By Stéphane Narcis
How to use nonverbal cues to make the right impression on others.
One may think that the most critical aspect of being a leader is communicating effectively. However, most people miss that it’s not just words that are categorized as communication. From hand gestures to eye contact, body language for leadership is necessary to consider. These nonverbal cues decide what impression you make and what impact you have on others.
Never underestimate the importance of first impressions. You can either come off as aggressive and rude or so excessively warm that you fail to make yourself look authoritative. The goal here is to have a balance. You need to be sure that you get perceived as credible while projecting openness and warmth.
You get to choose what sort of leader you want to be…Have you chosen yet?
Here are some of the best body language tips and tricks for leaders to make you stand out.
Think about what you want to convey: Your first impression.
The first thing is to be crystal clear on what you want to communicate. Do you want to make others comfortable when talking to you? Or are you trying to come off as an authoritative figure?
Whatever you are trying to do, remember to have a picture in your head so that you can adjust your gestures and posture accordingly. Talking without thinking and miscommunicating will make you lose confidence and, as a result, people won’t have interest in listening.
Focus on your posture.
Your posture is the first thing a person will notice when they look at you. If you are standing straight with your shoulders pulled backward, you can make yourself look confident. Similarly, if you’re slouching, the other person will think that you are uninterested and unprofessional. It’s best to have an erect posture or stand in a way that maximizes the space your body takes up.
You want others to see you as a leader, so sit without crossing your legs, keep your feet firmly on the floor (make sure they’re not close), and bring your elbows away from your torso.
Posture is an especially crucial part of body language for female leaders, who need to come off as confident and not get intimidated by others. Having a good posture can make you feel confident. Once you feel powerful, the rest gets easier.
If you want effective two-way communication, frowning isn’t the way to go. You may want to look assertive, but this can lead to others being uncomfortable talking openly to you. If you’re wondering how to have approachable body language, try smiling. Keep in mind that communication goes two ways. When you seem approachable, others will be able to express themselves without getting nervous or intimidated by you. You immediately remove a communication barrier by smiling and even develop a better relationship.
Lean in when listening.
If you have your arms folded in front of you or sitting backward, you can be intimidating. If this is not the impression you are intentionally going for, people can get convinced that you’re not open to ideas. Try to lean in when someone is talking to you to remove this barrier. A slight leaning position is enough, but don’t go too forward or you risk making them uncomfortable. With this approach, you seem interested and make a good impression.
Who knows, it might help you become a better listener!
Make appropriate eye contact.
Eye contact is a vital feature of the body language of influential leaders. Verbal communication needs nonverbal cues along the way to effectively convey a message. You can get fully invested in someone’s words when you make eye contact. However, don’t start staring now. You’ll make others uncomfortable. And don’t constantly look around, as it makes you seem nervous or uninterested, and resist the urge to glance at the time because it projects impatience and disrespect. The right amount of eye contact will ensure you have a substantial impact.
Make appropriate hand movements.
Hand movements can help you as you talk by enhancing the impact of what you say. If you avoid hand movements and keep your arms in one place, you can seem awkward and nervous. Exaggerated gestures can also have a similar effect. If your gestures are longer or faster, others may think you’re stretching the truth. You can lose credibility and power this way.
If you want to project yourself as an influential leader, use big but not exaggerated gestures. To show up as understanding and open, use minor gestures that don’t take up as much space. Ensure that your hand movements are smooth and controlled. They should stay between your waist and shoulders.
Consider keeping your arms away from the front of your torso to be perceived as open and sincere. If you keep your arms in front of you, it can give the impression that you need to defend yourself. This includes clasping your hands in front of your lower body.
You can show authority by rotating your palms downward or slowly rotating them upwards. Use them when you are trying to emphasize something.
Becoming inconsistent between your gestures and words can confuse others regarding the emotions you are trying to express. This will take away the power of your words, and you can lose credibility. To stay authoritative and trustworthy, become stern when you need to come off as intimidating, and put on a smile when you want to be seen as an open person. If you have trouble with consistency, try to keep a neutral expression.
Make sure you’re present.
Besides maintaining eye contact, cues such as nodding at the correct times and blinking less can make you look more attentive. Looking present will help you engage in conversation and leave an outstanding impression. It is a crucial aspect of body language for leaders.
It is easy to get intimidated and discouraged by others when feeling unconfident and nervous. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t master all these cues at once. Keep practicing, and you’ll have a leader’s body language in no time!
Stéphane Narcis is the founder and CEO of Stéphane NARCIS™. She is an online course creator, teacher of modern foreign languages, body language and lie detection expert from Réunion Island. His mission is to help leaders, teachers, and professionals in all industries to achieve their goals. Stéphane has always been a dreamer and an achiever. He understands that purpose exists in everything, and he believes you have two choices: to allow any unexpected or negative aspect of life to be a curse, or to turn it into a blessing. Stéphane’s philosophy can be summarized in a few words: Be your true self. Be whom you want to be. Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough because, in actual fact, they project all their insecurities on you. Connect to Stéphane at https://www.facebook.com/narcisstephane or https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanenarcis/