Unspoken Confidence: The Power of Body Language at Work

Have you ever noticed that someone can be saying one thing verbally, but then communicating something completely different with their body language? This is something really important to pay attention to, especially in work situations where body language could be signaling lack of confidence and potentially be holding you back in your career. Studies have proven that people are more influenced by their opinion of you than what you actually have to say, so with that being said, here are some tips that demonstrate the power of body language at work.

Before your meeting: Power pose. Several different studies have pointed to the effectiveness in holding your body in expansive “power” poses. These include leaning back with your hands behind your head and your feet on a desk, or standing with your legs and arms stretched wide open. Holding these for about 2 minutes before an important interview or meeting stimulates higher levels of testosterone (linked to power and dominance) and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

power pose

Make tasks easier: Smile. If you’ve got a big frown on your face while you’re at work, you’re sending your brain the clear message that, “This sucks. Don’t do this.” This results in stress chemicals being released and therefore whatever you’re working on does, in fact, seem more difficult. When you smile, you send your brain the message that this shit isn’t so bad – and it’s completely doable. Not only that, but smiling is an easy way to make yourself appear more friendly and approachable. Even if you’re not feeling so friendly or approachable.

Show confidence: Widen your stance. Apparently when you stand with your feet close together, you can send the message that you’re unsure of what you are saying. By just widening your stance, relaxing your knees and centering your weight in your lower body, you look more solid and confident. Or you can twerk. Just kidding. They might not get that at your particular workplace.

Be respectful: Maintain eye contact. When someone avoids eye contact, we can assume that they are a shy introvert… or they are uncomfortable liars. Here’s a simple technique to improve eye contact: Whenever you greet a business colleague, look into his or her eyes long enough to notice what color they are. Maintain eye contact as much as possible during conversations and presentations to help yourself appear more confident and as though you care about what is being said. Just be careful of intense eye contact that never gets broken. Your co-workers will absolutely think that you’re creepy.

Gain clarity: Talk with your hands. So the area of your brain that is responsible for speech production is active even when we are gesturing. This means that using your hands as you speak can help to power up your thinking and potentially  help to make you less hesitant when you speak (meaning less “umm”s). Try incorporating hand gesturing into your speaking more often to see if it helps you form clearer thoughts and use more impactful language.

gesture body language

Be trusted: Reduce nervous gestures. It’s natural to break out the nervous gestures when we’re stressed (which likely happens quite frequently at work). This could include rubbing your hands together, bouncing your knees, playing with your jewelry or hair – or any other strange thing you do when you’re stressed. Unfortunately, people can take these nonverbal behaviors as a sign that you or whatever you’re saying is not credible. The cure for this is to take a deep breath to calm your nerves, plant your feet flat on the floor and stay still. Being still sends the much more desirable message that you’re calm and confident despite your a-hole of a boss.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re at work. Remember, body language speaks just as loud as whatever comes out of your mouth, so make sure that you’re sending the right message.


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  1. Pingback: 5 Steps to Becoming a More Confident Speaker - The Frugal Model

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