Your body language speaks volumes. If you’re looking to get ahead at work, you need to start paying attention to the way you act and speak to co-workers. Get it right and you’ll show colleagues, clients, and, most importantly, your boss that you’re confident, engaged, and a great person to have around. Get it wrong and you could be overlooked for a promotion or job opportunity. So, how do you move your body and your career?
1. Strike a power pose
How you stand can have a big impact on how you’re perceived. If you want to show people you’re confident and you mean business, strike a power pose. This means standing straight with your feet apart and head held high. Not only will you appear more confident to others, you’ll feel it too.
2. Maintain eye contact
Always look people in the eye: it’s something we’re told to do from an early age, and it definitely applies in a business setting. Holding a person’s gaze not only indicates that you’re focused and paying attention, but it also shows confidence. In saying that, don’t overdo it. Stare for too long and you’ll simply freak people out – be sure to take breaks every few seconds.
Hands are one part of the body our brains tend to zone in on. You can use them to explain situations and help people better understand your what you are saying. What should you do with them? Start by making a few illustrative gestures when you’re talking; this demonstrates openness, clarity, and energy. Another idea is to try steepling – placing your fingers together to form a V-shape – Montgomery Burns style.
4. Avoid the arm cross
Whether you’re sitting in a meeting, giving a presentation, or talking to your boss, crossing your arms is a big no, no. Not only does it signal defensiveness and resistance, it can also indicate insecurity. This brings us back to the power pose – looking the part in business is all about keeping your body language wide open.
5. Don’t fidget
Next time you catch yourself tapping your feet, playing with your jewellery, or drumming your fingers on the table, stop yourself. Fidgeting is typically read as boredom, dishonesty, or nervousness – not the impression you want to be giving. Stillness, on the other hand, gives off an aura of composure, confidence, and control.
Okay, you may be at work, but there’s no reason why you can’t crack a smile. In fact, showing those pearly whites is another way to show everyone you’re not only likable, but also self-assured. However, make sure you’re smiling at the right time – you wouldn’t want to be caught beaming during a serious discussion. As well as helping you to make friends and influence people, smiling will also lift your mood and the mood of those around you – so get cracking.
7. Perfect your shake
Nothing screams ‘I lack confidence’ like a limp, floppy handshake. Not to mention the fact that it’s pretty unpleasant for the recipient. Another one to avoid is the two-handed politician’s version – this is definitely overkill. The key to nailing the perfect business shake is to be firm, but not overbearing, and making sure you get some palm to palm contact. Now you know what confidence in the workplace looks like, it’s time to put these tips into action.