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8 Business Body Language Tricks That Help Advance Your Career

8 Business Body Language Tricks That Help Advance Your Career

Have you considered how your posture, facial expressions, and other physical movements can impact on your career? If not, it may be time to take a closer look at what your body language says about you as a professional.

Body language plays a crucial role in an individual’s success, regardless of his or her industry or position. Although their implementation and effects often seem subtle, positioning and movements work together to communicate specific attributes about a person. Thanks to the effective (or not so effective) use of body language, an unqualified professional can rise through the ranks, while the best minds in their fields may languish in middle management.

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Fortunately, anyone can learn how to leverage body language to their advantage, achieving better rapport and reputation among their colleagues.

Career-Boosting Qualities Communicated by Body Language

When it comes to influence in business, many factors contribute to how others perceive you. Choice of words, speaking volume and tone, and style of dress and grooming all offer cues (whether accurate or not) to others regarding your capabilities.

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However, one of the most important factors in shaping the perceptions of others is body language. By using movements, positioning, and facial expressions, you can project positive qualities such as:

  • Confidence. Business leaders throughout history have been known to project confidence, or a sense of being secure with their abilities or accomplishments. Therefore, if you wish to advance, employ body language to communicate confidence – even when you may not feel it.
  • Assertiveness. Managing high-level duties and personnel requires the ability to advance your own will – or the will of the company – in spite of resistance. Physically positioning yourself as someone not easily swayed by others shows the ability to influence and lead others.
  • Interest. Potential employers, colleagues, partners, and clients want to work with people who find the topics they discuss compelling. Showing an active interest in a conversation, lecture, or presentation indicates that you as a professional will use the same level of engagement in a future business relationship.
  • Openness to collaboration. Although assertiveness is key in leaders, so is the ability to cooperate with others to achieve common goals. Being able to identify and incorporate ideas from one or more outside parties helps you benefit from the diverse expertise of multiple sources, ultimately strengthening your strategies.
  • Intelligence. Succeeding in any industry requires a wide variety of knowledge, from education to life and professional experiences. Body language methods that communicate alertness and comprehension indicate a high I.Q. and show others you are mentally “cut out” for greater responsibility.
  • Empathy. Not only is I.Q. important to business intelligence; so is the E.Q., or emotional intelligence quotient. Professionals who decipher and respond to the emotional needs of themselves, customers, and colleagues stand the best chance of advancing in their fields.

By using body language techniques to communicate one or more of these qualities, you can raise yourself in the esteem of influential parties without speaking a word. As a result, you gain favor with the very professionals in the position to help advance your career.

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The 8 Most Effective Business Body Language Tricks

  1. Maintain eye contact and active listening techniques. Everyone wants to feel interesting and important, and engaging in active listening shows other individuals you see them in such a way. By keeping consistent eye contact with others when they speak, nodding occasionally, and using other indicators of rapt attention, you as a professional show respect for colleagues.
  1. Keep palms facing down. Those around you may not recognize this subtle move, but it will help shape their opinions of you all the same. When individuals place both of their hands palms down on tables, podiums, or counters while speaking with others, it projects a sense of authority and leadership.
  1. Act in synchrony. Imitating, or “mirroring,” the body language of others shows you align with them philosophically as well. Watch how others position themselves – whether sitting, standing, or walking, and mimic the way they cross their legs, lean forward or backward, gesticulate, or present facial expressions (smiles, frowns, etc.). The goal is not to “ape” the other individual, but to communicate a sense of cooperation.
  1. Strike a wide stance. While speaking to – or in front of – others, if you adopt a wide stance, it expands your diaphragm and projects your speaking voice more effectively. You also appear more impressive and influential, making you a business force to be reckoned with.
  1. Keep body language open and remove possible barriers. People take emotional cues from their conversation partners. Therefore, if you slouch, cross your arms, or otherwise appear “closed off” to others, audiences respond in kind. Keep body language relaxed and arms at your sides to show you’re open to those with whom you interact. In addition, avoid holding large items or allowing structures such as tables to separate you from one another.
  1. Smile sincerely. A convincing smile begins slowly and spreads throughout the rest of the face, especially the eyes. When approaching an individual of consequence, imagine greeting an old friend, and a genuine smile will emerge. These expressions communicate a sense of warmth and welcome, which encourages others to open up.
  1. Minimize movements. Standing woodenly in networking and business situations won’t do. However, squirming, scratching, wiggling, twitching, or fidgeting projects an appearance of nervousness or impatience. Gesticulating wildly while conversing also distracts from important points. The best policy is to incorporate natural, subtly controlled movements to enhance your points and mirror the body language of others.
  1. Develop a strong handshake. The tactile sensation of a handshake has made it the prevalent physical greeting in many cultures. However, perfecting this seemingly simple act takes some work. Avoid extremes in handshakes, whether overly limp or excessively firm. Instead, aim for a brief, natural-feeling grasp to communicate trust and respect.

Although implementing some of these techniques may feel more natural than others, practicing them at each business or social function helps you develop body language habits that will benefit you throughout your career. A promotion or raise may not happen immediately, but over time, strong body language greatly contributes to the success and scope of your professional life.

What body language techniques do you use to establish authority among your peers?

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Featured photo credit: LinkedIn via m.c.lnkd.licdn.com

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Jayson DeMers

Entrepreneur and Productivity Expert

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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