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Is bad posture, poor eye contact or awkward body language getting in the way of your career aspirations? Here’s how to put your best foot forward...
The power of strong and powerful body language cannot be underestimated. When used properly it could hold the key to exuding self-confidence, making valuable and long-lasting business connections and getting noticed in the workplace.
According to Structural Integration Specialist and Get The Gloss Expert Anna Collins, “The posture protocol from the Downton Abbey era might have seemed strict, but it certainly bred a generation of well-presented ladies: keep your head up (remember the balancing books on your head trick), sit up straight and stand properly. These days, it’s easier said than done as we are driven to work all hours, travel long distances and find relaxation by collapsing in front of the TV at home.”
Fed up of not putting your best foot forward at work? Here’s Anna’s pick of the 7 biggest body language mistakes preventing you from reaching your career goals...
It’s all too easy to slump into a chair, (even these so-called snazzy ergonomic ones), using the arm and back rests to support your entire bodyweight, instead of sitting correctly. To do this, take a firm chair or stool, stick your bottom out, then gently place it on the surface. The bony bits you will feel are your ‘sitting bones,’ then move your upper body around until you find a stable position, i.e. not leaning too far forward or backward. It may seem odd at first, but once you get used to it, sitting for long periods of time becomes easier – and makes you look more professional.
Whether it is at a computer screen, a person, or direction of travel, looking straight ahead places less strain on your neck and head than if you stare down at the pavement/iPhone or strain it forwards and upwards at the computer. Less strain = less pain.
Sounds silly, but by keeping both feet firmly on the floor when it comes to sitting in your chair (in point 1 above), it will allow you to sit taller for longer, taking the strain off your hips/back. When standing, it looks far better if you are able to stand tall and concentrate on what is being said/done, rather than fidgeting from side to side, sinking into alternate hips. This may not be so easy to achieve long-term by yourself, but concentrate on feeling the full length of the foot in contact with the floor and think ‘tall thoughts.’
All too often, we just walk, without really putting too much thought into the process. In an ideal world, our toes/feet/legs should be tracking in a straight line, but it’s very easy to slip into lazy habits. Have a look at how people walk around you – do their toes and feet point in (like a pigeon) or out (like a clown)? Your walking posture says just as much about you as any other form. Try and aim for straight – it looks far better.
When you meet someone for the first time, or are going to a business meeting, it can be intimidating. The easiest way to start off on the right foot (no pun intended) is to look people in the eye, offer a firm handshake (no wet fish please) and smile!
There are plenty of nutritional tricks that will help your posture. Think of your body as a (hopefully) well-oiled machine. In order to function at its best, it needs good energy and treatment. So, large milky coffees with sugary snacks aren’t going to be as helpful as good old water and fresh food. If you, like me, find green tea slightly bitter and difficult to contemplate, try white tea. Also, no surprises here, but sleeping at night rather than working through it will also ensure you’re more alert.
Even if you’ve been celebrating (or commiserating) with your friends until the wee small hours, don’t love your job or simply don’t feel confident in the workplace, it’s important not to show it. Another ‘easier said than done’ message, but you will give off a far better impression if you try some of the above steps. Lowering the head, slouching in a chair, sinking from hip to hip whilst standing will all give the impression of not taking care of yourself, or worse, not caring about your work. Chances are you’ll be overlooked for any promotions and may be first on the list to go when the redundancy round kicks in. Think tall thoughts, lead with your heart, and always remember to smile!
If you would like to improve your posture, contact Anna on 07986 250305 or email [email protected].
Image credit: Getty Images
October 15th 2021