6 Ways to Use Body Language to Boost Your Career

Sophie Miura

Benny Horne

Chances are you don't think twice about the way you stand, sit, or hold yourself, but the truth is that before you even open your mouth, your body language is already speaking volumes to those around you. While subtle, these nonverbal cues have the power to influence the way you're perceived in the workplace. The team at Inc. recently explored the body language secrets of successful people. Intrigued? Read on for our edit of the top six ways to use body language to boost your career today. 

Have you ever noticed that your body tenses up just before an argument? That's a natural reaction to minimise pain. According to Inc., tensing your muscles is a great way to prepare yourself for a tough conversation or meeting at work. "Flexing your muscles also helps you to stay more focused when you hear negative information," writes Jess Haden. 

Excellent managers use body language to connect with employees and make them feel understood. Researchers have found that subtly mirroring other people's body language can help build rapport. We often do this unconsciously to people we are close with, but it can be a great tool in the workplace to build relationships with colleagues. 

Harvard professor Amy Cuddy is a big fan of the "power pose." It's easy: Stand tall, drop your shoulders, and rest your hands firmly on your hips. Hold the position for a few minutes before public speaking and you'll notice your confidence builds. Cuddy found that people who used powerful body language were 86% likely to make a bold, risky decision, while only 60% of those in submissive poses would take a gamble. In other words, if you need an extra boost of courage, prepare yourself with a power pose. 

Stress can be a never-ending cycle. Here's why: When our face assumes an angry and frustrated expression (say, furrowed brow or pouting lips), it sends a negative signal to our brain. Your body interprets that signal to mean you're doing a difficult task, so it releases cortisol, which raises your stress levels. To stop stress in its tracks, smile. A study also found that smiling during a stressful task lowers your heart rate, even if it's not genuine.

Need an extra boost of confidence to get through a particularly difficult task? Science suggests the answer might lie in the way you stand. Crossing your arms around your midsection makes you feel more determined, and equipped to handle the task at hand. One study even found that crossing your arms reduced pain intensity by confusing your brain. 

This pose might seen crazy, but bear with us. Researchers from the Australian National University found that people were more creative and able to solve problems when lying down. Dr Lipnik, one of the study authors, explained the odd findings to PsyOrg. "In theory, there may be greater release of a chemical, noradrenaline, in the brain when standing up than when lying down," he says. "It's suspected that noradrenaline inhibits the abilities to solve anagrams and to think creatively." While more research is needed, these promising findings suggest your next creative breakthrough might hit when you're lying down.

Discover more about the body language secrets of successful people over at Inc. 

Keen to find out how body language can help you in the workplace? Shop the book below!

Have you found that changing your body language has helped you at work? Share your story below. 

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