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.
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.
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.
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.
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