10 Body Language Tricks to Power Up Your Career in 2016
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language can be your greatest career asset. Here are ten simple and
powerful tips to help you have a super successful 2016:
To make a great first impression, begin before you enter the room.
business interactions, first impressions are crucial. Once someone
mentally labels you as “likeable” or “untrustworthy, ”powerful” or
“ineffectual,” everything else you do will be viewed through that
filter. If someone likes you, she’ll look for the best in you. If she
mistrusts you, she’ll suspect devious motives in all your actions.
study at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
that discovered it takes the brain just 200 milliseconds to gather most
of the information it needs from a facial expression to determine a
person's emotional state. That’s why you can’t wait
until you’re in the meeting room to “warm up.” You’ve got to walk in,
already expressing the emotions you want to project.
2) To dramatically increase your professional
impact, make eye contact like Goldilocks.
Too much eye contact is
instinctively felt to be rude, hostile and condescending; and in a
business context, it may also be perceived as a deliberate intent to
dominate, intimidate, belittle, or make the other person feel at a
little, on the other hand, can make you appear uneasy, insincere, or
uninterested. In its analysis of patients’ complaints, for example, one
large county hospital found, that 9-out-of-10 letters included mention
of poor doctor-patient eye contact; a failure which was generally
interpreted as “lack of caring.” (To improve your “too little” eye
contact, make a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you
the right” amount of eye contact - the amount that produces a feeling
of mutual likability and trustworthiness - will vary with situations,
settings, personality types, gender and cultural differences. As a
general rule, though, direct eye contact of about 60% of the time
during a conversation - more when you are listening, less when you are
speaking – makes you seem attentive, interested and informed.
To boost your self-confidence, ditch your cell phone and buy a
may be familiar with research from Harvard and Columbia Business
Schools about the effects of expansive physical poses -- feet wide
apart, body erect, hands on hips (think “Superman” or “Wonder Woman”).
Studies show that holding this kind of “power pose” for just two
minutes raises testosterone levels (the hormone linked to power and
self-confidence) and lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone.
did you know that this hormonal effect is actually reversed when you
tuck your chin in, round your shoulders and contract yourself
physically? In that posture, you lower your testosterone level – and
its corresponding feelings of confidence – while increasing cortisol.
instead of hunching over your smart phone, try leaving it in your purse
or briefcase while you wait in the lobby for an upcoming meeting.
Instead, take out a newspaper, and read it sitting up straight with
your feet firmly on the floor, and your arms spread wide to hold the
paper open. By putting your body into this expansive posture, you will
not only feel more confident and certain when the meeting starts, you
will also be perceived that way.
To build instant and lasting rapport, touch someone while saying “the
is the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cue. In the workplace,
physical touch and warmth are established through the handshaking
tradition, and this tactile contact makes a lasting and positive
impression. A study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade Shows
showed that people are two times more likely to remember you if you
shake hands with them. The trade-show researchers also found that
people react to those with whom they shake hands by being more open and
can, however, go beyond the handshake and create a lasting, positive
impact by adding a single word to a brief touch, because touching
someone on the arm, hand, or shoulder for as little as 1/40 of a second
is enough to create a human bond. Here’s how to do it: When you meet
someone and they tell you their name, find a way to repeat that name
later in the conversation. And as you do, touch the person lightly on
impact of this combination comes from the fact that you have aroused
positive feelings in an individual by remembering and using her name
(the magic word for all of us), and as you touch her arm, those
positive emotions get linked to your touch. Then at subsequent meetings
you can reactivate that initial favorable impression by once again
lightly touching your acquaintance’s arm.
To reduce resistance, don’t allow people to double-cross you.
who are defensive, guarded or resistant may protectively fold their
arms across their chests. And when you see that gesture coupled with
crossed legs (what I call the “double cross”) you can be fairly sure
that (a) you aren’t making a very positive impression, and that (b)
what you’re saying isn’t being listened to very closely.
fact, in one study, groups of volunteers were invited to attend a
series of lectures. While doing so, the first group was instructed to
keep legs and arms uncrossed – and to take a casual, relaxed sitting
position. Volunteers in the second group were asked to attend the same
lectures, but to keep their arms tightly folded across their chests.
The result showed the folded arms group learned and retained 38 percent
less than the uncrossed arms group.
neutralize this physically expressed resistance in a one-on-one
encounter, you could extend your hand for a handshake. You could offer
the person a cup of tea or coffee, or give them your business card,
brochure or product sample. (When I address large audiences, I often
ask questions that invite people to raise their hands or rise to their
feet.) It doesn’t matter which strategy you choose, just as long as
people are obliged to change their postures, to uncross their arms and
legs, in order to respond to you. Because body positions influence
attitude, the mere act of unwinding a resistant posture will begin to
subvert the resistance, itself.
