Use Body Language to Boost Confidence


Negotiations can be nerve-wracking. There is the anticipatory fear of how the other person will react to you, the general anxiety that comes with conflict and a desire to make sure you do everything you can to support your career. That’s a lot of pressure for one conversation.

Luckily, there are things you can do to boost your self-confidence when you’re feeling worried.

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School who studies how people influence one another and themselves. Her research on body language shows that striking a power pose for a few minutes can cause chemical changes in your body that improve your confidence.

Power poses are postures that take up space and open our bodies. Cuddy’s research revealed that holding a power pose for as little as three minutes boosts the body’s testosterone levels (a hormone linked to feelings of confidence) and lowers its cortisol levels (a hormone linked to stress). Cuddy’s TED Talk on body language and power poses has been viewed more than 35 million times.

“When we take up space, we feel like we belong in our space. This sense of belonging gives us the pride to believe that we can be successful,” says Vanessa Van Edwards, a body language coach and author of the blog The Science of People. Van Edward’s blog is full of practical advice on how to use body language to your benefit in all sorts of situations.

So sitting up straight isn’t only good for you — it’s powerful. If you’re meeting face to face with the other person, open your chest even more by throwing your arm over the back of the chair next to you or rest your hands on the table more than your chair’s width apart. Resist the urge to adopt a posture that has you curl in on yourself, even if you’re writing.

If you’re talking on the phone, feel free to go full-on Superman or Wonder Woman with your hands on your hips and your legs further than your hips’ width apart. At your desk? Kick your feet up on the table and lean back while you explain why they need to agree to your rate.

You don’t need to be 100 percent worry-free to handle a negotiation successfully. You just need enough confidence to get you through the conversation.

Katie Lane is an attorney and negotiation coach in Portland, Oregon, helping artists and freelancers protect their rights and get paid fairly for the work they do. You can read her blog at and follow her on Twitter: @_katie_lane.