Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day. This made me think of a pet peeve of mine: How sometimes women inadvertently use weak or submissive body language at work and undermine their own power. Today, I want to share some tips to help convey confidence and strength at work.
First, a personal perspective. I am the youngest of five siblings and the only girl. So, I grew up with four boys all of whom were older and bigger than I. I’m sure this experience shaped me in many ways (I might write an essay about that someday), but a clear way is that I had to learn very early on how to project strength and confidence among the pack. I don’t know if this came instinctively as a pre-disposition, or if it was an adaptive mechanism. One thing is for sure, it’s served me well in the workplace.
Based on that experience and on some additional reading, here are some tips:
Networking, entering a room/meeting
DO stand tall with both feet planted on the ground. DON’T stand with one leg crossed over the other or with one hip “popped”. This makes the body seem unbalanced, and makes your head tilt slightly. Both are weak gestures.
Speaking of head tilts, women often do this while listening in order to convey interest and approval (same as with head-bobbing) but DON’T, these can be perceived as submissive signals.
DO shake hands firmly. Practice this with a guy whose opinion you trust. The web of your hand should touch the other person’s web. A weak handshake sends a message to the other person’s lizard brain that you’re weak.
Around the conference room table
DO keep your head in a straight neutral position and “take up” the space you’re occupying. DON’T “get small” by hunching, looking at your phone.
DON’T touch your face or jewelry, or touch or toss your hair. Under no circumstances should you touch your upper chest or neck (unless you’re actually getting “the vapors”). It’s a vulnerable, low-confidence gesture.
Lastly, it’s not all bad news. Women DO have an advantage over men in their ability to read the body language and non-verbal cues of others. Yay!
Do you know a young lady that would benefit from reading this? Please share.
©Copyright Eva Del Rio