Is your body language helping - or hurting - your career?

When properly used, body language can be your key to greater success. It can help you develop positive business relationships, influence and motivate the people who report to you, improve productivity, bond with members of your team, and present your ideas with more impact. Take a look at Carol Goman’s article on Forbes' website -- a dozen tips for using body language to project confidence, credibility, and your personal brand of charisma.

Victor1558 / Foter / CC BY

Goman’s tips on body language hit many key points squarely on the head.  How we are view or branded depends so much on how our physical appearance comes across to others we meet, work with or socialize with. Our presence is conveyed in how we carry ourselves in daily life.  From the first handshake and looking in the eye to the final salutation and departure.  Our initial and ending interactions are what form the lasting memory of our brand.

The points that Goman makes about a firm handshake, our physical posture and stance to our voice pitch can make a dramatic difference when looking for a job or keeping a job. Here's my take on her advice - Tom's Top Ten Body Language Tips:

1. Stand Tall 

Assertiveness is displayed through confident posture, as well as a strong work ethic.  Those of us who stand with our shoulders square, and backs straight, rather than leaning or hunched over, diplay and proud and leader-like stature.  Consider the movies you've seen in the past that depict a heroic figure, Batman, Superman and Superwoman are all picturesque posers.

2. Widen Your Stance

Stand with feet somewhat apart and a balanced look – confidence will be your brand. Owning your space starts with proper positioning.  Similar to a line backer, with feet spread apart it is much more difficult to be bowled over with a wide stance than for someone with crossed legs.  Which player do you want to be in a conversation?

3. Lower Your Vocal Pitch

The higher the pitch, the less projection of confidence and more of nervousness. Barry Manilow is all over this one. Goman says, "Speakers with higher-pitched voices are judged to be less empathic, less powerful and more nervous than speakers with lower pitched voices."

4. Try Power Priming

Remember those times when you felt the most confident and bring that feeling back when you are approaching a major meeting or engagement. The same way an Olympic athlete mentally prepares him or herself to win a gold medal through visualization, this same tactic can bring a gold to your office.  Preparation is key as well, planning talking points, anticipating objections and even playing out a rejection will help you handle any scenario when the big day arrives.

5. Strike A Power Pose

Stretch out before you go into a power meeting or discussion – tune your body to bring up your confidence.

6. Maintain Positive Eye Contact

A no brainer!  Look the person in the eye to convey confidence and truth and to show you mean business! Eye contact should be two-thirds direct eye contact, and one-third not looking directly at the person.  Maintain eye contact when the other person is speaking to ensure that your speaker knows you are engaged in the conversation.

7. Talk with your Hands

Use open gestures that can help emphasis your points when speaking – keep palms of hands open to show nothing to hide. Be sure to keep your movements minimal and within the frame of the body.  Over zealous gestures can be distracting and detract from the message you are trying to convey.

8. Reduce Nervousness

Take a deep breath and be conscience of where your hands and feet are – keep hands flat on your lap or folded – feet flat on the floor and not tapping or fidgeting.

9. Smile

Everyone likes a person who smiles and is genuine – not a phony smile!  A smile can be spotted a mile away and can bring a returned smile from others as a normal reflex!

10. Firm and Genuine Handshake

As we meet and depart, the handshake is the key of physical connectivity and trustworthiness.

For a few more pointers, check out this infographic from