Women in Business: 8 Tips to Help You Exude Confidence at Work

Sheryl Sandberg introduced the concept of “leaning in” as an aspect of body language that aids people with their career development. Sandberg makes the argument that women in corporate and professional environments fail to get ahead due in part to body language that reflects poor self-confidence. The following tips will boost your confidence at work and help you garner respect.

Stand tallbusiness woman

Stand straight with your shoulders back and head up. This stance gives off an air of confidence that just isn’t there when you slouch. Make use of height and space; it’s a nonverbal way of demonstrating you are prepared to negotiate or discuss business.

Make eye contact

People expect eye contact and tend to distrust those who look away or cannot meet their eyes. Always make eye contact when saying hello and goodbye to someone. Need a cue to determine if you’re doing it for an appropriate length of time? Look long enough to know the person’s eye color.

Perfect your handshake

A good handshake is vital. Clammy hands and a light grip give the impression you are “soft” and won’t remain firm in your decisions; a crushing handshake indicates you may be willing to bully your way to gain approval. Practice your handshake with a friend or family member to find the right balance of firm and pleasant.


People might underestimate the importance of a smile, but smiling makes a positive impression on just about everyone. It shows your colleagues or other professionals that you are approachable, and in the face of an obstacle, it demonstrates you can tackle the problem in an uplifting but realistic manner.

Invest in a business suit

Purchase a well-tailored business suit that flatters your body type. You want to look polished and feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to splurge on this staple, it will help in every facet of your professional life. Looking the part will help you gain an edge when negotiating or giving a presentation. The last distraction you need is fidgeting with your outfit or fumbling with a button that fits too snug. Any amount of distraction might diminish your ability to effectively present your argument or stance.


Accessories can really bring your at-work look together and bolster your confidence, but make certain you choose pieces that are appropriate for the workplace. Wear unscuffed shoes with a flattering heel to help you stand tall and exude confidence. Carry a classic, well-made handbag and keep jewelry understated and simple—a small pair of earrings, a watch and a bracelet should work well.

Use perfume sparingly

Smelling good is important, of course, but don’t overpower the room with a strong scent. A subtle and light body spray will do.

Keep hair & makeup professional

Don’t show up at work with wet or unkempt hair or heavily painted-on makeup. Pick colors that are suitable for a workplace environment.

Attire and body language feed into one another, and by presenting your best self, you’re in the best position to be viewed as a professional, competent woman who means business.