Communication is the glue of all types of relationships, even professional ones. You may already be spending an awful lot of energy in improving your skills in speaking to confidently communicate.
But what about your non-verbal communication practices? Body language plays a huge role in portraying confidence in the workplace. However, its effects are more intuitive than deliberate and more subconscious than apparent, which can make it complex to develop.
Kristi A. Gleason, a communication professional, operations manager, and corporate trainer states the following: “Body language in the form of movement, posture, hand gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions, and micro-expressions can be a useful instrument for appearing confident. Non-verbal behaviors are a visual gauge of intangible characteristics and an indication of the value we place on ourselves and how we expect others to interact with and value us.”
While body language can influence how other people view us, it can also affect how we feel about ourselves. In the infamous TED talk of Amy Cuddy on the effects of power posing, she says “Taking a confident, can-do stance, positively affects an image in the eyes of others while initiating a positive psychological internal change,” says Gleason. “Tweaking body language significantly changes social interactions, impacting how our lives unfold. Mastering physical presence builds an internal confidence muscle.”
So then, how do the most confident people physically present themselves? Their body language is all around showing the values of others, making them feel appreciated and at ease. These people also use body language to be more powerful, according to Gleason. “Most successful people are adept at reading a situation, understand how to appear confident, and make minor tweaks to wield influence and win people over. Their body language is congruent with their verbal message,” she says.
If you are now ready to give attention to all aspects of confident communication, start by avoiding the five body language mistakes listed below.
Uneasy head movements
Active listening cues are good. However, there is a distinct line between showing a conversationalist you are engaged in the conversation and appearing insecure. You will not see highly confident people moving their heads a lot by tipping or tilting their head to the side or even extremely nodding their head in conversation. Gleason mentions: “Excessive head-nodding gives the appearance of a bobblehead and says, ‘not management material.’”
Being overly expressive
Less is more when we talk about facial expressions. You would certainly want to smile and show kindness or convey enthusiasm. However, do not force your excitement or display emotions that are clearly mismatched to the tone of the context.
Gleason says that being overly expressive can decrease from credibility and might further discourage interest while running the risk of alienation. “Expressing the entire spectrum of emotions undermines the envisioned interaction and the message is lost in the confusion.”
Have you experience tapping your feet or playing with your pen or anything you can get your hands on during long meetings? Look out for these distracting body language habits that can weaken your presence.
Gleason says that less movement is usually better when it comes to showing confidence, and that fidgeting reveals a lack of confidence. Fidgeting is also a sign of nervousness, she says. “It is a distraction and takes away from the intended message.”
“The ability to harness breath is one of the key elements of executive presence. It is about giving your voice the richness it is capable of so that the power of your voice matches the power of your words,” says Gleason.
Gleason states that shallow breathing represents stress and it can frequently result in undesirable nervous habits.
“Chronic breath-holding and effortful breathing are often unconscious saboteurs for carrying oneself with confidence.” It might be easier said than done when you’re nervous. Before a significant interaction, take the time to breathe deeply through your stomach, and stay present. It can have a radical effect on your communication.
Having poor posture
Having great posture is a symbol of confident body language. Look for a power pose that makes you feel invincible, unstoppable, and ready to face whatever the day throws at you and you will automatically increase your credibility.
Gleason states that simply standing with your feet spread further apart signals a subconscious signal that you indeed are feeling confident. “People tend to be more receptive to individuals with their bodies in expansive positions.”