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8 Ways To Make What You Say At Work More Persuasive

8 Ways To Make What You Say At Work More Persuasive

If you care at all about your job, you have big plans and ideas for your company that you want others to hear and take seriously. While many times you may be rebuffed by higher-ups who make whatever decision they want regardless of other suggestions, you never know when an idea you have could catch your boss’ eye and put you on his radar for a future promotion. When these ideas strike you, it’s important that you present yourself well in order to be as persuasive as possible when you finally get a chance to break into the big time.

1. Be curious

Before even making a pitch, you want your employer to see that you’re not just looking out for yourself; you have the company’s interests in minds. Put in extra hours, go the extra mile on projects, and ask questions about goings-on in the industry. Showing you have a genuine interest in the industry is the best way to get your foot in your boss’ door. On the other hand, nothing will sour your boss to your idea than showing you are only out for a promotion, and have nothing more than a passing interest in the company as a whole.

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2. Listen effectively

Of course, since you’ll be asking a lot of questions, make sure you listen to the answer. Again, asking questions superficially just to make yourself look inquisitive will get you nowhere. You have to genuinely want to know the answers to the questions your asking, and also show that you’re able to take this information and act upon it. Regurgitating information only gets you so far; taking in information and integrating it with your ideas will take you much further.

3. Be honest

You’ll be much more persuasive if you’re always honest with others. Remember: your reputation is at stake when you go out on a limb to make a project pitch. Stretching the truth even a little bit can not only crush your hopes of a promotion, but may even cause you to lose your job. On the other hand, if you have a proven track record of honesty, your boss will probably at least hear your idea before he decides whether or not to run with it. Make sure you’re completely transparent about your ideas and motivation before moving forward with your pitch.

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4. Be confident

Being confident is definitely tough, especially when taking a risk and trying to impress your employer. However, being confident shows others that you are knowledgeable and care deeply about the subject at hand. Be prepared with answers to potential questions in order to show you’ve covered all the bases and thought of possible contingencies. This will also alleviate your boss’ concerns, and make him more willing to take a chance on your idea.

5. Speak confidently

Not only do you have to be confident, you have to show confidence. Public speaking is a pain but the truth, even if you have some Earth-shatteringly awesome ideas, no one will listen to you if you’re afraid to get up and scream them to the world. Waffling while on the “big stage” transmits the idea that you’re not entirely sure of your idea, and are taking a stab in the dark. Be confident, and speak confidently, and people will listen to you.

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6. Tell an anecdote

Your ideas need to be actionable. You can’t just come into a meeting with an idea you think would work just because, well, you think it’d work. You have to back it up with stories of past experiences in which your idea would have helped in some way. Think about past customer interactions, or past troubles the business has had, and work with them. “I noticed that, in the past 6 months, our customers have been replying negatively to x, y, and z. My idea to alleviate this situation is a, b, c.” This statement clearly states the problem you wish to attack, why you want to attack it, and how you plan on doing so.

7. Address concerns

We mentioned before that you should prepare answers to potential questions your audience may have. This is incredibly important in order to maintain your sense of confidence. However, if you don’t have an answer to a question being asked, that’s okay too. Just be prepared to turn the question around to the floor, and solicit advice from other members of the audience. Remember, being a good listener is just as important as having all the answers.

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8. Find a common ground

Make sure your audience knows you’re all in the same boat, and you all want the same thing: For your company to succeed. Even though you might have to step on other people’s toes (for example, if someone’s idea hasn’t worked out as planned), don’t dismiss their ideas entirely. Instead, use their ideas as a springboard, and tweak them to be more successful. By making sure everyone is on the same page as you forge forward, you ensure that everyone’s in your corner, and your ideas can gain some traction.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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