4 Ways to Exude Confidence at Work
By: Meredith Lepore
Feeling confident is half the battle when you are working freelance. Actually, it is more the appearance of feeling confident that is important. The real confidence will eventually come (I promise). As a freelancer, I know that when I tell people I am a freelancer, many of them (usually friends who are in less creative fields and work for huge corporations) look at me like I am Fantine in Les Miserables and I just finished selling my hair and teeth. They can’t imagine that I could actually get steady work and make enough money to feed and clothe myself.
But maybe it was the way I said it. I imagined I was shrugging and condensing my body so I came off as very insecure. Perhaps if I had stood up straight in a Wonder Woman position they wouldn’t have given me such a pitiful look. I could have fooled them into thinking I was the most successful freelance writer ever. It really is all about your body language. What you do with your body when you are talking about your career or trying to pitch yourself is all about faking it ’til you make it. You want everyone to think that you have no problems and they should be lucky to get to work with you. You do that by giving them confident messages. You need to look like this when you are talking about your career.
According to a study led by Amy J.C. Cuddy (@amyjccuddy), an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, standing in a power pose for a few minutes before an interview can literally help you get the job. Watch Cuddy’s excellent TED Talk on power poses here.
Make yourself bigger
This one is mainly for the ladies, as guys are pretty good at this (watch any dude sit down on the subway. They go full on Beyonce). Women tend to condense their bodies, keeping their elbows to their sides, tightly crossing their legs, stacking their things in small, neat piles, and contracting themselves to take up as little space as possible. Men tend to expand into available space and take up room. In this case, spread out like a man. Stand tall, put your shoulders back, widen your stance, and hold that head up high.
Keep your head straight up
Speaking of heads, women tend to tilt theirs. It is a way to convey sympathy but it also known as a very feminine gesture which you probably don’t need in a salary negotiation. When you need to project power and authority, keep your head straight up in a more neutral position.
Keep those hands in control
I speak with my hands all the time. Most people find it quite entertaining, but sometimes we need to give those hands a rest. In a business setting, keep your hands on your lap or on the conference table where they can be seen and where you will be reminded to keep them still. And when you do use gestures, notice if they are reinforcing your statements. If so, you are probably showing your palms when indicating openness and inclusiveness, “steepling” (fingertips touching, palms separated) when being precise, and turning your hands palms down when you are absolutely sure of your position.
Have a firm handshake
A handshake can say a lot about a person, so you need to make it a good one. Women in business are judged very harshly on their handshakes. Even more than their male counterparts, women with weak handshakes are judged to be passive and less confident. To have a good shake, be sure to keep your body squared off to the other person, facing him or her fully. Make sure you have palm-to-palm contact and that the web of you hand (the skin between your thumb and first finger) touches the web of the other person’s. Look the person in the eye, smile (this is the time to smile big) and greet the person warmly. Most of all, remember to shake hands firmly.