Body Language in the Workplace – Communicating a Confident Image

Body language:  

Nonverbal, usually unconscious communication, where thoughts, intentions, or feelings are expressed by physical behaviors, such as facial expressions, posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space.

What image do you convey during an interview, meeting with your colleagues or presenting a speech? How do you give yourself confidence” 

From an article written by Catie Watson for HerLife Magazine:

“In a perfect world, the most qualified candidate would get the job and career advancement would be based on merit alone. In reality, the image we convey through body language may have more to do with whether we succeed than most of what we do or say. Most people hold on to cultural biases that associate leadership with male traits, which means that women in the workplace are especially vulnerable to negative judgments about feminine body language.

According to Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, a business coach and author who focuses on what social scientists call nonverbal behavior, many feminine gestures are viewed as non-powerful in the workplace.

Take, for example, the simple head tilt during a conversation. Women tend to do it as a sign of interest and involvement in what the speaker is saying, says Goman in an article on the American Management Association web-site, but quite often the gesture is interpreted as submissive rather than powerful. Additional non-verbal “no-nos” at work cited by Goman include girlish moves such as twirling your hair and playing with a necklace or earrings. Smiling too much is another body language issue for women, especially when discussing a sensitive subject, hearing negative feedback or expressing anger. In general, a woman’s body language in the workplace should always come across as professional and competent instead of flirtatious.

Besides advising women what not to do, Goman provides tips about positive body language that women should adopt. In a business meeting, the people who take up a lot of room by spreading out their arms, legs and work materials are demonstrating confidence, while those who sit with the arms and legs crossed and all of their materials in a neat pile may be viewed as less confident or closed off. Goman also suggests that women focus on the eyes rather than the mouth during conversations, especially with men, and make sure handshakes are firm and assertive.

New research shows posture has a bigger impact on body and mind than previously believed. Striking a powerful, expansive pose actually changes a person’s hormones, behavior and attitude just as if he or she had real power.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains how this works in one of the most-viewed TED videos of all time. Pretending to be powerful by standing with your hands on your hips and your elbows turned outward (like Wonder Woman)



or with your arms raised over head in the universal victory pose changes the levels of two important hormones in your body.

Assuming a powerful posture for as little as two minutes before going into an interview or meeting where you will be judged can actually change the way you feel about yourself, making you feel physically stronger, more dominant and even taller. Since Cuddy published her initial findings, numerous additional follow-up studies have backed up her research.

Merely practicing a “power pose” for a few minutes in private-such as standing tall and leaning slightly forward with hands at one’s side, or leaning forward over a desk with hands planted firmly on its surface-led to higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in study participants. These physiological changes are linked to better performance and more confident, assertive behavior, recent studies show.”

Click below to read more of Catie Watson’s article

 View Amy Cuddy’s TED video:


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