Being powerful has always been about how you make others feel when they are in your presence. If others want to listen to you or respect you when they are around you, it means you are powerful. Often, people will respect you and listen to you if you are worth respecting or listening to. This usually comes down to who you are, what you have done/achieved and what you have to say.
If you are an important person/celebrity, you’ll automatically command respect. If you have fought in the military or undertaken life-changing philanthropy projects, you’ll be respected. If you are a guru/geek and have words of wisdom/intelligence to share, you’ll be respected and listened to.
However, not all of us are celebrities, philanthropists or visionaries. Are there ways to ensure that people respect you/listen to you when you are in the room? Yes, in fact there are ways to do this and a lot of notable speakers and leaders tend to make full use of such techniques. Regardless of who you are or what you have to say, you can use a few simple tips to command power while you speak.
1) Eye Contact
One of the most important ways to engage a person and have them listen to you is to make eye contact. In fact, you should be making eye contact with a person atleast 60-70% of the time while you communicate with them. Have you ever looked into a person’s eyes and felt something or known something about them without even talking to them? For example, you may be able to tell that a person is unhappy by simply looking into their eyes. This is because eyes detect emotion, build connections and indicate interest.
In order to instantly engage and communicate your ideas effectively to a person, make sure you maintain eye contact for a significant amount of time. Having good eye contact also shows that you are confident. An ideal way to maintain eye contact would be to maintain it for 70% of the time while you are listening and about 50% of the time while you are speaking. This ensures that the other person does not feel uncomfortable. Usually, if you are engaged in what you are saying, you won’t even need to think about this. When you’re not looking at the person, you’ll most likely look to the side in an engaged manner and gradually look back. Avoid looking at your feet as this indicates lack of self-esteem or nervousness.
If you are self-confident, you’ll be happy to meet people and learn from them. Smiling makes you approachable and will help build a rapport with a stranger. The person will feel comfortable listening to you and it will also make you less nervous. When you smile, chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine are released which help you feel calm and less stressed. As smiling is contagious, the person you’re speaking to will smile back helping them relax as well and enabling you both to have a great conversation. Also, when you appear to be a nice person, you’ll be respected.
We have come across some really bad advice about how not smiling as a man will make you appear more dominant and help you command respect. Please take our word for it and don’t do this. Not only will it backfire but in the long run, you’ll lose any respect you have. Scowling and appearing unfriendly will only alienate others. If you are looking to build long-lasting confidence and respect, do smile when appropriate.
*Don’t fake a smile. If you smile all the time, even when the occasion does not call for it, you may be branded a fool and may even appear shifty. Just keep it natural and smile from your heart when you need to. But our advice is don’t hold back if you genuinely want to smile.
3) A firm handshake
One of the best ways to show your authority when you meet someone new in the professional and business world is a firm hand shake. A firm hand shake shows that you are confident, extroverted and happy to meet the person. Do not break the other person’s hand. Just make it a brief but firm hand shake. It show’s that you are in control.
Have you ever had a handshake with a person who barely gripped your hand? You’ll agree with us when we say it feels like it reeks of self-esteem issues, lack of confidence and interest.
4) Power poses
If you are looking to build up your confidence and feel more powerful, one of the things you could do when in your room or out of sight is to adopt a power pose. This sounds a bit cheesy but it does work. Legs slightly apart and hands outstretched for a few minutes releases testosterone, a hormone linked to power and confidence, and reduces cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. Studies from research at Harvard have shown that expansive poses help build confidence.
If this is infact true and power poses help build confidence, then you’ll feel powerful when talking to a person and they’ll feel it too. This means that they will respect you and will listen to you. Power poses would also be great if you’re about to give a presentation for that much needed confidence.
5) Hand gestures
If about 60% of our conversation is communicated through the eyes, then about another 20-30% is communicated through our body language. You may not realise it but a lot of what we say and how we say it is actually communicated through the way we move our hands when speaking. If you speak without any hand gestures, you may not fully convey your message to listener. However, if you speak while making hand gestures to explain what you are saying, the listener will understand you better.
Hand gestures also tend to hold the other person’s attention. They are drawn into what you are saying. If you observe speakers on stage, you’ll note that they combine speech with hand gestures to fully convey their message. The right gestures complement the words that have been spoken and give them enhanced meaning. Hand gestures contribute to the creation of a visual image of the words spoken.
5 body language secrets of powerful people/leaders
Are some people born naturally confident and hence powerful/leaders? This is debatable. We believe confidence is a result of your up-bringing and surroundings. If you were exposed to an open-minded and liberal society that encourages you to go after what you what, you are more likely to be confident. But even if you feel low on confidence and hence less in control, not to worry. You can start putting the 5 tips above to into practice. As with all things, practice makes perfect. Practising these tips with friends and family will enable you to become more confident and eventually it will become a habit. These tips will enable you to communicate effectively, build on your confidence and in turn give you that reputation of a powerful person and leader.
Disclaimer: Practise the power poses with your friends and family at your own risk 😉 (We usually advise that you practise them on your own)