10 Simple and Powerful Body Language Tips for 2013
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Kinsey Goman, author of “The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body
Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead,” offers ten simple,
powerful (and sometimes surprising) tips guaranteed to give you a
1) To boost your
confidence before an important meeting, replace your smart phone with a
business professionals I coach understand the importance of projecting
confident body language during an important meeting, a job interview,
say, or a key sales pitch, but few realize that how they sit while
waiting in the reception area has everything to do with their initial
from Harvard and Columbia Business Schools shows that holding your body
in expansive “high power” poses (standing tall with shoulders pulled
back, widening your stance, spreading your arms to expand into space)
raises testosterone (the hormone linked to power and self-confidence)
and lowers the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormonal
effect is actually reversed, the researchers discovered, when you
contract yourself physically, (hunch your shoulders, tuck your chin
down, etc.) assuming postures that make you look defensive and lacking
picture yourself in the reception area where you are waiting for that
important meeting. Are you bent over your smart phone, with your elbows
pulled into your waist and your shoulders hunched? Or are you sitting
up straight, feet firmly on the floor, arms spread wide holding an open
newspaper? And, when you are called into the meeting, which of those
two hormones is dominating your body chemistry?
To reach an agreement, send early engagement signals.
the years, I’ve noticed that parties are more likely to reach an
agreement if they begin a negotiation by displaying engaged body
language (smiling, nodding, mirroring, open gestures, etc.).
Interestingly, that positive result is the same whether the display was
the product of an unconscious reaction or a strategic decision.
3) To spot a liar, look
out for theses four “the tell-tale” signals.
cues to all kinds of unconscious giveaways tend to occur in clusters –
a group of movements, postures and actions that collectively point to a
particular state of mind. This is crucially true of dishonesty, where
one specific cluster of nonverbal signals has been proven statistically
to be a highly accurate indicator of deception. These are: hand
touching, face touching, crossed arms, and leaning away. According to
research conducted at Northeastern University, if you see these
“Telltale Four” being displayed together, watch out!
To make a difficult task seem easier, smile.
Garfield, the author of Peak Performance, once
coached the Russian
Olympic weight-lifting team. Garfield noticed that when team members
lifted to exhaustion, they would invariably grimace at the painful
effort. In an experiment, he encouraged the athletes to smile when they
got to that point of exhaustion. This seemingly minor difference
enabled them to add 2-3 more reps to their performance.
matter the task, when you grimace or frown while doing it, you are
sending your brain the message, “This is really difficult. I should
stop.” The brain then responds by sending
stress chemicals into your bloodstream. And this creates a vicious
circle: the more stressed you are, the more difficult the task becomes.
when you smile, your brain gets the message, “It’s not so bad. I can do
To encourage collaboration, rearrange your office.
Projecting power, authority, and
status may be a key part of your nonverbal strategy to impress
potential clients, customers, and investors – and if it is, then
arranging your office space as a visual symbol of your and your
company’s brand can be a crucial part of that strategy.
it comes to building collaboration within your staff, however, status
and authority cues can send conflicting, distinctly unwanted messages.
If creating a collaborative culture is essential to meeting your
business objectives, then you might want to rearrange your office to
reflect this. For example, seating people directly across from your
desk (especially if their chair is smaller and lower than yours) places
them in a competitive (and disadvantageous) position. Instead, try
putting the visitor’s chair at the side of your desk, or creating a
conversation area (chairs of equal size set around a small table or at
right angles to each other) to encourage a feeling of informality,
equality, and partnership.
6) To reduce resistance,
hand out your business card.
who are defensive, guarded or resistant may protectively fold their
arms across their chests. And when you see that gesture coupled with
crossed legs, 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.
neutralize this kind of resistance in a one-on-one encounter, you could
offer the individual a cup of coffee or tea. You could hand out your
business card, brochure, or product sample. With a large audience you
could ask questions that invite people to raise their hands (“How many
of you have had previous training in nonverbal communication
techniques?” “How many of you have never thought of body language as a
leadership tool?” 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.
7) To maximize your
authority, curb your enthusiasm.
you are an extrovert, you most likely make a favorable first impression
-- because we are drawn to passionate people whose emotions are easily
read. But when your communication style lacks of nuance and subtlety,
your over-exuberance can overwhelm (or exhaust) an audience. So in
situations where you want to maximize your authority -- minimize your
movements. Take a deep breath, bring your gestures down to waist level,
and pause before making a key point. When you appear calm and
contained, you look more powerful.
8) To defuse a tense
situation, realign your body more congenially.
strong verbal argument comes from a person’s need to be heard and
acknowledged. If you physically align yourself with that person
(sitting or standing shoulder to shoulder facing the same direction),
you will defuse the situation. And, by the way, a move that will
escalate the argument is to square your body to the other person or to
move in closer. This is especially true when dealing with men. Two men
speaking will angle their bodies slightly, while two women will stand
in a more “squared up” position – a stance that most men perceive as
To “seal the deal,” make a positive last impression.
you've settled on a price, signed the contract, or accepted the job
offer, remember to make a winning exit: Stand tall, shake hands warmly,
make eye contact, smile, say “thank you,” and leave your counterpart
with the impression that you are someone he or she should look forward
to dealing with in the future.
10) If you feel the need
to improve your own body language, let your team know you’re doing it.
often coach leaders on using more inclusive body language to help
create a collaborative work environment. If this is one of your New
Year’s resolutions, be upfront with your staff by saying, “I’m going
through some training and I want to make positive changes in how I
connect with others.” That way your team will be looking for changes
and will most likely understand (and support) what you are trying to
you follow these ten simple and powerful body language tips, you’ll
increase your nonverbal impact in 2013.
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-01-11 09:21:24 in Personal Articles