You want people to listen to you, right?

You want people to listen to you, right?

You want your voice to be heard, your ideas to be considered, your opinions to matter?

Here’s the thing: HOW you say something is just as important as WHAT you say.

All you have to do is let your body talk – but make sure it’s saying what you want it to.

Because the way we sit, stand, walk, or gesture (or show our feathers!) makes a huge difference in how we are perceived, respected or heard by others.

It has a pretty dramatic effect on the way we feel inside, too.

So here are 4 deceptively simple secrets to communicating with confidence — and power — in the workplace and beyond. :)

Practice these in front of the bathroom mirror – then out in the world – and see what a difference they make in how you feel – and others respond.

1. Hold Your Head UP

In the animal world, tilting one’s head is an unconscious act that shows an aggressor, or a dominant opponent, your jugular. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, big guy, don’t worry about me! See? I’m no threat to you! Really!”

It suggests softness and vulnerability.

That’s fine with your sweetheart. It’s not with your boss.

2. Smile – After a While  

We are by nature adept at making others feel comfortable. One way we do that is by, ahem, tilting our heads, gazing softly at them, and smiling. We also smile too quickly when we’re nervous or unsure.

Use the power of your smile consciously, strategically.

It is said that powerful people smile WHEN pleased, powerless people smile TO please.

Which one do you want to be?

3. Keep Hands and Arms Loose and Low

The way you cross your arms speaks volumes. No matter how you may feel inside, what do you want to show outside? That you’re angry and uptight? Nervous and unsure? Or confident and on top of things?  

This is practicing power at its simplest.

–Monitor those mini-movements. Don’t keep smoothing your hair, playing with your necklace or bouncing your leg.

–If you cross your arms, keep them low, slightly open and relaxed. Hold them more across your middle than your chest. Better yet, cup one hand in the other in a loose, relaxed stance at your waist. (Notice I didn’t say lace your fingers.)

Unconsciously, we read hidden hands with suspicion. If you place one hand in a pocket, hook a thumb on the outside. When you cross your arms, make sure both hands are on the outside, visible and relaxed.

Watch the Nag Stance. One hand casually placed on a hip is fine. Two is what your mom did when she told you to pick up your room before dinner.

4. Take.   Up.   Space.

A quick thank you to the amazing Deb Sofield for this powerful lesson.

In the natural world, every animal from peacocks to pufferfish make themselves look bigger when threatened. “You can’t eat me! Don’t you see how BIG I am?”

Men do the same thing – in all kinds of ways.
(Don’t believe me? Watch ‘em.)

We women, on the other hand, instinctively make ourselves smaller.

Think about your dog’s behavior with another dog. Which one rolls over?

Yeah. You don’t want to do that. :)

Instead, you want to…

Stand TALL. Stand STILL.

Use the posture of power, with back straight, shoulders squared, head up. Stand with legs straight and slightly apart, anchored to the earth. Keep your arms loose and out from your sides a little, and please – please – don’t cock your hip.

NOTE: This strong stance will help you FEEL stronger, and even APPEAR taller than you might actually be. That’s a good thing. 

Trust me on this. :)

Don’t rock on your heels, swing side to side, or cross and uncross your legs. Don’t toss your hair, shrug your shoulders, or fidget. 

ALL of those are power leaks.

And SIT Tall Too.

If you have a choice, select a chair with arms that is at the same (or higher!) height than your superior. Sit at or near the head of the table. If you have to use a couch or low seating, sit forward on the edge, and as straight up as you can.

Ever notice how men will lean back, place one ankle on the other knee and spread their arms across the back of the chair?

They’re spreading out, taking up space.

Practice these simple tips and you’ll be sending your own not-so-subtle message,
thank you very much.

A message that says, “I am important, and what I have to say matters – so listen up.”


Some time ago, I worked with a woman who suffered from anxiety and depression. When we started, she’d practically lay on the arm of the couch, slouched down in her seat, leaning into the cushions as if she could barely hold herself up.

In time, she grew stronger, and began to speak her truth in relationships. As she did, there was remarkable transformation in every other part of her life as well. She made dramatic advances in her career, she asked for what she wanted, she became clearer about her own value and what mattered most to her.

And her posture transformed. Unconsciously, she began sitting up straighter, speaking with strength, and communicating her conviction both verbally and physically.

Practicing these behaviors even BEFORE you feel that strength, will get you there even faster.

So how about you?

Have you already tried some of these yourself? What did you notice?

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr


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