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No matter where you fall in the corporate hierarchy you want to be a leader in your domain. We all know someone who has a natural magnetism. Someone who walks into a room and people look. Someone who speaks and people listen. Someone who was born to lead. Or maybe that someone is you?
Your body language can influence your power. Amy Cuddy has argued that your nonverbal behavior not only affects others perception of how powerful you are, but it also changes your own feelings of confidence and power. Here’s a little review of high-power body language and some subtle ways to get started:
Steepling is when someone brings their hands up towards their chest or face and presses the tips of their fingers together. This is a gesture of confidence, self-assuredness and even superiority. This can easily be done to inspire confidence in yourself and others during a meeting or interview. This is an easy one for female alphas in particular since it is seen as assertive, not aggressive.
Contrary to popular belief, smiling is actually seen as a sign of submission. Submissive people tend to smile more at alphas to show they are agreeable and non-threatening to their power. Alphas in turn (think Clint Eastwood) smile much less because their power is enough to put people in line. Females in particular need to be careful not to over smile as it puts them in a submissive position. Dr. Nancy Henley found that women smile in 87 percent of social encounters, while men only smile 67 percent of the time.
Hands Behind Your Back
Another high-power position that you often see politicians do is when they put their hands behind their back and grab one wrist. The reason this can be powerful is that it exposes the most vulnerable part of the body–the groin for men and chest area for women. Only a supremely confident person will place their hands behind their back in that way. You often see principals or teachers do this as they walk up and down rows of student’s desks during tests.
Top Hand Shake
Alphas know how to shake hands. Not only do they give a firm handshake, but they also try to be the dominant hand in the handshake. A high-power handshake is when the dominant person has their hand ‘on top’ of the clasp. The weaker person will often take the bottom part of the handshake by exposing the underside of their wrist–which is a physically weaker position. You often see politicians jockey for the dominant handshake position when meeting in front of cameras. Two equals usually just shake hands up and down, with no one on the top or bottom.
The Colors You Wear
Power and confidence are not only shown through body language but also through what you wear. The two most powerful colors are black and red. Black is the color of mystery and power, while red is the color of aggression, passion and violence. You often see politicians wear black suits with red ties. Occasionally you will also see blue ties, this is because blue is the color of wisdom, loyalty and honesty. You can also use color psychology to your advantage as an alpha and think carefully about which colors you wear to work.
Start practicing the above body language and behavior in addition to picking up on clues from other alphas in your life and you will begin to feel alpha yourself.
Understanding the science of personality is crucial for dealing with colleagues, clients and bosses. Let me explain:
Researchers have found that every person, regardless of gender, age and nationality is made up of 5 basic traits:
Fondly known as the Big 5 or OCEAN, these are incredibly helpful for understanding yourself. When you understand your own personality, you are able to ask for your needs, connect more easily and optimize your behavior. Read below or watch the video to figure out where you fall on the spectrum. You can also take our official quiz to find out your Big 5:
Openness is when someone is curious and openminded to new experiences and knowledge. People who are high in openness are inventive and curious, while people who are low in openness are consistent and cautious.
Conscientiousness describes how organized and dependable you are. People who are high in conscientiousness are efficient and organized. People who are low in conscientiousness are more easy-going and laid back.
Extroversion describes how you interact with people. People who are high in extroversion are outgoing and energetic. People who are low in extroversion are more solitary and reserved.
Agreeableness is how you feel towards others. People who are high in agreeableness are friendly and compassionate. People who are low in agreeableness are more analytical and detached.
Neuroticism is how you deal with emotions. People who are high in neuroticism are sensitive and tend to be more nervous. People who are low in neuroticism tend to be more secure and stable.
Send this quiz to an important person in your life to find out how their personality stacks up!
Do you attend conferences, trade shows or live events? I want you to be a conference pro. Let me teach you some tricks of the trade.
