In the dating scene, the business world and in social situations women need ways to show their confidence. Body language is a great way to assert control and communicate strength and power. What should and shouldn’t women do with their body language?
Here are some tips for women on how they can use body language to be more powerful:
1. Don’t Bobblehead
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.
2. 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.
3. Don’t Peer Over Your Glasses
Judge Judy’s signature move is to peer over her glasses disdainfully at the people in her courtroom. Nonverbally this is a cue of superiority and scorn. If you wear glasses try not to peer over them at people. It makes you look distant and snobby!
4. Don’t Self-Touch
When women are nervous they tend to tuck their hair behind their ears or fiddle with their jewelry. These are low confidence gestures. Women also toss their hair or touch their neck when flirting because it exposes the armpit, which releases sex hormones, shows the curvature of the neck and highlights shiny healthy hair. You do NOT want to do this in a business situation because it is the opposite of showing professional power.
5. Don’t Wrist Pop
Women love to stand with one hip popped out or a wrist popped out to the side. Oddly, a limp wrist or exposed wrists are a sign of submission and both women and homosexual men tend to do this subconsciously when they are in a room with people they want to attract. This is why while smoking, many women hold the cigarette with one wrist turned out and exposed. If you want to show power, don’t expose your wrists.
6. Don’t Point
Be careful not to point at people or up in the air while making points. It often triggers people’s memories of a school marm or nagging mom. If you want to gesture while you speak use an open palm or the a-ok thumb to index finger gesture. These are both positive nonverbal cues and help you look more approachable and confident.
7. 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.
8. Claim Your Territory
When women want to be assertive they can stand with their feet spread further apart. This ‘claiming of territory’ is a subconscious cue to men that you are feeling confident. When women are nervous, they tend to take up as little space as possible — crossing their legs and tucking their arms into the chair or folding them over their chest, but this looks weak. When you walk into a room, be confident in your movements, don’t tuck in your legs, cross your arms or turtle your shoulders. This makes you look powerful and strong.
9. 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.
Steepling is when someone brings their hands up in front of their chest and presses the tips of their fingers together. This is a gesture of confidence and self-assuredness. This can easily be done to inspire confidence in yourself and others before or during a meeting or event.
Overall, you want to make sure that your body language is aligned with your words. If you are telling people you are confident, show confidence. Body language can give you a nonverbal edge in your interactions.
About Vanessa Van Edwards
Lead Investigator, Science of People
I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.
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