re lowering your own status. Saying sorry after mispronouncing a word—or something similarly benign—is an example.

How to correct it: Slow down when you feel the need to apologize. Ask yourself, “Did I actually do something wrong or offensive?” If the answer is no, just move on and rest assured that no one noticed your mistake. And, if they did, they certainly aren’t waiting for an apology.

Upward inflection when speaking

Raising the tone of your voice at the end of a sentence indicates you’re asking a question. If you do this when making a statement, it sounds like you’re questioning yourself.

How to correct it: Slow down your speech a little, and think about what you’re going to say before it comes out. If you’re not asking a question, don’t phrase it like one. Focus on using a deeper, steady tone to deliver your message.

Self-deprecating humor

I also call this the James Edgar Special, Second Edition. I use this crutch as much as I do the dismissing of compliments.

If you’re truly skilled at humor and the people you’re talking to know you well, you can get away with this. Otherwise, it makes you sound like you don’t value yourself.

How to correct it: Don’t do it. Avoid this type of humor in all but the most informal exchanges. Even if you’re just trying to be funny, it’s more likely to draw pity or judgment. If you want to tell a joke, tell one that everyone can laugh at without wondering if they ought to feel sorry for you.

Deferral of decisions

If you constantly defer making simple or ordinary decisions, it signals you don’t trust yourself to make the right one or that you’re afraid you’ll upset someone with the choice you make.

How to correct it: Before you say, “I don’t care” or “What do you think?” ask yourself what your answer would be if there were no one else to help decide. If it’s a small decision that doesn’t actually need input from others (and be generous with your judgment on this—most small decisions need no outside input), then just make it. You can also offer your decision and ask for feedback if you really aren’t sure.

Requests for validation or reassurance

Confident people are secure in their statements and feelings. When you outwardly (or suggestively) ask others to validate yours, you come off as insecure.

How to correct it: When you make a statement, be prepared to stand behind it without any outside support.

We’ll cover more insecurity signs in the next post.

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