Creating Your Business Swagger : Under30CEO Creating Your Business Swagger : Under30CEO
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Creating Your Business Swagger

| March 10, 2010 | 11 Comments

scarface business swaggerThe primal nature of subtle social cues and what they mean to our subconscious.

What’s with the strut? Psychologically there are many cues that denote the feeling of confidence. They display our intent, betray our falsehoods and reveal our attractions. Many of these actions we cannot control and some of the micro twitches in our face, that we consciously miss, can be picked up by our subconscious which leads to the gut reactions we feel about people. Assume you’re in a conversation with a colleague:


The most important indicator of status, the eyes can establish dominance, or subservience. Sounds dramatic but its true, when addressing people it is always considered proper to look into their eyes. For most people this can be difficult, there is an uneasy feeling associated with looking in the eyes of another. Especially in same-sex encounters it is important to maintain eye contact. Most times we know who the more dominant figure is, but when status is in question the eyes are often a deciding factor for the amount of respect you gain from the opposite party. Look away and you’ve lost the battle for respect, the other person feels as though they made you look away or uneasy, a subconscious cue for a bow of dominance. This allows them to take the reigns of the conversation or relationship. This reflects poorly on you as well as makes you seem self-conscious.


Second to the eyes, the mouth plays an important role in determining your intent or mood. Disarming a situation is one genuine simile away. The difference between a genuine smile and one that is easily detected as fake or malicious is the micro twitches at the corner of the mouth. When you force a smile these twitches alert the opposite persons subconscious to your mood or intent. Remember this the next time a fake smile is forced, most people can tell.


Although the movement is not attributed to the chin, the elevation of the chin in relation to the shoulder will determine if a person seems depressed or arrogant. Too high and the prevailing reaction will be that this person has a large ego and knows how important he is. Averting the eyes down along with the chin exposes a mood of depression; chin down with eye contact portrays a sinister intent. One of the most important tips is the continuity of eye contact, this usually insures that the chin reflects the right intent and remains at the correct elevation.


Shoulders back or shoulders forward? Shoulders forward show the world that you are slightly closed off, depressed, shy, or all of the above. The reasoning behind holding the shoulders back is to portray good posture, which is more attractive and authoritative then the opposite. This is just one small piece of the business swagger puzzle.


In a sense our hands provide a visual cue to describe the words we are saying. The most effective way to use the hands is descriptively to help the listener understand a certain piece of a presentation or conversation. For example the hands could be used to show the difference in height for the comparison of 2 objects.


Some examples of swagger in a walk motion are to keep the speed of the walk high but not uncomfortable. The walk should portray that you have a purpose, somewhere to be. It should be slow enough to show that the person is not late. Walk with purpose to add an air of authority to your business swagger.


Work on each piece of the puzzle and eventually build a complete business swagger portraying importance and authority to all who see it. Remember as much as entrepreneurs hate it, a lot of the authority and status are derived from visual cues.

Brain Cox can be found at where his passions include web design, marketing and innovating. Follow him @absolutpurpose

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  • Chris C. Ducker

    Great article. Really good points – especially on the eyes…

    But, don't forget attire. What we wear in any given situation can mean a lot…

  • Brian Cox

    That is a great point. Clothing says a lot about a person, even if it isn't the most expensive suit on the block. Special attention should be made to make sure we are dressed properly for any occasion.

  • Jared O'Toole

    The eyes point is great. You can definitely get a feel for someone right when they look at you. The confidence is either there or it isn't.

    I also think the shoulders play a big role. Keep that posture up and you will come off a lot stronger.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Brian, great article–I like the pic. How do you know all this stuff about body language?

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • Brian Cox

    I have a great interest in the subject, I've spent a lot of time reading psychological articles which focus on the subtle pieces of our body language. After a while its very easy to read social cues, I find it especially helpful when important conversations happen to take a wrong turn. It is essential to keep those business contacts not only interested but comfortable.

    Once I did some research I found it easy to pick up the cues from observing people I interacted with, I saw the changes in body language and adjusted the topic of the conversation or my own body language to ease the emotions of the other person.

  • Andrew Hill

    Good stuff, I have a bit of interest in body language and subconscious and whatnot too. I'm surprised you left out arms, and legs and hand positions. You talk about using hands as visual cues but don't mention that if you're listening to not fold your arms, place them near your crotch, etc which are all defensive body language positions, especially when the arms are stiff. Keep legs and arms loose and with arms a bit turned so the under side is more exposed, this shows a more relaxed posture etc. Also when listening if you can't stare into the eyes, look between their eyebrows, its very rare someone can tell the difference. Also try to lean forward a bit and not interrupt people while they are speaking to you, you'll make them feel like a million bucks. Granted, all this is much easier said than done.

    Forcing yourself to at the very least “pretend” to have this swagger and relaxed air can actually convince yourself that you do due to muscle memory and associated thoughts and stuff. Interesting to say the least. “What got you here, won't get you there” by Marshall Goldsmith has some great info on this stuff as well (more in terms of listening)

    Good stuff,

  • Clinton Skakun

    It’s funny when you walk in the mall and look at how everyone walks, it’s easy to tell what they are thinking. If you copy the way they walk you begin to feel the same way. Same thing goes for the mirroring of other body language. We judge by appearance but I think we also evaluate a person by the way they carry themselves. The body features you describe here are somewhat related to the alpha male features displayed in dating or when showing dominance. All people of both sexes are attracted to confident, comfortable people. And I think it’s important to asses your own body language and make sure it matches the kind of outward perception you want other people to have of you. Like mentioned by Mr. Drucker, clothing plays a part as well. For instance, I notice that red makes me feel extremely confident and energetic. Wearing clothes that are the right size, clean, new and in style is like a rudder that steers the whole ship of what mental state you have.


  • Brian Cox

    I'm glad that you mentioned the points about your hands and the tip about looking between the eyes. I did leave some stuff out, you're right. The point about not interrupting is also a good one to practice, sometimes we are so excited that we jump the gun which expresses disrespect.

  • Brian Cox

    I'm glad that you mentioned the points about your hands and the tip about looking between the eyes. I did leave some stuff out, you're right. The point about not interrupting is also a good one to practice, sometimes we are so excited that we jump the gun which expresses disrespect.