Do you know that there is power in your body language? How you sit, stand, and make eye contact at work can affect the quality of your relationships and can help or hinder your opportunities for advancement.  In fact, the power of body language is so great that if what comes out of your mouth doesn’t match your body language, people are more inclined to believe your body language.

That’s pretty powerful.

How to Use the Power of Body Language

Learning to use the power of body language starts with self-awareness and honest feedback. Enlist the help of someone you trust and take turns observing one another’s body language for a day or two. You may be surprised at what you discover.

Here are some practical tips to get you started.

Empower your Presence. A large part of the early career years is spent developing relationships. Using body language that signals that you are focused, confident, and willing to connect will help you build new relationships and maintain existing ones.

  • The Starters. In general, stand or sit with your shoulders back, but relaxed, with your arms uncrossed to signal that you are confident, friendly, and present. And if you are able, stand up for introductions and to shake hands; it shows respect and signals that you want to connect with the other person.
  • Unplug. Do you wear earbuds at work? You could be unintentionally discouraging your colleagues from talking to you. Remove your earbuds when you are in common areas like the kitchen, hallways, and elevators so that your colleagues can see that you are available to connect.

Draw them in with your Eyes. Eyes may be the window to the soul, but in business, they are essential relationship-building tools. Make their power count!

How you sit and stand tells the world how you feel about yourself. Stand firmly (with one foot slightly in front of the other), with your arms on your hips or at least held in a strong way (don’t let them dangle by your sides) to project power and confidence. Push out your rib cage and look forward (never down).

  • Keep Your Head Up. Staring down at your notes while you’re giving a presentation can be comforting, but it makes you look unprepared. Body language experts recommend making 2 – 4 seconds of eye contact with individual audience members throughout the presentation. It helps you establish a positive connection with the audience, and it shows that you are confident in your work and yourself.
  • Turn Off the Blue Light. Are you addicted to the blue light? It’s a smart idea to put your mobile device away during face-to-face conversations so that you’re not tempted to look at it. Uninterrupted eye contact during an in-person conversation is a rare relationship building opportunity.
  • No More Tears. Everyone agrees that crying is a normal human response to a stressful situation—until someone cries at work. Spoiler alert: Openly crying at work could cause your leadership abilities to be questioned.

Your Voice is a Powerful Tool Too. Your voice also plays a powerful role in nonverbal communication and in how you are perceived. Of course, no one is surprised that a low-pitched voice remains the preferred sound of leadership and power. But don’t worry if you aren’t gifted with a deep voice; there is great power in your vocal delivery as well. The first step in using this power is to be aware of it.

  • Stop Asking Questions.  Do you habitually turn statements into questions?  This sneaky little habit can make you sound as if you’re unwilling to own your ideas. Aren’t sure if you do this? Ask someone you trust.
  • Toss the Verbal Trash. Overuse of filler words like um, well, and uh can sabotage your workplace credibility by making you sound unsure of yourself. Sue Gaulke, author of 101 Ways to Captivate a Business Audience, calls these words “vocal garbage,” and recommends replacing them with a pause.
  • Slow Your Roll.  If your colleague can’t keep up with your rapid-fire speaking rate, she will eventually tune out. Pausing between phrases and sentences will help you to keep her attention.

Body Language + Body Positivity

Finally, keep in mind that positive body language begins with body positivity. It is easier to project confidence and credibility at work when you feel comfortable in your skin. When you feel good about yourself, it shows.

That’s pretty powerful!

Stayce Wagner is the author of Modern Business Etiquette for Young & Fabulous Professionals, available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and other major outlets. Stayce is the founder of Spencer Crane Etiquette, LLC, where business etiquette and authenticity are partners, not rivals. Our many services are designed to help you to achieve success on your terms. We invite you to contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your business etiquette needs.

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