Think hard about the last time you asked for something at work -- a raise, a promotion, time off -- but didn’t get it. Were you under prepared? Did you inadvertently say something offensive? If you’ve spent hours going over every word of your pitch and still can’t pinpoint your mistake, chances are it isn’t anything you said at all; it’s the way you said it. Specifically, it’s what you did with your shoulders.
“We are shruggers,” said former ATF investigator and communications expert Janine Driver of this common move unconsciously used by many women. “A shrug is uncertainty… So, when we ask for something, we are hurting our message.”
Driver recently sat down with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski to discuss better alternatives to “The Shrug,” moves that can help women project confidence. Here are some gestures to practice before heading into that next meeting:
Instead of folding your hands on your lap, try propping your elbows on the table and bringing your hands up to meet in a point, like a church tower. It may seem like a minor change at first, but making sure your hands are visible goes a long way in terms of looking and feeling powerful, according to Driver.
If the pose feels familiar, there’s a reason for that. “Guys do this one all the time,” she added.
The Forehead Stare
We’ve all been told about the importance of eye contact. You may be surprised to learn that in confrontational situations, it can help you gain the upper hand if you shift your gaze a little higher.
“If someone is disrespectful to us, look at the forehead,” said Driver. Breaking the eye contact and looking at the person’s forehead is as if you are talking down to the person without being overtly aggressive.
The Elbow Pop
If you want to go full Liz Taylor, try leaning back in your chair and draping one elbow over the back or arm rest, again making sure your hands are visible. This move channels some of the star’s famous attitude.
“It’s casual, it’s confident,” said Driver of the pose. “I’m taking up space and I’m saying, ‘I belong here.’”