Monday, July 11, 2016

Convey Confidence Without Words

Do you get a lack of respect at work? Do you feel like you're being passed over for promotions or opportunities that should have been yours?

If so, it could be because you're "telling" others to ignore you. You're "telling" others that you lack confidence to tackle the big jobs.

"Not so!" you may cry.

You may not be saying it with your words, but you may be telling others loud and clear with your body language that you're not strong enough to cope with a challenge. 

That's the assertion of Stanford Graduate School of Business Lecturer Richard Cox, who explains that the "language of power" comes from our nonverbal cues.

You may not even be aware of how many cues you're sending out every day, just by walking down the sidewalk or getting on the subway. Your language of power, he explains, is making itself know in determining who will get out of the way on the sidewalk, and what seat you may take on the subway.
It's your body cues -- and those of others -- that determine your level of power.

Let's say you're at a company event, and you see a group of people you don't know well. Do you:
a) approach the group and tap someone on the shoulder or b) stand quietly nearby, hoping someone will notice you and let you in the circle.

If you chose the first option, you are asserting your power in a nonverbal way. At the same time, the person who steps aside to allow you in the circle is also demonstrating his or her power within the group, Cox says.

"Any one person can change the dynamic," Cox says. "If you tap someone on the shoulder, you're asserting 'I'm here.'"

Cox explains that most people go throughout their days navigating the nonverbal world just fine (and trying to monitor your every move would be exhausting). But there are times when you need to ramp up your efforts to communicate through your body language and your voice.

For example, if you want to be more approachable, try tilting your head a bit, using more gestures and keeping your voice tone friendly. On the other hand, if you want to be seen as more thoughtful, deliberate and powerful, try keeping your body more still, limit your gestures, lower your voice and speak more slowly.

"You will be communicating to people with different social cues. Just by changing your gestures, you can change internally as well," he says. "You can find your power."

Finally, remember that you can use these strategies at home after a long day at work and a stressful commute. Before going through the door to your family or friends, he suggests doing a "reset."

"Take a breath. Put on a smile. When you walk through that door, be a different you," he says.

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