Ever wondered what coworkers think of you? Or how you look to hiring managers? We all have an image of how we think we present ourselves, but sometimes it can be quite useful to check in and make sure we’re not too far off the mark.
Check Your Vocal Tics
Do you have any annoying vocal patterns? Say “um” too much? Constantly go up in pitch at the end of your sentences? Ask a friend you trust to tell you every time you repeat one of these things—or better yet, record yourself speaking as you might in an interview or presentation to the boss. You’ll get a much better sense of how you sound to others and will be able to make adjustments.
Settle Your Hands
Do you constantly twirl your hair or fiddle with your jewelry? Do you always have your hands in your pockets or your arms crossed? Any of these habits we turn to when feeling bored or awkward can be perceived as nervous or aloof and can make a bad impression. We’re not saying you can never touch your hair or put your hands in your pockets, just be aware of how often you are doing it so it doesn’t become a bad habit.
Make Sure Gestures Have Meaning
We use our hands when we speak for emphasis and clarity—and sometimes just because we’re used to doing it! Sometimes our hand gestures can be distracting, though, so it’s always best to run through our patterns and make sure we’re using our hands to our best advantage.
Try holding your arms open at a 45 degree angle with your palms up to appear more honest and approachable, or touch your fingertips together when you want to express precision. Place your palms firmly down to signify certainty. And practice these so they appear natural and unrehearsed.
Move Your Head
People can learn a lot from how you hold your head. A tilt can express compassion when someone tells you a sad story. Holding yourself upright and straight can portray confidence in negotiations, by appearing more authoritative and neutral. Start noticing how you move your head and in which situations, so you can adapt if necessary.
Flex Your Muscles
Research shows that flexing muscles, any muscles, can actually help improve willpower and confidence. The next time you’re negotiating or trying to articulate a point, see whether flexing a muscle or two imperceptibly can give you an extra boost.