When people meet you for the first time do you make a positive first impression? Do people think, “Wow, that’s a confident woman”? People are making assumptions about who you are and what you do before you’ve said a single word. Of course they notice your hair, make-up and the way you dress. In addition to that you are sending out, like radar, subtle non-verbal cues through your body language.
Here are five ways to send out the right signals.
1. Eye Contact
Making eye contact across a crowded room isn’t just reserved for romantic novels. In any business situation the ability to make eye contact is essential to a strong business presence. When you make eye contact you show that you are listening to that person and that you care about what they have to say, even if you don’t agree with it (particularly if you don’t agree with it). Eye contact is a show of strength and confidence.
People don’t think of smiling as body language. But your face is part of your body isn’t it? You communicate your passion for what you do and your joy for life through your smile. All other things being equal, would you rather do business with someone who looks miserable or happy? Make sure the first thing they see about you is a big, ostentatious smile. You love who you are and it shows!
Remember when your mother used to tell you to sit up straight? Well, she was right. Slouching, scrunching and leaning are going to send out all the wrong signals. So stand up straight with your shoulders back and head up. You’re not an overworked cave dweller; you’re a powerful, confident business woman.
4. Hand Shake
A firm confident hand shake is one of the first things people will notice about you when they finally do speak with you. Limp wristed women (and men) don’t make the best first impression. If you do have a weak hand shake then grab hold of your significant other and practise, practise, practise! A firm hand shake says ‘I know who I am and I’m happy to meet you.’
Powerful business women don’t fidget. Fidgeting could be playing with your hair, picking at your nails, rubbing your face or any other nervous action. It makes you look bored and weak. Often fidgeting is unconscious, so you may need to ask someone close to you to observe you and take action accordingly. If you need to do something to keep you occupied in a particularly dull meeting, then why not take notes, or ask a question. If you’re bored at a networking event, then treat yourself to a glass or wine or excuse yourself and walk up to someone new.
You are a successful, powerful woman and it should ooze out of every pore. Understanding the nuances of good body language is one way that you can control other people’s perceptions of you. So stand up straight, make good eye contact, smile, shake hands firmly and stop fidgeting!