We all know how to walk, right? It’s easy. You just put one foot in front of the other and you get to where you’re going. Well, yes, up to a point. But when you enter a room or a building, when you walk around your place of work, people are forming an impression of you just by observing the way you move. If you want to make a positive professional impact, walk like a winner.
Power Up Your Posture
Let’s begin with your posture. Confident posture enhances your self-esteem and makes you feel good. It makes you look good as well. People respond to your confident aura and attribute to you qualities of authority and status. And of course, when you perceive that you are seen in this positive light you do actually feel more confident. Result.
It may be your natural instinct is not to stand up straight. Make a conscious effort to take an upright, open posture.
Imagine there is a piece of elastic attaching your head to the ceiling. You need to keep your head up at just the right angle to maintain the connection.
As you keep your head straight, your back straightens as well, and your shoulders go down. When you feel yourself slumping, imagine someone giving the elastic a tug. Up you go.
Walk the walk
The message you transmit is that all you want is to get from the door to your desk or wherever without anyone spotting you. It’s the ‘keeping out of trouble’ walk. It doesn’t inspire confidence.
If you take steps which are too long, you look as if you’re striding. This is fine in some circumstances, but could come across as aggressive rather than nicely confident.
Aim for a relaxed and purposeful walk. Move at an even pace and take even steps. Keep your head up and don’t swing your arms as if you are marching past Lenin’s tomb. Make your shoulders relaxed and keep your back straight.
There, you look good.
Don’t even think about running. Running at work is not a good look. Listen to the late lovely Kirsty MacColl, who turns down a range of exciting experiences with the reply, ‘In these shoes?’ Heaven knows how she would have responded to the idea of running to a meeting or to collect the coffee order.
Running implies that you are under pressure, losing control, anxious. Far from making you look important, it detracts from your authority.
In hospitals, in the olden days when wards were ruled by strict matrons, nurses were told never to run except in cases of fire or haemorrhage. Matron had the right idea.
Fill The Space
Confident people inhabit their space with ease and authority. They expand rather than shrink. This isn’t about invading other people’s space, but about making an impact with your presence. As you walk, imagine your body is like a balloon which expands to fill the space around you.
Make Eye Contact
Show that you are aware of the people around you. Get into the habit of making brief eye contact with everyone whose path you cross. Just a glance, an eyebrow flash, a slight smile. Confident people acknowledge the presence of others.
If you need to gear yourself up for a particular occasion, you could practise a full-on power pose. Go somewhere private. Stand as tall as you can, with your spine straight and your chest thrust out. (It’s all right, nobody can see.)
Keep your chin up. Plant your feet wide apart and put your hands on your hips.
Look straight ahead as if your gaze can stop a herd of charging buffalo. You will feel confident and powerful. Carry that feeling with you as you go off to your meeting or presentation or interview or tricky negotiation.
Of course, if you are facing real charging animals, forget all the above and run for your life.