You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
That’s what most of us were told as kids
But that’s not real life.
People judge all the time based on appearance.
Go to a job interview in shorts and see what happens…
Head to a movie date in a 3 piece suit and you’d be trying too hard.
This article will discuss 5 power signals that people subconsciously notice – and can give you an edge.
1) Wearing Surgeon Cuffs
These are jacket cuffs with functioning buttons which are known as “surgeon’s cuffs.
This style element gets its name from days when there were more physicians on the now iconic Savile Row than tailors.
Once the suit makers moved in, they catered to their clientele by designing jacket their clientele by making jackets with functional sleeve buttons that could be unfastened and rolled back like shirt sleeves.
This feature gave the Doctor the ability to work on a patient without removing his jacket, which is in stark contrast to the purely decorative and non-functional buttons that are attached to most suit jacket or blazer sleeves.
A gent who has a jacket that is constructed in this manner is communicating that he pays attention to detail and has an affinity for the classicism of menswear. Generally, high-end brands use this style convention in their designs.
2) Expensive Looking Accessories
Let’s be honest, there is an association of authority when someone is wearing an expensive piece of jewelry. Well-crafted and superbly designed accessories are noticed by more than fashion aficionados. When worn, these items will take a mediocre outfit and make it memorable. You can tell when it looks cheap so the goal is to get great pieces that are quality but won’t break the bank. Items such as:
Watches – expensive looking watches will have strong design elements such as quality leather straps and durable clasps. Often times the watch will look heavy which is associated with high quality and being well made. Timepieces that have intricate details such as beveled bezels, chronograph, or a canteen crown add perceived value as well.
Pocket squares and neckties – It’s all about the fabric and details. When these pieces are made from thick or exotic looking textiles will give the appearance of luxury. When something looks flimsy or weak, people don’t generally ascribe value to it. So focus on 100% cotton or silk kerchiefs and neckwear. Another design element to look at is the stitching that sutures the edges of the fabric. Heavy weight thread that’s noticeable yet stylish will make the accessories look extravagant.
Nothing says power like personalization. Monograms are usually a distinguishing factor of bespoke clothing. It’s sort of the cherry on top for having your items tailor made. It’s no secret that custom made clothes are expensive. For this reason alone you will look commanding.
But if you’re not able to afford to get a shirt or suit custom made, you can still achieve the look by getting off the rack items tailored. Again, the cherry on top will still be a monogram. This level of personalization can give you the same satisfaction as if the piece was bespoke. In order for the monogram to give off that classy vibe, there are a few rules that must be adhered to.
Placement – You want to make sure that your monogram is placed in an inconspicuous place. For shirts the signet should be one of the following:
- Sleeve cuff
- Sleeve gauntlet
- Placket bottom
There are different areas that are customary for jackets. They are
- Inside jacket flap (usually where the tag or inside pocket is)
- Under the collar
If the monogram is in a position other than theses expected positions, you might come across as trying too hard. This might make you look like someone who is uneducated about the conventions of style – and it won’t fare well for your power index.
4) Powerful Poses
Posture has a direct effect on the perception of a person. In fact, a Harvard University research team (headed up by Amy Cuddy) studied the impact that body language has on your hormones. She and her team categorized different positions as high power and low power. High power positions are open and not tense while low power positions are closed off and guarded.
High Power Poses:
- Standing with your hands on your hips and legs spread
- Standing with your legs spread and your palms face down on a table or counter
- Sitting with your legs open and feet flat on the ground
- Sitting with legs crossed and hands behind your head
- Sitting with your hands behind your head and your feet propped up
Each of these communicates dominance and that you are comfortable. This assertion was backed by the research. 42 subjects were observed. Each person’s testosterone and cortisol level was recorded via their saliva. Testosterone is the hormone that leads to increased feelings of confidence when the levels are high. Conversely, cortisol is the hormone that leads to intensified feelings of anxiety and stress when elevated/
Students were asked to get in a high or low power pose for 20 minutes.
Second sample of saliva was tested and hormone levels measured.
The results concluded that the folks who were in the high power poses had a testosterone level that increased by 20% and a cortisol level that decreased by 25%.
So if you want to be known as powerful, don’t just act like it – stand/sit like it too!
5) Dominating Handshake
In the same vein as a power stance, an exertion of physical strength is a good indicator of perceived or actual clout. By definition, handshakes should be firm. But how firm is too firm; how soft is too soft?
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study that everyone should pay close attention to their handshake.
A soft handshake could be considered as weak and that you lack confidence. This usually doesn’t translate well with employers and business associates.
On the opposite end of the scale, you shouldn’t try to break the other person’s hand.
The perfect handshake looks like this:
- Good posture
- Strong eye contact – Shows focus
- Use your right hand – old standard rule that comes from medieval days when gentlemen would check for knives up each other’s sleeves.
- Light yet firm squeeze – Asserts that you are present
- Hold the grip for two seconds – Any longer and you look desperate and weird
- Smile and have a pleasant disposition –Shows that you’re not a jerk
- Call the other person by name – If you are meeting someone for the first time and they say their name, repeat it back to them. For example. “Hi I’m Kevin”. “Nice to meet you Kevin, I’m Antonio”. This show confidence and an asserted dominance that’s commanding but not overpowering.
BONUS: Eye Contact
The right type of eye contact and the length of time can be a tricky thing to master. What is clear is that eye contact is necessary for communication and dominance in interaction.
Dr. Adrian Furnham of the University College of London stated in Psychology Today “People look at each other about 75% of the time when talking but only 40% of the time when listening. One looks to get, and keep, the attention of others.”
As such, keep the following in mind when gazing.
Don’t stare – it makes people uncomfortable and you will lose or never get your audience
Look away then come back to the eyes – This keeps tension down and the movement you make when looking way for a quick second will be perceived as active listening
Change your facial expressions – blank looks will make you look disinterested and can be considered rude. Smile, nod your head, or do some other action that will show that you’re not a robot.
Keep your eyes up – try not to let your gaze go below the neck. The person you’re talking to might think you’re trying to check them out.