It takes one tenth of a second to form an opinion of someone yet 90% of us have no idea of how we come across to others. This startling fact was revealed during an evening workshop run by RADA Communications Skills Trainer, Lisa Akesson, as part of LinkedIn’s Skills For Tomorrow campaign. Could negative body language be hampering your quest for career success? Check out these secret techniques now.
Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behaviour and our behaviour changes our outcomes.
If the above statement sounds far-fetched, I thought so too until I learnt that sitting or standing in a hunched or “closed” body position can increase the stress hormone cortisol by 15%. By comparison, embracing an open stance can decrease cortisol levels by a whopping 25%. In other words, we increase our anxiety levels simply by the way we sit or stand. To learn more about this research, check out Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk.
Top tip 1: If you find yourself in a high-octane stress situation such as a job interview, sit up straight with shoulders back and hands resting on the table.
Embracing an open body stance not only reduces tension but can also increase your ability to take risks by up to 45% – giving you the confidence to achieve more in your daily work situation.
Top tip 2: when you’re walking through the office, pretend that there is an invisible cord stretching from the top of your head to the ceiling pulling you up taller.
Transform your body language with the power pose
Adopting a power pose (for example: hands on hips a la Wonder Woman or arms stretched away from the body); not only makes you feel and appear more confident but also allows you to claim your space. This is something men are more adept at than women as you’ve no doubt witnessed on the daily commute. Women have a tendency to take up less space – reducing both their presence and visibility in the office arena.
Top tip 3: when you’re talking to a colleague or boss, stand square on to them with your feet firmly grounded into the floor with your hands resting on your hips.
Chunk don’t flap
Hand gestures are always a bit of a minefield in the office arena. Too much is annoyingly distracting and not enough risks you appearing stiff and formal. So what’s the right technique? We’re advised that gestures should never be used superfluously but rather to illustrate the point you’re making. Using open palms facing upwards is a typical flapping gesture and a definite no-no as it makes you appear vague and wishy-washy.
Top tip 4: Rather than flapping, try chunking. Bring both hands together as though you are about to clap and move them both down together in a short sharp motion to emphasize your point. This technique demonstrates decisiveness and brings a level of gravitas to the most challenging of meetings.
Stretch to energise
With so much of our day hunched over a computer screen, it’s a constant trial to maintain good posture in the gruelling hours between 9 and 5. However, evidence suggests that slouching or hunching brings a dip in energy levels and can bring about feelings of apathy, lethargy and low-level depression.
Top tip 5: At your desk, stretch your arms behind your back and lace your fingers together, straightening the arms upwards to stretch your back, arms and shoulders.
For more body language tips and advice, catch Lisa’s video here.
Do you have any tried and tested body language techniques that help you appear more confident at work?