You’re walking down the street. Approaching you is someone walking fast, taking large steps, and swinging their arms with their head held high. You think to yourself, “Wow, this person looks like they own the sidewalk”. The distance is closing in. One of you will have to move. Which will it be?
In my experience, it’s rarely the person portraying strength and confidence who moves. This is not necessarily from lack of manners. It’s more likely because their body language sends such strong signals that you, the oncoming person, sense you should move first.
Body Language and Your Image in the Office
Our body language influences how others perceive us. Whenever we approach somebody, we unconsciously but carefully study his or her body language. We look for signs and messages that can help us form an opinion of that person.
What does your body language say about you in the office?
If you walk around with your shoulders slumped, looking down, taking small steps, you are probably emitting signs of insecurity. If you walk around the office taking large steps with your head held high, chances are you will be perceived like the confident looking person in the street.
In a professional context, it’s confidence, strength, and decisiveness that will boost you higher. A good starting point to make these traits a hallmark of your professional reputation is inside of your mind. If you convince yourself that you are a strong, confident and powerful professional, then your body will likely follow.
Take yourself back to a time where you felt like you were on top of the world. Perhaps you blitzed an interview. Perhaps you received a phone call to say you landed the job. Perhaps you were asked out on a hot date. How did you feel at that time? What was your posture like? How much space were you taking up?
In my online training program, Powerful In Business For Women or Powerful In Business For Men, I find that people often diminish the amount of authority and power they project because of low-status body language habits they’ve learned from childhood.
There are ways to overcome these body language habits. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Secrets to a Powerful, Professional Image
You can create your own powerful, professional image, by following FIVE of my favourite tips.
1. Keep Your Chin Up
When you hold your head high, it exposes your neck (the most vulnerable part of your body) and shouts out to the world, “I’m not afraid”.
2. Take Large Steps
When you take large steps and move fast, others will rarely stand in your way. You exude decisiveness and assertiveness: two important characteristics of a powerful professional.
3. Spread Your Wings
People who are insecure often try to make themselves as small as possible. To combat this, you should take up as much space as possible. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and one slightly in front of the other. This stance makes you look solid and grounded.
4. Don’t Tilt Your Head
Tilting your head is a submissive gesture. It’s a habit commonly used by women, but will prevent you from releasing that confidence I know is inside. Instead, keep your head straight when talking to others, and don’t be tempted to break eye contact to look down.
5. Don’t Nod Your Head Continuously
Nodding your head too much during a conversation can make you look over eager. Although we often use this gesture to show the other person that we understand what they’re saying, nodding your head too much can make you look too eager to please.
I’d love to hear from you. What body language postures make you feel confident and fearless? Leave your comments in the section below.