Avoid this body langauge mistake in the boardroom

 In Body language

You can tell a lot about the confidence of people through how they seat themselves at a boardroom table – for example, at the start of a meeting. Less confident people will ‘allow’ the environment to orient them. More confident people will orient the environment to themselves.

Let me explain: Less confident people, as they approach a chair at the table, will often conform how they seat themselves, to the chair. That is, they will not move the chair. Rather they will shift their body to where the chair (the environment) is placed. You’ll see them slide their body into the chair. The message this conveys, is that they don’t feel confident or feel they the right to alter the environment. They want to minimize their impact on the environment.

More confident people will take the back of the chair and pull it away from the table. Then they will calmly move their body into chair, and adjust the chair and themselves into a place where they feel comfortable (often at an off-angle to the table). That is, they orient the chair (the environment) to themselves.

With the backdrop of the importance of first impressions, this seating of yourself sends a message of how confident you are.

Now with the ‘seating with confidence’ example above, the recommendation is not about displaying arrogance or overconfidence. Rather, it concerns a display of ‘comfort in your own skin’ through ‘owning’ and occupying space. (please see last week’s post on stature, for the positive impact of owning and occupying space).

The ‘how to apply’ for this post: In the next seven days observe and reflect on how others seat themselves at the start of meetings, and what messages of confidence or lack of confidence are conveyed. In addition, practice and reflect on confident seating of yourself.

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  • Nick

    Then there is the type of person who comes in and fiddles with the chair, adjusting the height, fixes the ‘lean back’, etc. This conveys to me a different persona i.e. someone not comfortable with change, someone who likes the environment to be just so. Can be a useful observation.

    BTW the above counts on you getting to the meeting first!

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