Conference pros not only have the skills to rock an event, they also have an arsenal of tools at their disposal. Before you go to the event, make sure you have the following in place:
- Your Badge: One of your most important, but overlooked assets for conferences is your badge. It is your first impression. It is your conversation starter. It is your calling card. It is your key to interactions. Before leaving, double and triple check that your name and company is spelled right in the conference system.
- Insider Tip: If you have an opportunity to add a conversation starter to your badge, do it! For example, can you add a favorite quote? Your last vacation spot? The music you listened to on the way here? Sometimes badges allow you to add an interesting fact–never pass up an opportunity to add an interesting anecdote to your badge. It will make YOU easy to approach.
- More conference assets
In Like Flynn
“In Like Flynn”: A slang phrase meaning having quickly or easily gained access as desired (Wikipedia)
Once you’re in, you want to stay in. Here’s how to keep the conversation going. These work whether you are standing at a booth or chatting to someone in the bathroom line. First, use conference conversation starters:
- What did you think of the keynote?
- Have you learned anything really interesting so far?
- Which break-out session are you going to go to?
- Any booths I should stop by in the Exhibition Hall?
Second, use killer conversation starters. Please DO NOT ask them what they do or where they are from. These are ridiculously boring and you are more interesting than that. Use one of our killer conversation starters.
Know Your Limits
If you are not an extrovert, don’t try to be! Even if you are an extrovert we all have limits. The worst way to do a conference is to try to do it all even when you are exhausted or out of your element. In my Master Your People Skills course I talk about locations that make you thrive and places that make you survive. Do you do better one-on-one? Then setting up coffees at conferences is going to be way more productive for you than attending a break-out session. Do you love late nights? Then host an after-party! Knowing your limits also comes to food, sleep and timing. If you are particular about food, bring your own snacks. If you aren’t a morning person, think about skipping the morning session so you have more energy for the happy hour event.
Get all 10 Tips to Rock a Conference.
Do you know how to use your words powerfully? Let me explain the psychology behind verbal communication:
Start with Intention
If you want to get your way you have to know exactly what you want. Far too often we go into a meeting or give an elevator pitch without thinking of our ideal outcome. Get in the habit of being intentional about your communication.
- Action Step: At the beginning of every week, open up your calendar and set intentions for each of your meetings, networking events or pitches. You can either write your intention in the notes section of your event or set your intention mentally. Think about what your ideal outcome for that event would be. Do you want to land a new client, build rapport or simply make a good first impression? Knowing what you want before you start communicating will help you get exactly what you want.
- Do it right now and tell me your intention on Twitter:
It’s hard to ask for what we want. Asking for what we want requires us to be vulnerable and direct and opens up the possibility of rejection. These fears creep into our asks and make us less bold with our requests. We beat around the bush, stall, add qualifiers and sometimes even ask in an apologetic tone. The problem is that when we are unclear about what we want, others can’t get clear either.
- Action Step: Next time you need to ask for something, use clear, concise language. Remove any disqualifiers like maybe, possibly or probably. Simplify your statements so that you are super clear with yourself and the other person on what needs to happen next.
Get even more Verbal Strategies.
Do you talk on the phone a lot? You have to learn some easy tips and tricks to use when doing business calls:
No matter who we are speaking to, we ALWAYS want to hear the truth. Can you guess:
Which mode of communication has the most amount of lies?
The answer is C. Phone. People lie least on Email and IM because there is a paper-trail. Next comes face to face, because it is hard to lie while looking directly into someone’s eyes. So we lie the most on the phone–no paper-trail and less guilt producing looks. If you want to have more honest phone conversations you can do this easily by invoking the paper-trail. At the beginning of your business calls, mention that you will take notes on the call and send them over in an email to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Your First Impression MATTERS
On the phone, your first impression starts with your ‘hello.’ Here’s how you can make your hello awesome:
- Don’t hold your breath as you wait for someone to pick-up. This tenses your vocal chords so you sound anxious when you say hello.
