Professional Development Work Relationships

10 Simple Body Language Techniques for Career Success

Written by Peter Jones

Dr. Carol Kinsey Gorman, author of The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help—or Hurt—How You Lead, has 10 great tips for maximizing success through body language:

1. Sit up straight.

Good posture doesn’t just impress those around you, it can actually boost the way you feel about yourself.

2. Use your coffee cup to open up.

Believe it or not—a recent study at Yale University actually concluded that participants holding warm beverages versus cold ones were more likely to be trusting in any given interaction. So unless you’re heading into salary negotiations and need to drive a hard bargain, grab a hot cup of coffee and feel more generous with your coworkers. And maybe bring one for your boss.

3. Synchronized nodding.

Stanford University scientists found that teams who moved the same way were more creative and collaborative. So go ahead, mirror your team members’ body language; the team that nods together gets more done.

4. Squeeze left.

If you’re too much in your head and not relying on the tools you’ve trained so hard to build, squeezing a ball in your left hand can distract the right hemisphere of your brain (associated with conscious focus) and engage your left hemisphere (associated with automatic motor skills). It works with seasoned athletes and could work for you.

5. Avoid resting grumpy face.

Try to relax your facial muscles, especially when concentrating or reading emails. Studies actually show that messages can be interpreted as angry in tone when we read them with furrowed brows.

6. Shake shake shake.

We all shake hands after a deal is made, but the Harvard Business School found that shaking before negotiations can make for a more equitable exchange.

7. Keep your voice on the down low.

The lower your voice, the more authority you command. Try dropping your voice when asking for a raise. Researchers at Duke discovered that a 22 Hz drop can result in a significant pay increase, all other factors equal.

8. Come into the game warmed up.

It takes our brains only 200 milliseconds to determine a person’s emotional state. So warm yourself up before you walk into the meeting to prove to everyone that you’re at your best. If you come on stage already in character, no one will doubt your performance.

9. Add that extra touch.

A Cornell University study showed that customers tipped 2-5% better when their servers made physical contact on the hand or shoulders. Try giving your associate a pat on the back and see what happens.

10. Flex your muscles.

Muscle tightening has been shown to increase willpower. Try tightening your biceps, hands, or calves, and see if it boosts your self-control.


About the author

Peter Jones