Fidgeting and Your Career: Calm = Power

Here’s a great article on six subtle moves that could be holding you back from success. It’s aimed at women, and in my experience, it’s true that women tend to make moves that make them seem less confident.  (Of course, that could be because we judge “power” and “confidence” by the manly standard of strong and silent; but that’s another whole post.)

There’s little doubt that when a person stands quietly, with relaxed posture, she seems more confident.  Humans rely on hundreds of non-verbal signals when we’re communicating: smiles, involuntary grimaces and your eyes tell much more than what you say with words. We associate fidgeting with nervousness, and nervousness with unfavorable traits like dishonesty, guilt, or lack of self-control. 

 Fidgeting can also display feelings that you might wish you could suppress in business dealings.   Tapping your pen, jiggling a crossed leg, or almost any type of rapid, staccato movement, can betray your irritation with a speaker or an idea.   If you’re ill at ease or simply bored in a meeting, it will show.  Women fidget with earrings, jewelry or their hair when they get nervous; some men will clear their throat over and over or fidget with their ties.  These movements serve a purpose; in nature, animals will touch or lick themselves repetitively when under stress.  It soothes them and discharges stressful energy, and it makes sense that it would soothe us too.

 The challenge with correcting fidgety behavior is that you’re almost never conscious of it.  Ask a trusted friend, partner, or coworker how you react when you get nervous.  (Check out the other sabotaging behaviors as well.)  If you’re in a job search, you’re bound to be nervous going into interview.  If you can overcome any nervous tics you have, you may appear to be a confident and stronger candidate for the job. 

 In case it seems that I’ve targeted women as fidgeters, here’s a piece from about how to project “command confidence” for men.

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