There's a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Are these body language mistakes pushing you right over it?
You need to be conscious of your body language. It's advice you've heard time and time again. But, in most cases, you're warned that your nonverbal cues could be making you look unconfident.
Shuffling feet, slouching, and small gestures--they're all evidence of a lack of self-assuredness that you do your best to avoid. But what about the exact opposite? Are there any body language habits that could be making you look arrogant?
Yes, there definitely are certain movements and mannerisms that can make you look cocky and big-headed. Avoid these common ones, and you're sure to send the right message.
1. Avoiding Eye Contact
"But wait!" you're likely thinking now, "I thought lack of eye contact was one of those things that could make me look unconfident."
And that's true. But, depending on your demeanor, avoiding direct eye contact with people can also serve to make you look incredibly arrogant.
Why? Well, to put it simply, it makes it look as though you're unwilling (and perhaps even too good) to actually engage in the conversation. Whether you're scanning the room for a better opportunity or repeatedly glancing down at your phone, it can easily make your conversational partner feel unworthy of your time and full attention.
2. Crossing Your Arms
We all know that this isn't necessarily the most approachable posture. Even if it's subconscious, this stance closes you off from others. It makes you look inaccessible and perhaps even a little angry.
You don't want to send the message that you're uninterested or too good to be there. So open up your posture. It instantly makes you appear friendlier and more willing to engage in conversations.
Also see 10 body language mistakes to avoid in interviews:
"If you don't, the interviewer will assume you are either insecure, don't have an appropriate answer for the question being asked, or are being deceptive. Does that mean it's true? No, but perception is everything in a job interview."
Reiman said smiling demonstrates confidence, openness, warmth, and energy.
"It also sets off the mirror neurons in your listener, instructing them to smile back. Without the smile, an individual is often seen as grim or aloof," she explained.
This may give the interviewer the impression that you're bored or uninterested in the conversation. Instead, keep your hands on the desk or table, and don't fidget.
In their book "Crazy Good Interviewing," John B. Molidor, Ph.D., and Barbara Parus suggest showing your palms during an interview — since the gesture indicates sincerity — or pressing the fingertips of your hands together to form a church steeple. which displays confidence, reports Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz.
"People don't realize that the job interview begins in the waiting room, but it does. So don't slouch in the chair in the reception area," she advised. "In order to be perceived as confident, you must sit or stand tall, with your neck elongated, ears and shoulders aligned, and chest slightly protruding."
This position changes the chemicals in our brain to make us feel stronger and more confident, and it gives the outward appearance of credibility, strength, and vitality, she explained.
Playing with your hair, touching your face, or any other kind of fidgeting can be a major distraction for your interviewer. It also demonstrates a lack of power, said Reiman.
This gesture will tell the interviewer you're not comfortable or you're closed off.
"When we touch our faces or hair, it is because we need self soothing,"Reiman explained.
Is that the message you want to send to your interviewer
A weak handshake may tell the interviewer that you're nervous, shy, and that you lack confidence, explains Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy, a customer experience consultancy, in a LinkedIn post.
Ideally, your handshake should be firm, but not overbearing. "The secret to a great handshake is palm-to-palm contact," Wood told Business Insider. You want to slide your hand down into the web of theirs, and make palm-to-palm contact. Lock thumbs, and apply an equal amount of pressure.
"It's okay to use your hands to illustrate a few important points," writes Lebowitz. "In fact, research suggests that staying too still can give the impression of coldness.
"But relying too much on hand gestures can be distracting, according to Molidor and Parus."
She says you should remember you're in a job interview, not a theater audition.
People tend to show their dominating personality by gripping the interviewer's hand and palming it down, but this tells the interviewer that you need to feel powerful, Reiman explained. "Instead, the handshake should be more natural: thumbs in the upward position and two to three pumps up and down."
As the applicant, you should always wait for the interviewer to extend their hand first, she added.
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3. Holding Your Chin Too High
This is another one of those times when you need to walk a fine line. To appear confident, you want to hold your chin up. But, take it too far, and suddenly you seem condescending.
People do not like to feel that someone is literally looking down at them when speaking. So make sure to strike a balance here.
Focus on keeping your head level. That way, you won't run the risk of muttering to the floor, but you also won't take this confidence booster to the extreme.
Remember when you were younger and your mom would lecture you to not point? There's a good reason--it can easily come off as a rude and aggressive gesture.
Unfortunately, it's a trap that's a bit too easy to fall into. Whether you're waving your finger around in a heated discussion or simply trying to direct someone to the appropriate place, pointing often feels natural.
But, if you want to stick to the safe side, do your best to avoid it and gesture with an open hand instead. It achieves the same result, without being quite so combative.
5. Checking Your Watch
This one should be obvious. However, if you've ever been engaged in a conversation with someone who continues to not-so-subtly glance at his wrist (or the time on his phone), you know that far too many people do this very thing.
Of course, this gesture immediately portrays a high level of boredom--as if you're checking the time to see how soon you can escape. It's another one of those habits that make you appear to think that you're too important to be there. So do your best to avoid it.
Yes, letting out a deep sigh can feel good every now and then--but that doesn't mean you want to do it while someone else is speaking.
While you might not necessarily consider it body language, it's still a nonverbal cue that can send a pretty strong message. Most people equate sighing with being uninterested, exasperated, or judgmental about what's being said.
Even if that wasn't your intention, a heavy sigh will almost always be taken the wrong way.
7. Forgetting About Your Facial Expressions
A completely deadpan face can cause you to look unconfident and unengaged, so you want to make sure to be expressive. But you also need to be careful about what expressions you use.
An obvious eye roll, a raised eyebrow, or pursed lips can all make your conversational partner feel uneasy and self-conscious. You're better off keeping your facial expressions as neutral (and polite!) as possible.
Much of the advice you hear about body language advises ways to tweak your mannerisms to appear more confident. But you don't want to swing so far in that direction that you come off as cocky. Stay away from these seven common habits, and you'll avoid falling into that arrogance trap.
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