Empowering Women Through Body Language

Whether we like it or not, we are judged by our image. In this space and with our clients, we’ve done our fair share of posts on first impressions and dressing for success for ladies. Considering the revelations that have rocked the pillars of Hollywood, journalism, the arts, and many other industries over the past month, our own conversations have circled back to power and respect. For example, in the workplace, what’s “too sexy”, and in interactions with members of the opposite sex, what’s “flirtatious”?

As a woman, you can empower yourself immediately, in nearly any situation, by being in control of the verbal and nonverbal signals you’re sending. And while signals change depending on where you are, your confidence will apply in nearly any country you are traveling to. Here are a few body language mistakes that lady leaders often make.

  • Head tilts – Tilting your head can signal, “I’m listening”, but using it too much may be perceived as a sexy invitation. If you want to project power and authority, try to keep your head straight and forward, in a neutral position.
  • Girlish behaviors – Twirling your hair, playing with jewelry, biting your fingers, and touching your neck can make you appear nervous.
  • Nodding too much – Constant head nodding shows engagement and encouragement, but not power.
  • Voice “rise” – Raising the pitch of your voice in the middle of sentences is not an authoritative way to express yourself. Try to maintain a stable and strong tone.
  • Expressive hand movements – In situations where you want to maximize your authority — minimize your movements. When you appear calm and contained, you look more powerful.
  • Soft handshake – A weak handshake is perceived to be less confident and even submissive. Always try to go for a firm handshake.
  • Flirt – Flirting may gain you quick likeability, but may cause you to lose your competitive advantage in the business world. Try to avoid blatant flirting.

 

To improve your nonverbal communication skills, try working with a female friend who will give you honest feedback. Practice going through a 10-min presentation or business lunch, projecting confidence and avoiding the trouble habits listed above. Take your friend’s feedback seriously, and try to incorporate it into your professional life. Then, ask a trusted male friend to do the same with you. Ask them for feedback on your “performance”, especially your body language. Notice what may be different in his feedback, find the balance, and incorporate it.

Self-awareness in business interactions creates chances for you to get your core message (thoughts and ideas) across and in front of your gender and image. Your enhanced sense of confidence will project no matter where you are in the world, or whom you are doing business with.

How do you project confidence in the workplace through nonverbal communication?