5 Body Language Tricks to Get Ahead at Work

I love people-watching. It never fails to fascinate; perhaps it’s my Meyers-Briggs personality combination, perhaps my obsession withNancy Drew as a child. Whatever the reason, my penchant to go beneath the surface of people–to not just hear what they say, but why they say it–is woven into the fabric of my being. So I was thrilled when body language expert, Carol Kinsey Goman, author of the new book, The Truth About Lies in the Workplace, wrote a piece in our June/July issue on the secrets of body language for women to help them succeed in their careers.

Studies have found that thoughtfully reinforcing verbal dialogue with accurate non-verbal cues can carry a message farther, especially in the workplace. In fact, it makes more than four times the impact on first impressions than any words we say. So here are five quick tips from Goman’s free downloadable e-book, Body Language for Women Who Lead.

Vive la différence! Goman asserts that men and women speak different languages, especially non-verbally. This is important to accept as a starting point before trying to master your own personal body language style. While there is no right or wrong communication style, it is important to understand the environments where a woman’s feminine genius may have the advantage.

Women tend to excel in collaborative work environments where listening skills, inclusiveness, and empathy are key; whereas men are viewed as more successful in environments where a strong sense of decisiveness takes priority. Men typically approach people from the side, whereas women approach from the front. Men actively listen with a minimum of eye contact or verbal feedback–a poker face, so to speak–while women consider eye contact and nodding important response signals.

I Whip My Hair Back and Forth. When we ladies are nervous, we can resort to little tics and sometimes these undermine an assertive persona. Some examples are twirling our hair, smoothing it down, putting it behind our ears, running our hands through it–you get the idea. These are signs of preening commonly associated with courting behavior. Simply put, it can be distracting in the workplace. To avoid this communication pitfall, use a little hairspray to tame fly-aways, or plaster your hands to the desk and make an effort not to move them.

Don’t be a bobble-head. Think of that pet pooch you had as a child. When the pup is curious about something, he tilts his head to look at you. Women do that, too, and it may be cute, but according to Goman it’s also a sign of submission. When we tilt our head while listening to someone, we may convey compassion or receptivity; we can also convey weakness and may not be taken as seriously as a leader. So try to look straight ahead!

The eyes have it. How many times have you been in a crowded room and tried to talk to one person, only to see their eyes dart back and forth, looking for the next person to talk to? It’s inconsiderate, and frankly signals that the person is closed to your ideas. Avoid this pitfall by keeping a direct gaze, which conveys presence, confidence, and that we’ve showed up. To help you, consider intentionally trying to remember the person’s eye color.

Speak up or down? According to Goman, women commonly use five verbal tones when speaking compared to men’s three; we use them to convey our emotions, but also our thoughts. Often women end phrases on the up tone, almost as if we’re asking a question, when we’re actually making a statement. To ensure that our declarative statements remain assertive, Goman suggests, “use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and drops back down at the end.”

Every work environment calls for different modus operandi, of course, but Goman’s tricks are helpful in gaining respect and nurturing productive working relationships. So why not tuck these little gems away and begin slowly implementing them while at work. Perhaps they can help take your management position to the next level, or help you nail that promotion you’ve been dreaming about. As Goman’s research shows, we can speak volumes without ever saying a word.

This article was written by me and first appeared at Verily Magazine.

5 Ways to Take a Parisian Vacation Without Ever Leaving Home

Call it a breakdown, an impossible dream, or a quarter-life crisis, but my 27th birthday was approaching and I had to get away. No more sirens, hustle and bustle, trash on street corners, or neighbors who party way too late. What I was looking for was a little rest and relaxation, all alone, far away—to really unplug.

I was trying to slow down, and vacationing in France was a welcome change of pace from the frenetic Manhattan madness. Now that I’m back, I’m savoring the memories and integrating many of the habits I picked up into my daily all-American life. The fact is, not everyone can fly to a foreign country to get away from it all. So—drawing on my time spent in Paris—here are 5 ways to bring vacation to your every day.

1. Step off the beaten path. One of the thrills of vacation is the excitement and wonder that comes from discovering the unfamiliar. Give yourself that same feeling by mixing up your daily routine.

Always take the same route to work? Strike out on a new path, try a different block—or better yet—leave extra early in the morning and stop at that new coffee shop you’ve been meaning to try. You’ll march into the office with a fresh glow and a spring in your step—humdrum just got happier!

2. Amble. As a New York City girl, I can speed walk with the best of them. When I was in France, I was refreshed by the lack of accelerator. Leaving the house 10 minutes early gives you ample time to amble your way to your daily destination. You might be surprised at the details you notice when they no longer exist as a blur in your periphery.

3. Eat…slowly. I am a repeat offender when it comes to eating lunch in front of a computer screen, or worse, forgetting it altogether. But in France, meals are sacred, sometimes lasting 3 to 4 hours. Eating your food at a leisurely pace is also scientifically beneficial. Studies show it takes the brain 20 minutes from the time you start eating to register that it is full. This means refraining from inhaling your food will prevent overeating. So sit back, and enjoy the texture and flavor of your meal!

4. Set boundaries at work. As a social media junkie with at least six different channels to interact with friends online, it is difficult to unplug. Throw in a culture fueled by productivity and consumption and I’m sucked into a spiral of checking off the “to-do” list and updating statuses. But in France, the maximum work week is 35 hours and some families turn off the internet and social media outlets at night just to focus on their relationships.

Find boundaries that work for you and communicate them to colleagues and friends. While it can be scary to say “no” to the pressing deadlines, reclaiming you time energizes you and your job will benefit in the long-run. Not to mention, you will begin to discover the you that exists outside of your job, and that’s a beautiful thing.

5. Do that thing. Don’t wait for a vacation to start crossing things off your bucket list, you can start with the small things now. Perhaps it’s sketching the autumn hues at the park near your house, going for a picnic and taking in the crisp dusk air, tasting a sampling of newfound cheeses, or cooking that Pinterest recipe. Vacation can be a mindset… one that leaves room for something new. So take a Saturday and hop to it!

As is usual for most people at the end of a great trip, I wanted to package up all the memories of France into a little bottle to save for later. But armed with these lessons learned, I’m hopeful that I can change the phrase “I left my heart in Paris,” to “I live Paris every day.”

This article was written by me and first appeared at Verily Magazine.