10 Simple and Powerful Body Language Tips for 2012
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The effective use of body
language plays a key role in effective leadership communication.
Here are ten tips I’ve learned during the past two decades of coaching
leaders and their teams around the world:
To boost your confidence, assume a power pose
at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools shows that simply holding your
body in expansive, "high-power" poses (leaning back with hands behind
the head and feet up on a desk, or standing with legs and arms
stretched wide open) for as little as two minutes stimulates higher
levels of testosterone -- the hormone linked to power and dominance --
and lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
this when you’re feeling tentative but want to appear confident. In
addition to causing hormonal shifts in both males and females, these
poses lead to increased feelings of power and a higher tolerance for
risk. The study also found that people are more often influenced by how
they feel about you than by what you're saying.
2) To increase participation, look like you’re
you want people to speak up, don’t multi-task while they do. Avoid the
temptation to check your text messages, check your watch, or check out
how the other participants are reacting. Instead, focus on those who
are speaking by turning your head and torso to face them directly and
by making eye contact. Leaning forward, nodding and tilting your head
are other nonverbal way to show you’re engaged and paying attention.
It’s important to hear people. It’s just as important to make sure they
know you are listening.
3) To encourage
collaboration, remove barriers
Physical obstructions are
especially detrimental to collaborative efforts. Take away anything
that blocks your view or forms a barrier between you and the rest of
the team. Even at a coffee break, be aware that you may create a
barrier by holding your cup and saucer in a way that seems deliberately
to block your body or distance you from others. A senior executive told
me he could evaluate his team’s comfort by how high they held their
coffee cups. It was his observation that the more insecure individuals
felt, the higher they held their coffee. People with their hands held
at waist level were more comfortable than those with hands chest high.
4) To connect
instantly with someone, shake hands
Touch is the most primitive and
powerful nonverbal cue. Touching someone on the arm, hand, or shoulder
for as little as 1/40 of a second creates a human bond. 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 friendly.
5) To stimulate good
A genuine smile not only stimulates
your own sense of well-being, it also tells those around you that you
are approachable, cooperative, and trustworthy. A genuine smile comes
on slowly, crinkles the eyes, lights up the face, and fades away
slowly. Most importantly, smiling directly influences how other people
respond to you. When you smile at someone, they almost always smile in
return. And, because facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings,
the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state
in a positive way.
6) To show agreement, mirror expressions and
When clients or business colleagues
unconsciously imitate your body language, it’s their way of nonverbally
saying that they like or agree with you. When you mirror other people
with intent, it can be an important part
of building rapport and nurturing feelings of mutuality. Mirroring
starts by observing a person’s facial and body gestures and then subtly
letting your body take on similar expressions and postures. Doing so
will make the other person feel understood and accepted.
7) To improve
your speech, use your hands
Brain 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 when we wave our hands.
Since gesture is integrally linked to speech, gesturing as we talk can
actually power up our thinking.
Whenever I encourage executives to
incorporate gestures into their deliveries, I consistently find that
their verbal content improves. 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 language.
8) To learn the
truth, watch people’s feet
people try to control their body language, they focus primarily on
facial expressions, body postures and hand/arm gestures. And since the
legs and feet are left unrehearsed, they are also where the truth can
most often be found. Under stress, people will often
display nervousness and anxiety through increased foot movements. Feet
will fidget, shuffle and wind around each other or around the
furniture. Feet will stretch and curl to relieve tension, or even kick
out in a miniaturized attempt to run away. Studies show that observers
greater success judging a person’s real emotional state when they can
see the entire body. You may not know it, but instinctively you’ve been
reacting to foot gestures all your life.
9) To sound
authoritative, keep your voice down
Before a speech or important
telephone call, allow your voice to relax into its optimal pitch (a
technique I learned from a speech therapist) by keeping your lips
together and making the sounds “um hum, um hum, um hum.” And if you are
a female, watch that your voice doesn’t rise at the ends of sentences
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.
10) To improve
your memory, uncross your arms and legs
Body language researchers, Allan
and Barbara Pease, report a fascinating finding from one of their
studies: When a group of volunteers attended a lecture and sat with
unfolded arms and legs, they remembered 38 percent more than a group
that attended the same lecture and sat with folded arms and legs. To
improve your retention, uncross your arms and legs. And if you see your
audience exhibiting defensive body language, change tactics, take a
break, or get them to move -- and don’t try to persuade them until
their bodies open up.
If you follow
these ten simple and powerful body language tips, I guarantee you’ll
increase your nonverbal impact.
Happy New Year!
About the Author
Carol Kinsey Goman,
Ph.D. is an executive coach, change-management consultant, and
international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association
events. She’s a panelist for The Washington Post’s “On Leadership”
column, a blogger on Forbes.com, a columnist for “the Market” magazine,
and the author of “THE
SILENT LANGUAGE OF LEADERS: How Body Language Can help – or Hurt – How
contact Carol about speaking or coaching, call 510-526-172 or email
To more information or to view videos, visit Carol’s website: http://www.SilentLanguageOfLeaders.com.
can also follow Carol on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CGoman,
or “Like” her Facebook Fan
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-01-09 10:58:57 in Personal Articles