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8 Business Body Language Tricks That Help Advance Your Career

8 Business Body Language Tricks That Help Advance Your Career

Have you considered how your posture, facial expressions, and other physical movements can impact on your career? If not, it may be time to take a closer look at what your body language says about you as a professional.

Body language plays a crucial role in an individual’s success, regardless of his or her industry or position. Although their implementation and effects often seem subtle, positioning and movements work together to communicate specific attributes about a person. Thanks to the effective (or not so effective) use of body language, an unqualified professional can rise through the ranks, while the best minds in their fields may languish in middle management.

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Fortunately, anyone can learn how to leverage body language to their advantage, achieving better rapport and reputation among their colleagues.

Career-Boosting Qualities Communicated by Body Language

When it comes to influence in business, many factors contribute to how others perceive you. Choice of words, speaking volume and tone, and style of dress and grooming all offer cues (whether accurate or not) to others regarding your capabilities.

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However, one of the most important factors in shaping the perceptions of others is body language. By using movements, positioning, and facial expressions, you can project positive qualities such as:

  • Confidence. Business leaders throughout history have been known to project confidence, or a sense of being secure with their abilities or accomplishments. Therefore, if you wish to advance, employ body language to communicate confidence – even when you may not feel it.
  • Assertiveness. Managing high-level duties and personnel requires the ability to advance your own will – or the will of the company – in spite of resistance. Physically positioning yourself as someone not easily swayed by others shows the ability to influence and lead others.
  • Interest. Potential employers, colleagues, partners, and clients want to work with people who find the topics they discuss compelling. Showing an active interest in a conversation, lecture, or presentation indicates that you as a professional will use the same level of engagement in a future business relationship.
  • Openness to collaboration. Although assertiveness is key in leaders, so is the ability to cooperate with others to achieve common goals. Being able to identify and incorporate ideas from one or more outside parties helps you benefit from the diverse expertise of multiple sources, ultimately strengthening your strategies.
  • Intelligence. Succeeding in any industry requires a wide variety of knowledge, from education to life and professional experiences. Body language methods that communicate alertness and comprehension indicate a high I.Q. and show others you are mentally “cut out” for greater responsibility.
  • Empathy. Not only is I.Q. important to business intelligence; so is the E.Q., or emotional intelligence quotient. Professionals who decipher and respond to the emotional needs of themselves, customers, and colleagues stand the best chance of advancing in their fields.

By using body language techniques to communicate one or more of these qualities, you can raise yourself in the esteem of influential parties without speaking a word. As a result, you gain favor with the very professionals in the position to help advance your career.

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The 8 Most Effective Business Body Language Tricks

  1. Maintain eye contact and active listening techniques. Everyone wants to feel interesting and important, and engaging in active listening shows other individuals you see them in such a way. By keeping consistent eye contact with others when they speak, nodding occasionally, and using other indicators of rapt attention, you as a professional show respect for colleagues.
  1. Keep palms facing down. Those around you may not recognize this subtle move, but it will help shape their opinions of you all the same. When individuals place both of their hands palms down on tables, podiums, or counters while speaking with others, it projects a sense of authority and leadership.
  1. Act in synchrony. Imitating, or “mirroring,” the body language of others shows you align with them philosophically as well. Watch how others position themselves – whether sitting, standing, or walking, and mimic the way they cross their legs, lean forward or backward, gesticulate, or present facial expressions (smiles, frowns, etc.). The goal is not to “ape” the other individual, but to communicate a sense of cooperation.
  1. Strike a wide stance. While speaking to – or in front of – others, if you adopt a wide stance, it expands your diaphragm and projects your speaking voice more effectively. You also appear more impressive and influential, making you a business force to be reckoned with.
  1. Keep body language open and remove possible barriers. People take emotional cues from their conversation partners. Therefore, if you slouch, cross your arms, or otherwise appear “closed off” to others, audiences respond in kind. Keep body language relaxed and arms at your sides to show you’re open to those with whom you interact. In addition, avoid holding large items or allowing structures such as tables to separate you from one another.
  1. Smile sincerely. A convincing smile begins slowly and spreads throughout the rest of the face, especially the eyes. When approaching an individual of consequence, imagine greeting an old friend, and a genuine smile will emerge. These expressions communicate a sense of warmth and welcome, which encourages others to open up.
  1. Minimize movements. Standing woodenly in networking and business situations won’t do. However, squirming, scratching, wiggling, twitching, or fidgeting projects an appearance of nervousness or impatience. Gesticulating wildly while conversing also distracts from important points. The best policy is to incorporate natural, subtly controlled movements to enhance your points and mirror the body language of others.
  1. Develop a strong handshake. The tactile sensation of a handshake has made it the prevalent physical greeting in many cultures. However, perfecting this seemingly simple act takes some work. Avoid extremes in handshakes, whether overly limp or excessively firm. Instead, aim for a brief, natural-feeling grasp to communicate trust and respect.

Although implementing some of these techniques may feel more natural than others, practicing them at each business or social function helps you develop body language habits that will benefit you throughout your career. A promotion or raise may not happen immediately, but over time, strong body language greatly contributes to the success and scope of your professional life.

What body language techniques do you use to establish authority among your peers?

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Featured photo credit: LinkedIn via m.c.lnkd.licdn.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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