5 Body Language Tips for Increasing Your Curb Appeal
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A long time before your performance proves them
right or wrong, people will have made an emotional decision about
whether to follow you, trust you, or even listen to you. They’ll do
that by evaluating your curb appeal.
In The Political Brain, Drew Weston talks about
curb appeal as one of the main determinants of electoral success.
According to Weston: “Curb appeal is the feeling voters get when they
‘drive by’ a candidate a few times on television and form an emotional
impression.” For years now, I’ve noted that people judge business
leaders in much the same way.
So a question I frequently ask my clients is:
What’s your personal curb appeal? How do team members, customers and
colleagues feel about you when they “drive by” your office a few times,
observe you in the corporate hallways, or attend meetings you lead?
Research shows that curb appeal can be assessed
quickly and that many times these instant assessments are startlingly
accurate. In one study, subjects watched a 30-second clip of college
teachers at the beginning of a term and rated them on characteristics
such as accepting, active, competent, and confident. Based on this
small sampling of behaviors, raters were able to accurately predict how
students would evaluate those same teachers at the end of the course.
Research also shows that these assessments are
primarily a nonverbal process. When the audio portion of the video
clips was turned off, so that subjects had to rely solely on body
language cues, the accuracy of their predictions remained just as high.
From a nonverbal perspective, effective leaders
send two sets of signals. Both are very important, but they are each
more important under certain circumstances.
One set of signals conveys status, authority,
and power. Authority signals are especially useful if you are
presenting your ideas to senior executives, addressing a large
audience, or giving an interview to the news media. In these
circumstances, you want to project competence and confidence.
The other set of nonverbal signals conveys
empathy, likeability, friendliness, and inclusiveness. When you are
trying to get people to express their opinions or when you are leading
a collaborative team, these are the more congruent signals.
Depending on the qualities you want to project
in a certain situation, here are 5 body language tips to enhance your
personal curb appeal:
1. To show authority, stand.
Because status and authority are nonverbally communicated through
height and space, the taller you appear and the more room you take up,
the more you look like you are in command. When others are seated, you
will gain authority if you stand when you speak. (Because they are
shorter, this is especially valid for women.) And if you occupy space
by moving around, you will further emphasize your authority.
2. To set a collaborative tone, start
by taking off your jacket. A savvy executive I know begins
every staff meeting by taking off his jacket. He chooses a chair at the
center of the conference table (and not at the head). Those behaviors
alone would send a message of informality, but it’s the rest of his
body language that drive the point home. Whenever anyone in the meeting
speaks, the manager leans forward with an expression of interest on his
face, nods approvingly, and gives the speaker full eye contact. With
this array of nonverbal signals, he symbolically sets the stage for
exactly what he wants the meeting to be – a “rank free” exchange of
ideas and questions.
3. To build rapport, “do lunch.”
When you share a meal with someone, your consumption of glucose level
rises, enhancing complex brain activities and regulating prejudice and
aggressive behaviors. In addition, when individuals dine together they
enact the same movements. This unconscious mimicking can induce
positive feelings towards both the other party and the matter under
4. To look approachable, uncross your
arms. Don’t tell me, I already know: You are more comfortable
with your arms crossed, it’s the way you habitually stand, it even
helps you focus your thoughts. All that may be true, but with nonverbal
communication, it’s not how the sender feels that matters most; it is
how the observer perceives how the sender feels. And, although there
are cultural differences to take into account, crossing arms is almost
always perceived as a closed sign of resistance. (And, by the way,
since the human brain pays more attention to negative messages than it
does to positive ones, what people unconsciously look for and react to
the most, are signs that you are in a bad mood or are not to be
5. To signal that you are trustworthy,
flash a genuine smile. Humans produce about 50 distinct types
of smiles but there's one distinction that really matters: is the smile
real or fake? Genuine enjoyment smiles light up the entire face and
create crows-feet at the corner of the eyes. When trustworthiness and
cooperation is really important, we are remarkably good at
automatically detecting leaders with real smiles -- and extending our
trust to them.
Try these five simple and powerful strategies
for improving your curb appeal and watch your leadership effectiveness
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 2013-03-18 09:57:46 in Personal Articles