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How long do you have before you’ve made an impression? A day? An hour? 3 minutes? Incredibly research shows that it’s less than a second. Yes. A second. The rest of that second we spend looking for evidence that our initial assessment was right. We concentrate between 70% to 80% of our attention on non verbal communication so it’s crucial that your body language matches the words coming out of your mouth. Congruence is key.

Without the right non – verbals all of your influence, persuasion and assertiveness strategies are wasted, leaving you, well, looking like a bit of a pushover. Judging a book by it’s cover seems a little unfair to us so we’ve put together 5 tips to help you look like you mean business.

So what can you do to maximise your personal impact and truly look like you mean what you say?


Eye contact is one of the cornerstones of assertiveness. Look away too often and it lacks confidence, revealing your anxiety. Making strong eye contact, breaking it briefly every now and again to keep it natural is a much more confident start. If you find eye contact difficult, or if you’re met with a stoney stare cyborg style, stand your ground by aiming for a soft gaze between the eyes of the person you’re talking to. It will take the sting out of meeting their gaze for you and they won’t notice the difference.


Shouting is a huge no (you’ll lose credibility) whispering is just as bad (nobody will hear you) and it projects a lack of confidence. Aim for the middle ground, a calm, well modulated voice commands respect and demonstrates your self assurance. Remember to breathe steadily to reduce the physical symptoms of stress and prevent your voice from wobbling or trembling . Take a look at our mindfulness blogs for more tips and stress reduction strategies to keep you pitch perfect.


Use your hands to add authority to the points that you make during conversation. Affirmative hand gestures will add gravitas as you speak and stop you from fiddling with clothes, tapping pens or anything else which might act as anxiety ‘tells’ detracting from your words. Interlock your figures into a steepling gesture for maximum impact and a clever technique to prevent your fingers from faffing nervously.


Make yourself bigger. No, we don’t mean loom over your prey with menace when you want to be assertive, that’s just rude (and aggressive). Inhabit your space. Bring your awareness to what you’re doing with your body. Aim for open gestures. If you catch yourself making yourself look smaller, excusing yourself by crossing your arms or wringing your hands, pause. Open up your gestures instead for more confident presence. When you’re nervous your shoulders move up towards your ears as tension takes hold. Relax your shoulders and keep your head high. Now you look like you mean business.


Now feet. Yes, we said feet, the number one giveaway for anxiety. Think about what you’re doing with them. Are you tapping them, shuffling from side to side or nervously moving your legs? Both are telltale anxiety indicators and give the green light that you’re not sure of yourself. We say stamp that out and project self assurance instead. If you’re standing keep your feet hip width apart, knees relaxed for a strong, confident posture that will prevent you from shuffling or foot tapping and ground your core. If you’re sitting down, cross your legs or place them together to one side. Now you’ve got your non – verbal communication sorted you can get down to the business of really communicating your opinions, feelings and needs with self assurance

Want to find out more? Check out our Essential Assertiveness course on 8th December in London on our ‘Events’ page. We’d love to see you there! ‎

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