Get a raise and find your power for 2018


By Dr Louise Mahler

To find a job or get a raise you need to present yourself in a positive light, but the most important part of that presentation is our non-verbal skills and this is an area often left untouched in our education.

Recent research published in the Harvard Business Review (Alex Pentland) reinforced what we have always known, that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it and it’s possible to predict success solely on the basis of social signals.

The good news is that, if you want to find yourself appearing more powerful to get a job or raise, there are things you can do other than know your material. And the rules are simple. They are well researched and ring obvious bells once you know.

Here are some ideas which you may never have thought about that overcome the common ‘tells’ of tension, keep you focused and raise your power to help you move forward.


  1. Don’t do ‘chair acting’. When we walk into a meeting or interview we often use the chair as a distraction. We look at the chair, pull out the chair, realign the chair and generally put a lot of focus on the meaningless chair. It is a sign of stress.
    Bring the chair pre-occupation up to awareness, stop it and move to the next step.


Do use leg brail. This is the way you walk to the chair and, instead of looking at it, you actually feel it with the backs of your legs. There is no need to look. Obviously you will know where the chair is from your peripheral vision, but you keep your eyes on the people you are meeting.


  1. Don’t lean forward

Although Sheryl Sandberg suggested that women ‘lean in’, this is a state of mind, not an actual physical activity. Leaning forward can alter your breathing and tighten your voice. It can be the cause of feedback that you are ‘being aggressive’ and is never a suitable look for an interview.


Do sit upright and move the power out of your upper body (forhead, mouth, chin, throat and chest) and into your lower body (legs, lower back and buttocks).

Tension in the upper body has two negative effects. Firstly, you look tense. Secondly, you actually block your ability to bring the most airflow to the conversation, where airflow represents volume and power of connection.


  1. Don’t move eyes wildly to irrelevant areas.


Do keep the eyes on the people to whom you are speaking. Shift the eyes for each thought and soften them by blinking approximately every four seconds. If you do look away, look at an item, like a pen, or ask permission to look away by saying “Oh, I would have to think about that”.


  1. Don’t misdirect with extraneous gestures. This can be a repetitive meaningless arm swing, or fiddling with clothes, or pulling the hair from your face or adjusting underclothes.


Do make gestures that are congruent with your thought and never repeat gestures more than twice.  Good and bad, for instance, can be on the right and left of your body.


  1. Don’t hide your hands under the table or under your legs. Hidden hands are a sign of deceit.


Do keep your hands visible above the table. If you are listening, rest them asymmetrically with one hand on the wrist of the other. If you are gesturing, keep them in front of your body.

Watch this video, to listen to Dr Louise Mahler critiquing the body language of politicians.

Find and release your inner power with an online course from our Life Coaches.

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