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The 17 Secrets to Improve Body Language

The 17 Secrets to Improve Body Language

Some of us do not naturally possess the personality or body language that is required for making a good impression on others. Body language is the first thing that people notice about you, so do yourself (and those around you) a favor and learn what your body says about you. This can help you in every aspect of your life—from friendships to important job interviews—so check out these tips.

1. Smile.

Most people do not realize that their “neutral” face is more of a scowl, which is an obvious turn-off. You do not need to be beaming from ear to ear 24/7; however, it is a good idea to remind yourself to turn up the corners of your mouth a bit.

You may also be interested in 11 Facts About Smiling.

2. Uncross your arms.

Having your arms crossed signals that you want to be left alone or that you are upset. Uncrossing your arms will signal to others (and yourself) that you are at ease in the situation. Even though I have known this trick for years, I still catch myself crossing my arms. It is natural habit, but necessary to break if you are trying to make a positive impression on those around you.

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3. Use proper eye contact.

Try to maintain a balance between staring into a person’s soul and appearing to not pay attention.

4. Sit or stand up straight.

Hunching over is another signal to others that you are protecting yourself. You may feel uncomfortable in the situation, but by using proper posture you will appear (and feel) more confident.

5. Relax your shoulders.

There is a balance with the shoulders: shoulders too high will make you appear nervous, but slumped shoulders give off a sad or self-conscious vibe. Try to work somewhere in the middle, your shoulders falling to a natural and comfortable height.

6. Straighten your entire spine—including your neck.

Even if your back is straight, you can blow others’ perception by craning your neck forward. Unless you are looking at someone who is shorter than you, your entire spine should be straight. Try to remind yourself to keep your “chin up” and your neck will straighten out in a positively confident manner.

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7. Claim your space.

Those with a small frame naturally take up less space and appear timid. A way to counter this is to imagine that you are claiming your space on the floor. Stand with feet apart; not together. Place one hand (or both) on the hip for visual trickery, making you appear to take up more space than you actually do. This will show others that although you are small, you are self-assured.

8. Mirror the person with whom you are speaking.

People like to see their body language mirrored since it makes them feel as though the other person can empathize or has similar ideas.

9. Do not stare at the floor.

Unless you are checking out the new carpeting or someone’s sparkly shoes, your eyes should be close to others’ eye level.

10. Slow down your speech.

I can attest to the fact that when I am nervous, I start talking like someone hit the fast forward button on my mouth. This is one way people can see right through to how nervous you really are.

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11. Take a deep breath.

This is one surefire way to calm your nerves and make your whole person more relaxed.

12. Do not touch your neck or face.

This is a signal to others that you are protecting yourself or are nervous.

13. Nod when someone is talking to you.

This is a positive form of body language that will let others know you are listening and engaged in the conversation. It can also give them a boost of confidence, and who doesn’t like to be around someone who makes us feel good?

14. Point your feet.

No, not like a ballerina. Point your feet in the direction of the person with whom you are speaking.

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15. Lower your voice.

Studies show that those with deeper voices are taken more seriously.

16. Steeple your hands. Or don’t.

This is something that I found to be somewhat controversial. The hand steeple is where you touch all of your fingers together to form a sort of “steeple.” This action is taught by some body language coaches in order to appear more confident or commanding, but others find this to be unnatural. What do you think? It should also be noted that you need to have proper posture when “steepling” so you do not look like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

17. Maintain proper distance.

This one is in the gray area as well, since some are more comfortable with close talkers, but the main point is to pay attention to those around you. Do they have to lean in to hear you? Move closer. Are people backing away from you? For heaven’s sake, do not keep moving closer as they inch away!

Body language is the biggest way that others perceive you. Overall, you should appear relaxed, confident and engaging in order to attract the positive attention you want. Try some of these out today!

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Amanda DeWitt

Writer. Photographer. Instagrammer. Future Educator.

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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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