In healthcare, confidence and trust are important characteristics for job and patient/client interaction. You have to present a confident, assured posture. Your conversation and verbal interactions must match up with confident body language.
Five types of body language, especially for women, give a less than confident message, according to an American Express’ Open Forum article. Whether you’re interviewing for your next position, or working with patients or physicians at a clinic or hospital, watch out for these poses.
Crossing your legs at the ankle while standing is comfortable, but for body language, it can make a woman appear timid and insignificant. Standing that way also makes you a little off balance and unstable. Women should stand straight with a balanced, level stance to appear more confident and in control.
Think Adam and Eve in the Garden, after enjoying the apple. The fig-leaf pose—hands crossed demurely in front, arms extended can make someone look unimportant. Perhaps a little nervous and guilty? Something to hide? Women especially need a stronger stance. Without the side pants pockets to hide their hands like men have, women should let arms and hands hang down at the sides for a powerful stance.
Watch a group of women talking and you’ll see a lot of bobbing heads. Watch the body language at a conference table. The men are sitting up straight, but the women listen with a little tilt to their heads and a little bobbing. Are they agreeing? Maybe, maybe not. Women give mixed messages when they nod “yes” repeatedly and then express their negative feelings. It can be confusing and make women look indecisive. Keep your head still and square on your shoulders for a more confident, assured impression.
You may be a friendly person, have a great smile and like to get up close and personal. That type of body language is great when you’re looking for a date, but gives some mixed and unwelcome messages in the workplace. Regardless of how businesslike you try to be, your flashing smile can look like flirting, especially if it is matched with long, languid eye contact. Add a little head bobbing and you may find yourself with a date instead of a job. Or, you could find yourself the subject of a sexual harassment charge. Comfortable eye contact lasts about 10 seconds. Keep the flashing smiles for cocktail hour with friends. Healthcare professionals have to be careful about giving mixed signals to patients who are vulnerable and can mistake a good bedside manner and caring actions for something more.
Fidgeting with your hair, picking off lint, opening and closing your glasses or chewing on the end of a pencil are all annoying body language habits that can diminish your professional image. The problem is some of these are such a habit that you don’t even know you’re doing them. Before you go on an interview, ask a trusted friend to give you an honest evaluation of your body language. Clasping and unclasping your hands is not only distracting, it makes you look anxious and afraid. A little honest feedback and some practice can get those habits under control and you looking and feeling your best.
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