To power up your thinking, talk with your hands – but watch what they
imaging has shown that a region called Broca’s area, which is important
for speech production, is active not only when we’re talking, but also
when we wave our hands. Since gesture is integrally linked to speech,
gesturing as you talk can actually power up your thinking. Whenever I
coach clients to incorporate gestures into their deliveries, I find
that their verbal content improves, their speech is less hesitant, and
their use of fillers (“ums” and “uhs”) decreases. Experiment with this
and you’ll find that the physical act of gesturing helps you form
clearer thoughts and speak in tighter sentences with more declarative
also to keep your movements relaxed and to use open arm gestures
showing the palms of your hands -- the ultimate “see, I have nothing to
hide” gesture. In addition, if you hold your arms between your waist
and shoulders, and gesture within that plane, most audiences will
perceive you as assured and credible.
you want to avoid (or at least minimize) are the nonverbal behaviors
that make you look unsure or incompetent. We all do it. When we’re
nervous or stressed, we tend to pacify ourselves with some form of
self-touching: We rub our foreheads, massage our temples, wring our
hands, touch our lips, play with our jewelry, twirl our hair, etc. --
and when we do these things, we immediately rob our statements of
credibility. If you catch yourself indulging in any pacifying behavior,
take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and steady yourself by placing your
feet firmly on the floor and your hands palm down in your lap or by
your side, or flat on the desk or conference table.
7) To communicate effectively, stop talking.
sends a message that you’re calm and confident. When you are giving a
presentation, don’t be concerned with filling every moment with words.
Every so often, try pausing. It might feel like you are waiting for an
eternity, but it won't seem long to your listeners. Try it. It’s
unexpected, it’s attention getting, it’s effective . . . very effective.
To raise your salary, lower your voice.
An acoustic scientist at UCLA
studied the characteristics of charismatic voices and found that
lower-pitched male CEOs made up to $187,000 a year more than
the workplace, the quality of your voice can be a deciding factor in
how you are perceived. Speakers with higher-pitched voices are judged
to be less empathic, less powerful and more nervous than speakers with
lower pitched voices. One easy technique
I learned from a speech therapist was to put your lips together and say
“Um hum, um hum, um hum.” Doing so relaxes your voice into its optimal
pitch. This is especially helpful before you get on an important phone
call – where the sound of your voice is so critical.
watch that your voice doesn’t rise at the ends of sentences, which
makes you sound as if you are asking a question or seeking approval.
Instead, when stating your opinion, use the authoritative arc, in which
your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and
drops back down at the end.
To power up your body language savvy, start with your feet.
most people think about improving their body language, they focus
primarily on facial expressions, posture, and hand gestures. Because
feet go “unrehearsed,” they often tell more than you realize.
example, if we were sitting and talking and your legs were stretched
forward with your feet pointing at me – or If the toe of the leg that
you crossed on top was pointing at me -- I’d be pretty sure that we
were relating well. But if you pulled your feet away in a tight ankle
lock or wrapped them around the legs of your chair, I’d suspect that
you were upset or uncomfortable.
do you know that you often bounce your feet when you’re happy or
excited? Bouncing or tapping feet are what professional poker players
refer to as “happy feet” -- a high-confidence tell
signaling that a player’s hand is strong. You may be sending the same
signal in a business negotiation when you feel you’re getting a good
deal. But if your bouncing feet suddenly go still, it could be a sign
that you’re unsure or waiting to see what will happen next – the
equivalent of holding your breath.
also fascinating to watch how people’s feet turn away from situations
they want to avoid, and point in the direction they’d prefer to be. So,
if you are speaking with a co-worker when you would rather be somewhere
else, your upper body may be angled toward him, but your feet will most
probably be turned toward the door.
also have a lot to say about your self-confidence. When you feel
insecure or anxious you may stand with your feet close together or with
your legs crossed -- or you might shift your weight from foot to foot.
But when you widen your stance, and evenly distribute your weight on
both feet, you look more “solid” and sure of yourself.
10. To keep your New Year’s resolutions, get a
at the National University of Singapore and the University of Chicago
found that participants who tightened their muscles – gripping their
hands, fingers, calves or biceps – were able to increase their
self-control. It was, however, also found that muscle tightening only
helped with willpower when the choices the participants faced aligned
with their stated goals. So make sure you know what you really want –
then get a grip to help achieve it!
About the Author
Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. is a keynote speaker,
presence coach and media expert on body language in the workplace.She’s
a leadership contributor for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language
of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.” You
can reach her by email: Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com,
phone: 510-526-1727, or through her website: www.CarolKinseyGoman.com.
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