Q&A #95: Making The Impression You’re In Charge

Question: During the veep debates, Melissa spoke of Palin’s offering a handshake first as a sign of dominance or power. I work in a high pressure oilfield job. In what other subtle, professional ways can I show my clients that I am the one in control, and that I own the situation?

Move with intention. That means walk with purpose, look up, make eye contact, body open.

Initiate contact. Reach out first.

Shake firmly. No fish hand shakes. Those give away your insecurity and anxiety.

Stand facing the person, feet facing them, so they know you’re a straight shooter.

Smile sparingly.

Speak slowly, calmly and with few words.

Stay calm. Watch Westerns and Mafia movies. The winners don’t flinch or yell.

Wear dark clothes. Dark clothes, dark trucks (hello Secret Service black Suburbans) send a message of power.

Maintain eye contact.

If you walk with some one, walk briskly and have them keep up. Know where you’re going.

Look sharp. Wild hair, wild tattoos, wild piercings say things about you and they say things that undermine your authority unless you run a tattoo and piercing parlor.

If you want to get a raise, dress at the level you want to be at, now. This might not be possible if you’re going from blue collar to white collar, but if you’re white collar, and want to move up: dress the part.

Oh! If the person you’re with is taller than you, suggest sitting to equalize the situation. And, give yourself the power position–your back against the wall. You should always face out. Always. If your desk at work leaves your back exposed, expect things to be going on “behind your back”. Change the orientation of your desk so you can face the door. Mafia bosses sit in the back corner for a reason–they can see everything going on.

Power. Your body language and how you conduct yourself either conveys strength, neutrality or weakness. Keep in mind, men, that women tend to be better at picking up body language signals. If you seem particularly dense about missing signals, have someone witness the situation who is better about it and get feedback and learn.

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