Business is tough. We often have to say or do things that make us uncomfortable. It’s a place where everyone needs to know how to have thick skin and make sure their needs and desires are being equally met. But what happens when it doesn’t come to you naturally? How do self-proclaimed “nice” girls, make it without being trampled on?
Experts say body language is the key to success, especially in business. Standing tall, widening your stance and deepening your voice are all strategies that can benefit the way people portray you and your power in your career.
Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph. D, an international keynote speaker and author of “The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead” gave Lioness some tips on ways to navigate in the work world and make yourself look more powerful.
“Human beings are genetically programmed to look for nonverbal cues and to quickly interpret (correctly or incorrectly) their meaning. Body language was the basis for our earliest form of communication when the split-second ability to recognize if a person or situation was benign or dangerous was often a matter of life or death,” Goman added, when explaining the reasoning behind why body language is such a large part of the human life.
There are many times within the work environment where women can seem intimidated, making it hard to enforce their strength and power. It can be challenging to get your point across, especially as a female in typically male dominated industries. Using the proper skills, intimidation can be avoided. Goman says there are different changes that can be made within body language that can completely change this.
“Having a delicate handshake. Even more than their male counterparts, women with a weak handshake are judged to be passive and less confident. TIP: Take the time to cultivate your “professional shake.” Keep your body squared off to the other person, facing him or her fully.” Goman added, “Make sure you have palm-to-palm contact and that the web of your hand (the skin between your thumb and first finger) touches the web of the other person’s. Look your partner in the eyes, smile—this is one place where a smile is a business asset—and start to speak: ‘So good to meet you . . .’ or whatever. Most of all, remember to shake hands firmly.”[the_ad id=”9623”]Goman also encourages being aware of the amount of smiling and nodding a woman does while in a conversation. “When a woman nods, it means she agrees—or is listening to, empathizing with or encouraging the speaker to continue. In fact, women tend to nod so much that we’ve been accused of looking like bobble-head dolls. TIP: Constant head nodding can express encouragement and engagement, but not authority and power.”
Stance is also a large part of the body language category that makes a large difference in the way women are portrayed. Goman recommends keeping your hands on the conference table where they can be seen.
“And when you do use gestures, notice if they are reinforcing your statements. If so, you are probably showing your palms when indicating openness and inclusiveness ‘steepling’ (finger tips touching, palms separated) when being precise, and turning your hands palms-down when you are absolutely sure of your position,” Goman also explained.
Body language can make or break a person’s interpretation of you, it is important to use it to your benefit.