I love reading articles about successful women in the workplace and one common trait amongst the stories of leadership is that it seems that sometimes women have to work just a little bit harder to beat a typical stereotype.
One of my favorite blogs (Classy Career Girl!) shares this excellent article, Master These 8 Body Language Tips for Career Success, that talks about how our body language can make all the difference in your work environment. I have always believed that confidence is the most respectable trait a woman can have in the workplace, but I also enjoy these ideas about the influence of confidence on body language.
Women don’t have it easy in the workplace. We’re expected to look a certain way, behave a certain way, and deal with a lot of things that our male coworkers wouldn’t have to deal with, like harmful stereotypes. Body language is a crucial element of communication, and if you’ve mastered the art of body language, you can command the respect you deserve from the moment you walk through the door.
Related: 9 Career Lessons from #girlbosses
8 Body Language Tips for A Successful Career
1. Make Eye Contact
Your ability to appropriately make eye contact is actually an indicator of your confidence. If you’re trying to convey a specific request, make sure to look that person in the eyes for a few seconds while you’re delivering the message. It will resonate clearly with them since the combination of eye contact and verbal directions strengthens your authority. It’s more direct, and you’ll never hear someone say “oh, you were talking to me?”
2. Keep a Confident Posture
The things you have to say matter. You’ve earned your authority through your education and experience. If you have a request to make or a potential innovation to share, there’s absolutely no reason to cower to deliver that message meekly. Good posture, with a straight spine and strong shoulders, will help you appear as confident as you should feel. Strong posture naturally commands authority.
3. Maintain Proximity
Sticking to the sidelines will make you appear to be uninvolved. Staying too close to someone might give the appearance that you need their guidance, or you depend on them. Maintain a bubble of personal space, and keep others just outside of that bubble. You’ll be simultaneously establishing yourself as independent and an equal part of the team.
4. Use Simple Gestures
To a certain extent, talking with your hands can help convey your point. Wildly gesticulating can be distracting, but simple hand gestures to emphasize your points or draw attention to examples you’re displaying will create a map around your talking points. It’s a little more engaging than talking with your hands by your sides – you’ll be maintaining the interest of the people you’re speaking to.
5. Give Firm But Gentle Handshakes
Think of every handshake you’ve ever had in a business environment. There are people who shake your hand like they’re trying to win a wrestling map. They feel too aggressive, and you likely deemed those encounters to be bad first impressions. With weak handshakes, you might get the impression that the individual was unsure or perhaps even disliked you. Master the art of a firm but gentle handshake.
6. Avoid Distracting Habits
We all have little anxious habits, like picking at our nails, twirling our hair, or tinkering with our jewelry. Even if you’re paying attention and absorbing information, the people around you may mistakenly get the impression that you aren’t. You might appear to be distant. Make sure you’re focused, and if you need a fidget habit, pick something discrete (like tapping your toes inside of your shoes) that others are unlikely to notice.
7. Use Appropriate Facial Expressions
If someone makes an absolutely absurd request to you, you might roll your eyes before you even know you’re about to do it. The best thing to do when you want to cringe, express annoyance, or appropriately convey anger, is to keep a straight face and communicate with your words. Even if you’re speaking in a perfectly professional way, your facial expressions may have unwanted connotations that affect your communication.
8. Do Not Pretend to Smile
Women get told to smile a lot, and you already know why it’s so absurdly aggravating. It’s better not to smile, even when you feel like the person you’re conversing with wants you to. A fake smile is easy to spot from a mile away – the facial muscles move differently. People who can tell your smile is fake may find you to be untrustworthy. Only smile when it comes naturally.
Related: 11 Habits of Successful Women
Using great body language almost as the same impact as having actions that back up your words. People will be able to read you loudly and clearly, and that’s important when you want to succeed. Get those shoulders up and share your ideas with the world.