Body language can be an incredibly powerful tool, particularly in the workplace. Your attitude, expertise and how you feel about yourself come through loud and clear by what you’re showing your audience.
That’s why Know Your Value’s Mika Brzezinski recently chatted with Keesha Boyd, an organizational psychologist and executive director of multicultural video and entertainment at Comcast, as part of Know Your Value’s “LEVELING UP” about body language. They shared strategies on how women can portray power, confidence and knowledge.
“It’s important to be mindful of your body language and to recognize that part of your role … when you’re speaking to a room of people Boyd said. “You have many tools at your disposal.”
Here are three must-know tips:
1. Keep your body language open
As Brzezinski explained, when she’s on the set of “Morning Joe,” having “open” body language goes a long way. For example, she said she keeps her hands in front of her and makes sure not to over-cross her legs. Boyd agreed that doing the opposite can send signals of being stressed, closed off, disengaged or trying to protect yourself. “Open” body language shows your audience you’re open to new ideas, engaged, and ready to collaborate. It can also signal confidence and security.
2. Be attuned to other's body language as well
Keesha shared a time when body language from others sent the wrong message.
“One time, I was moderating between two sides. This was a particular HR issue, and I’m in the room, and one thing that I can tell was that they didn’t agree on either point of view that the other was speaking about. But one thing they did agree on was that they did not want me in the room moderating this conversation,” Boyd said.
The two people in the room made no eye contact with Boyd, were looking over her head, never addressed her by name and didn’t acknowledge her in the moment. Boyd decided to call the situation out by identifying out loud the fact that neither of them wanted her in the room.
“It’s clear that you’re both in agreement that you really don’t want me to be the person having to negotiate this agreement, but here we are, and the sooner we can get to accord, the quicker you can get me out of this room,” she explained. By picking up on others’ negative body language and addressing it head on, you can then move forward and avoid any obstacles.
3. Remain aware of your eyes, arms, hands and legs
These are the top four areas of body language to focus on. “I’m mindful of how much eye contact I’m giving or not giving, and I’m mindful if someone is uncomfortable with the amount of eye contact I’m giving them,” Boyd said.
She also uses other best practices, such as bringing something (like a small marble) to keep in her hand to keep them less active. When it comes to her legs, she focuses on keeping a wide stance. “That grounding is super helpful for just being connected,” Boyd said.
Brzezinski suggested having a “ready” position, like you would in tennis, when you’re at the line and ready to start playing.
Once you master your body language, you’ll free up your ability to communicate in a confident, calm manner.
“You’re smart to center yourself in certain meetings, because there’s nothing more powerful than a rich, robust voice, speaking calmly and having a real sense of presence,” Brzezinski said.