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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

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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