Now this might be something only a select few can relate to but its something I have always noticed but just accepted to be normal – in my younger years I even conformed to it and began to put off a version of my self that encouraged it to occur even more. What I am talking about here is being judged for being an individual who looks younger than they are – and as a result being treated in various social situations in a belittling or condescending manner, just as an adult would behave with a child. I experience this everywhere from my workplace, to my home life, to even a brief interaction with a store clerk. At first I would shrink and turn in on myself shying away from these types of situations – which would only worsen the problem. If you look little, and you act little, you’re going to be treated that way too.
As soon as I started to recognize that people really did not have the right to be second guessing my knowledge or speaking to me in a condescending manner, when they would not typically do this with others, I started to practice behaviours which exuded confidence. These would be little changes like making direct eye contact, having a serious facial expression, and speaking in a clear confident tone. I noticed a huge dramatic and immediate change. Although we little ones have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as the non-vertically challenged and more mature looking folk – it feels great when you command respect and actually receive it. One must also remember that you get what you give – giving off a professional vibe will encourage people to act in the same manner with you as well. We must never sell ourselves short – even if that’s what we see in the mirror.
I once watched a “TED talk” video on the topic of exuding confidence. The woman spoke not just about “faking it ’til you make it” but “faking it until you become it.” Surely acting big will not add inches to my short and petite stature or age and wisdom to my seemingly clueless looking face but the key tips that this speaker had on how to present yourself in daunting situations have actually proven useful many times in my own life. She spoke of exhibiting physical mannerisms such as standing tall and straight and other confident non-verbal cues in each and every social situation in which you may find yourself vulnerable to being treated in a demeaning manner. This seems to derive back to animalistic behaviours in which when a animal feels threatened they may puff out their feathers or fur, trying to cover more ground, letting the other guy know he means business. I suppose in today’s world this very same tenet can be applied and proven true. We are all just testing our limits and boundaries attempting to assert power over one another – but unlike in the animal world, the little guy doesn’t have to always lose the battle.