- Don’t rush to say hello when someone calls you. This makes you sound impatient and disorganized. Take a small breath and settle before saying hello.
We send confidence signals with our tone. Research has shown that for both men and women the more testosterone you have coursing through your body the more powerful and confident you feel and the better you perform. Power posing is a super easy trick you can use to increase your testosterone levels. Power posing is when you expand your body to take up as much space as possible–even keeping your arms loose to gesture while you talk increases testosterone. Before a call I will often get up and stretch out or walk around as I talk. Some of my favorite power poses:
Get all 10 Phone Strategies.
Do you have a killer first impression? It all starts with your business card–make sure it counts! Here’s what you can do to make your business card awesome:
Your business card needs to do three things:
- Explain what you do quickly when you first give it to someone in person
- Remind people what you do when they are following up with you days (or weeks) later
- Show people what you do if your card is passed along
Knowing your business card has to serve these purposes, you have to make sure that it explains who you are and what you do in one line. This is your tagline. I want you to create a one-line answer to the question “What do you do?”
Your tagline does not have to be the ‘perfect’ explanation. In fact, it’s even better if your tagline, image or title is a little interesting. Something eye-catching or unique. This is called a hook or an element of surprise that gives them something to talk to you about or remember. In my Master Your People Skills course I explain how surprise is one way you trigger someone’s pleasure center in the brain.
Match Your Brand
The other thing that business cards do is represent and explain your brand in a first impression. You could have the cleverest business card ever, but if it doesn’t match your brand, it confuses people. I want you to think about your brand personality. What are three words you use to describe your brand? How can you put that into a card?
Get all my Business Card Tips (and see examples!).
Do you have someone difficult at your office? Do you constantly have to handle narcissists? Figure out which type of difficult person you are dealing with:
- Downers are also known as Negative Nancy’s or Debbie Downers. They always have something bad to say. They complain, critique and judge. They are almost impossible to please.
- Better Thans are also known as Know It All’s, One Upper’s or Show-Offs. They like to try to impress you, name-drop and compare.
- Passives are also known as Push-Overs, Yes Men and Weaklings. They don’t contribute much to conversations or people around them and let others do the hard work.
- Tanks are also known as being explosive, a handful or bossy. They want their way and will do anything to get it.
Here are some ideas for how you can handle the difficult person in your life.
Do you have impostor syndrome? You should always feel proud of the work you do. I want to help you recognize the signs of Imposter Syndrome and take steps to heal:
Recognize Impostor Syndrome Signs
Look at the following statements and answer yes or no:
____Do you ever feel you don’t deserve your achievements?
____Do you ever worry that people will find out you are secretly not worthy?
____After a success, have you dismissed it as luck or timing?
____Do you think you have tricked others into thinking you are more successful than you actually are?
____Do you think others over-value your success?
If you said yes to more than 2 of these you have likely experienced a form of the Impostor Syndrome.
Name and Tame
The good news is that just recognizing you are feeling impostor syndrome thoughts can help you stop them. So you need to get in the habit of hearing your own self-doubts. If you hear yourself say, “Oh I don’t deserve this” or “It was just luck.” Pause and note that you are having these impostor syndrome thoughts.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Nothing grounds you more than writing down what you are grateful for. Writing therapy has proven to be a great remedy for the imposter syndrome. When you are feeling those self-doubts you can pull out a journal and write about the 5 things you are grateful for. You can also write about your proudest moment. This gets those good juices flowing.
Get all my Imposter Syndrome fixes.
If you need to drum up business or attend a lot of networking events for work, check out our favorite networking tips:
Name Tag Tip
I have an insider tip on name tags: Always, always look at other people’s name tags before filling out yours. I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me where I look like a giant nerd because I have filled out my full name and company and everyone else just has their first name. Or worse, I just write my first name and everyone else practically has their resume written on their chest. Save yourself the pain and get in the habit of checking out others’ first.
