3 Ways Body Language Can Get You Promoted

Getting ahead at work might be more about what you do than what you say, and we're not just talking about the stuff that gets discussed at your performance evaluation. In fact, a new study from Duke University found that winning people over might be as simple as mimicking their behavior.

Jennifer Merritt of Learnvest offers several tips for using body language to get ahead, including:

1. Mimic the boss's body language.

"It's known as the 'chameleon effect' because, in the same way that a chameleon changes the color of its skin to match the environment, people can change behaviors and mannerisms to mirror the person who they're interacting with," writes Merritt.

2. But don't overdo it.

Copy the right people, and you'll look attentive, attuned, and on the same page. Pick the wrong person, however -- for example, the one member of the interview panel that isn't engaged -- and you could look like you're bored or incompetent.

3. Smile.

Smiling can improve performance, even when you're stressed out. Frowning, on the other hand, can impede success. Merritt quotes body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, who writes that "when you grimace or frown while doing it, you're sending your brain a message: 'This is really difficult. I should stop.'" This in turn releases stress hormones, which then lead to more frowning, and so on, until smiling is literally the last thing you'd be inclined to do -- no matter how cheery your coworkers are.

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear from you! Do you pay attention to your body language? Has it made you more successful? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter, using the hashtag #MakeItHappen.

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(Photo Credit: usfbps/Flickr)

2 Comments

  1. 2 kate p 02 May
    "Gravitas" (with a smile). But yes...i agree with what philip says about the RIGHT people. But i don't agree with the "feminilization" of the work place. Ladies can be ladies anywhere. Serious workplaces will take u whether you're a smiling lady or a frowning man: IF you're good at your job. And anyway i would argue that the specific advise often given to "mimic" your successful boss in order to get promoted is, most often (as i can testify) followed by men who are only fooling yhemselves!!
  2. 1 gj philip 02 May

    It's dependent on the situation: If the situation is tragic, smiling isn't appropriate. The feminisation of the workplace has led to too much emphasis on what people appear to be, and not enough on what they are. When the 2001 tragedy  occurred, many female news anchors smiled their way charmingly through the early hours of it, until they were replaced by people that had the right gavitas.

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