A strong confident person can rule the room with knowledge, personal style, attitude and great posture.
-Cindy Ann Peterson
I think that we sometimes underappreciate the power of body language. It can tell a much more truthful story than our words at times. I’ve been in meetings where I wrapped up my point quicker or didn’t push an issue not because of what was said, but because the person’s body language said that they weren’t receptive. We can unknowingly show our emotions through our body language and even send mixed signals. Our words say one thing, while the body says another.
Crossing your arms is an obvious non-verbal that people give off. It says that you are either angry, detached from the conversation, or not open to dialog. Sometimes we miss communicate in our body language and crossed arms is a common “resting” behavior that many people do. Some leaders, myself included, may cross their arms when they are really thinking about something. I’m not angry, upset, or detached, but someone may think that by looking at me.
Grow your self-awareness to realize that you are crossing your arms in your interactions and make sure that they are uncrossed…..unless you really are detached, angry, or not open to the dialog.
Show your hands
Showing your hands is a sign of trust and we sometimes have a tendency to hide them. Keep your hands above the table at meetings and out of your pockets and not behind your back during interactions. When someone can see your palms it says that you have nothing to hide.
Relaxed hands also show confidence and self-assurance, while fists or clenched hands show stress and anger. Let people see your hands in a nice comfortable position to show others that you are confident and open to dialog.
As you walk
Body language is just as important in your walk as it is during meetings and interactions. You may have a person in your workplace or class that constantly hunches over when they walk, and/or doesn’t look anyone in the eye. They come across as timid, not wanting to be there, uncomfortable, and certainly not confident. This was me during my first year of high school. I was all of those things and even though I felt it, I didn’t realize that I was communicating it to others. I learned a trick from Oprah that went on to help me change into a much more confident person during an awkward time.
Keep your back straight, shoulders back and thumbs forward when you walk. Stand up and give it a try yourself. It sounds very simple but it does a few key things. First, it helps your posture. Pulling your shoulders back makes your body more open to others and shows that you are confident. I thought the thumbs forward trick was the best because it’s subtle and makes a world of difference. It keeps your hands out of your pockets and facing forward in a confident way. Presenting myself in this way was the first step in coming out of my shell and gaining the confidence that I wanted.
These are just three of the most common body language gestures that are easily fixed. Show your confidence by showing the right body language in meetings, interactions, and while you walk to your next destination.
Make a better tomorrow.