Hit the Sweet Spot
The biggest rookie mistake I see is when people plant themselves right at the entrance of a networking event to meet people. This is the worst spot! The best place to stand is right where people leave when exiting the bar. This way they have a drink in their hand and they are ready to mingle. This is always where I plant myself when I’m at networking events and it makes for super easy conversations.
Use the Head Tilt
It can be hard to make real connections at networking events, but it’s possible. And I do it using body language. My favorite move is the head tilt. The head tilt is the universal body language sign for “I’m listening.” You can do this when someone is speaking to show you are paying attention and excited to meet them. This makes you more charismatic.
Get all 10 Tips to Rock a Networking Event.
Do you need more credibility? You might like this article and video on how experts use body language to their advantage.
Tim Ferris is a productivity guru and he is the master of presence. He has a secret power body language he uses in his awesome ted talk on Smashing Fear.
Marie Forleo is the creator of Rich, Happy and Hot Bschool and is a master marketer. I have to admit I have a little girl crush on her. But who doesn’t? Her signature body language move conveys wisdom.
Ramit Sethi is a financial guru and creator of I’ll Teach You to Be Rich. His classic move is a great way to engage his audience. Hint hint: It has everything to do with his glorious eyebrows.
See all 7 Internet Experts.
Women in the workplace need to know how to work it! In this post I share some body language science of power and give specific tips for female professionals. Here’s a few to get you started:
A common body language mistake women make is to over-nod. This happens during conversations when a woman wants to show agreement or congeniality and nods as the other person speaks. From afar this looks a bit like a bobblehead doll. While it can show friendliness, it is also the sign of a pushover. So be sure to nod only when you really agree with someone, not by default.
Don’t Fake Smile
Women have been taught from a young age to ‘smile and nod’ while in conversation in order to be likeable. The problem is, fake smiling is not only a sign of weakness, but also disingenuous. Instead of plastering a smile on your face, save your pearly whites for when you first meet someone and when you actually find something agreeable. This will make people appreciate your gorgeous grin.
Point Your Feet
The feet serve as a direct reflection of a person’s attitude. When the feet are pointed directly toward another person, this is a sign of genuine interest. If, on the other hand, the feet are pointed away or towards the exit, this means that person is thinking about leaving more than talking to you. When speaking with people in positions of power be sure to point your feet towards them because it shows them you are engaged and respectful.
Carry One Item
Studies have shown that people who carry more than one item — like a purse and a briefcase or a briefcase and a coat are perceived to be less organized and more forgetful. So, before going into a meeting or event be sure to consolidate your bags, leave extra things in the car and give your coat to the receptionist to hang so you do not have to carry it into the room.
Get all my Body Language Tips for Women.
Are you in sales? Do you talk to clients? We ALWAYS need to know how to sell ourselves whether we are directly in sales or not. Learn some of our favorite science based selling strategies:
Start with a Bang
Always start with a bang. One study tried to figure out how to increase room service tips for waiters in hotels. They found there was a super easy thing waiters could to increase their tips. All they had to do was start with a positive comment. When hotel guests opened their door, waiters said “good morning” and gave a positive weather forecast for the day. Just that one positive comment increased their tips by 27%!
How does this help you? Never start a sales meeting or pitch by talking about bad weather, traffic or being busy. Always begin with a positive comment or anecdote. Great weather, fun weekend plans or a favorite sports team winning a game. That gets you off onto the right foot.
The biggest self-sabotage mistake is to speak ill of a competitor. Research has found something called Spontaneous Trait Transference. They found that whenever you say bad things about someone else people can’t help but put those same traits on you. The brain can’t help but associate your gossip with you, even if logically we know you are talking about another person. If you say your competitor is low-quality and unreliable, your potential client can’t help but associate those traits with you. No matter what, when it comes to gossip, always say “no comment”.
Get all my Killer Science-Based Sales Tips.
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