I was dumbfounded and perhaps a little embarrassed when in an interview last week with Sharon Sayler, body language and communications expert, she said that to look more intelligent we should breathe through our noses. Who knew I was coming across as stupid when my cold forced me to breathe through my mouth? I felt lucky just to be breathing quite honestly!
The lesson here is not to dwell on my recent cold, but to make the point that there are many ways that our body language influences the way we are perceived by others.
There has been much talk lately of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and her new movement. I happen to be a fan of the premise of the book that as woman we can learn much about how to better position ourselves for success. Certainly our awareness of not only our communication patterns but body language is a great place to start. In fact, leaning in, is literally one way that you can communicate to others that you are engaged and ready to listen and take action.
You can listen to the full interview for more great tips, but the take-away here is that we already know that we need to do great work to be recognized. Of equal importance is positioning ourselves in the organization as confident and capable of taking on more responsibility and challenges. Confident and competent women are much more likely to be considered as having leadership potential.
Another pointer that I picked up from the interview with Sharon Sayler is that keeping your chin up helps you to look more confident. Can you fake confidence until you feel it? Apparently so! Keeping your chin up is one way to demonstrate confidence. Try it before you head into a meeting or make a presentation. Lifting your chin actually feels powerful and does give you a feeling of confidence.
Maintaining eye contact during conversations and presentations also contributes to the perception that you have confidence in what you are presenting or discussing.
Try some of these simple tips and see how you feel. Even when you make small changes in your behavior it changes the way others think of you. Ask a trusted colleague or mentor for feedback as you continue to try new approaches to your communication and body language.
Lean in. Chin up. Step up into your own talent and power and demonstrate to others that you have the potential to move up.