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10 Body Language Tips to Increase Your Success

10 Body Language Tips to Increase Your Success

According to Peter Economy, research shows as much as 60 to 90 percent of how we communicate with others is nonverbal. Body language, therefore, is very important.

Our body language hugely affects the impression we make on others. Slouchy posture with your head hung down can make you appear lazy or timid. A weak handshake can make others think you lack confidence. Poor eye contact can make you seem uninterested in the conversation.

The way you communicate with others nonverbally can totally wreck or drastically improve your chances of success.

Here are 10 body tips to increase your success.

1. Master the perfect handshake

Create an excellent first impression by mastering the handshake. You want a perfect handshake: firm and confident, but not uncomfortably firm where you’re squeezing their fingers too hard. You also don’t want it limp like a dead fish. According to the American Management Association, handshake research by the Income Center for Trade Shows found that people are twice as likely to remember you if you shake hands. This article states that touching someone on the hand, arm, or shoulder for a very brief moment – just 1/40 of a second – creates a human bond.

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2. Make eye contact, nod occasionally, and lean in

It is important for others to know you are listening and you care about what they’re saying. Make eye contact when you meet them, and throughout your conversation. Just don’t stare. That can be viewed as aggressive. Leaning in shows your’re engaged in the conversation. Nodding your head lets the other person know you understand.

Avoid multitasking during a conversation. Checking your phone for text messages, looking around at other people, and looking at the clock can signal your disinterest in the conversation. Focus intently on the other person and what he or she is saying for the entire duration of the conversation.

3. Demonstrate proper posture

Don’t sit incredibly rigidly, but sit with proper posture. You’ll come across as more confident and competent. Plus, it’s better for your back and improves how you feel about yourself.

4. Smile slowly

Smile when the other person smiles. Don’t plaster a fake, constant smile on your face during the entire meeting, but smile and laugh genuinely. This will help keep a positive tone, shows you’re engaged in the conversation, and makes you seem more warm and friendly.

This article has tips from Leil Lowndes, author of the book How to Talk to Anyone, on great smiling techniques. “Don’t flash an immediate smile,” Lowndes recommends. Instead, pause, look at the person’s face, and then have a flooding smile, a “big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes.” Delaying your smile for a second, according to Lowndes, adds more depth and richness to how people perceive you.

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6. Position your feet appropriately

Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman has done extensive research on body language in the workplace. She advises people to watch the position of their feet when interacting with others. She is quoted here with excellent thoughts about starting and ending conversations:

“When you approach 2 people talking, you will be acknowledged in one of two ways. If the feet of your two colleagues stay in place and they twist only their upper torsos in your direction, they don’t really want you to join the conversation. But if their feet open to include you then you know that you are truly invited to participate.”

“Whenever you are speaking with a co-worker who seems to be paying attention, and whose upper body is angled toward you, but whose legs and feet have turned toward the door – realize that the conversation is over. Her feet are telling you she wants to leave. Foot positions are revealing even if someone’s legs are crossed.”

Be mindful of your stance during a conversation and also be aware of the position of the other person’s feet.

7. Display cultural sensitivity

Be aware of cultural practices of the person you are meeting. Body language customs that are normal, accepted, and welcoming in some areas of the world are considered very rude in other places.

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8. Uncross your arms and legs for better memory

Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman discusses interesting research by Allan and Barbara Pease: A group of people listening to a lecture with arms and legs uncrossed remembered 38% more information than a group in the same lecture who listened with arms and legs crossed. Make sure you sit with arms and legs unfolded to improve your retention. Also, if you are the speaker and your audience has arms and legs crossed, take a break or get them to move around.

9.  Cut out the fidgeting

When you wiggle, squirm, and fidget, the audience may think you’re anxious or lying, according to Business Insider.

10. Assume a power pose before important meetings

In Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk,Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, she teaches about fascinating experiments she conducted related to body language. The results were astonishing. She had people stand in “high-power” poses (standing with legs apart and arms streched wide open overhead, or sitting in a chair leaning back with feet propped up on a desk and hands behind head). Her research found that assuming one of these expansive poses for just two minutes increased people’s testosterone levels and decreased their cortisol (stress hormone) levels. This led to feeling more powerful and having more tolerance for risk.

She discusses how your body language can change you, and advises us:

Fake it until you become it.

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Take some time to watch her Ted Talk. It can literally change your life.

Do you have other helpful body language tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this interesting topic!

Featured photo credit: Handshake man – women/Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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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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