Historically my posture has been pretty terrible. Unless I really think about it, I walk around shoulders hunched and head down my body taking on the contour of a 90 year old woman with osteoporosis. My look screams “lack of confidence” and “submissive”. Over the past few years, however I have discovered the importance of making changes to my stance and experiencing the positive effects of tweaking my posture.

Making a few small changes to your body language can revolutionize your interactions with others. It instills confidence in your words translating into more professional opportunities. For new graduate nurse practitioners, whether applying for a job or interacting with those first few patients independently, brushing up your body language can make a huge difference in the outcome of these interactions. Here are a few tricks for tweaking your body language.

Lean In

I’m not talking about Sheryl Sandberg’s hit book here. Slumping back in your chair as you speak or listen projects insecurity. Rather, lean slightly forward into the conversation to show you are interested and engaged. Note-leaning in is different than leaning over. Your back should be straightish rather than folded offer your elbows on the table.

Keep Nervous Habits in Check

Are you a nail biter? A hair-twirler? Whatever your nervous habit might be, if you want to come across more confident and experienced than your new grad status, keeping your nervous habits in check is a must. Placing your hands against your legs or on the table when you talk may help remind you to stop fidgeting.


The first thing I learned when I began doing TV appearances as a healthcare voice was to smile. Smiling makes you seem approachable and comfortable-a must for any patient conversation. So, put those pearly whites on display.

Make Eye Contact

If you want to be persuasive or taken seriously, you need to make eye contact This can be difficult as a new grad as you may have some level of uncertainty about what you are saying. It’s OK. Admitting with appropriate eye contact that you aren’t sure about something but need to look it up goes over much better than a detached, resigned “I don’t know”.

Speak Up

You don’t want your next interview to leave your interviewer reminiscing about the “low-talker” episode of Seinfeld. Speaking too softly conveys a lack of confidence. Your ideas are worth sharing so make them audible. If you need some ammo for your next nurse practitioner interview, check out this post.

Avoid Arm Crossing

Crossing your arms is a major fail when it comes to body language. The posture causes your body to slouch and shrink in size-not a position of power and confidence. Rather, hold your hands in front of you while standing or fold them on your knees or on the table when sitting. Put your shoulders back and sit or stand up straight. Taking up space with your body conveys confidence.

Talk With Your Hands 

Talking with your hands (within reason) actually helps you think and speak more clearly. The process activates Broca’s area in the brain resulting in increased cortical activity. Not to mention, talking with your hands a bit helps you maintain an open and relaxed posture, a definite plus in making a solid first impression on patients and prospective employers.

Give a Firm Handshake

Whether you are entering a patient’s room or the office of a hospital CEO, step in and give a firm handshake. You don’t need a kung fu grip, but a weak grasp reveals insecurity. Approaching a prospective employer with a professional handshake will make a positive initial impression, the first step in helping you overcome your new grad status.

Not only does tweaking your body language change the way others perceive you, it even leads to chemical and hormonal changes within your body helping to perform to the best of your abilities. Pay attention to your body language as you start your nurse practitioner career and results are sure to follow.


For more body language hacks for new grad nurse practitioners, check out the video on this blog post-The TED Talk Every New Grad Nurse Practitioner Must Watch


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