It’s there with you every day anyway, and yet a rarely fully utilised tool. We ignore it, don’t notice it, dismiss it as ‘nonsense’. And yet……our brains make a snap judgement within seconds of meeting people to decide whether we are attracted to them, whether we trust them, whether they are competent – or all three! What am I talking about? Your body, and body language.
It can make or break a deal, a first date, a job interview. Help you out or hinder you in conflict situations. Be a beacon of how amazing you are, or a red flag that tells people everything they need to know….right before they walk away and never look back!
So, how do you go from whatever you’re doing now, to being the most compelling person in the room?
1.Stay open and high – as opposed to contracted and low. Shoulders rolled back to create height and allow extra air into your lungs. Chin up, sending a message to your sub-conscious that you’re feeling confident. Walk with intention, strut if you have to, just don’t mooch. Keep your hands if used at waist height or slightly above. This is the line where assertive, self-assured people live – not down low, contracted in and hunched up like more passive people.
Be careful with the power posing. It’s not pretty or clever. Power posing for men looks like hands behind head, leaning back in the chair, legs open. Power posing for women looks like Wonder Woman – hands on hips, legs wider apart than usual, feet flat on the floor.
2. Keep your hands in inclusion and inquiring mode. This means they will look pliable and have the palm up at a slight angle. The minute your hands go stiff and choppy you are sending out loud and demanding vibes. Add open fingers to that and you just signaled frustration/you’re an idiot messaging. Jab a stiff and choppy hand out to someone and it will feel like a personal attack.
3. Keep both feet firmly on the floor to make a more compelling impression, legs slighter wider apart than you might usually do. No jiggling feet, it sends a distracted or nervous vibe out. If you want to show attraction, form your feet in a slight outward V, this sends a signal that you are leaving space to welcome someone in.
4. Watch the self hugs or self-soothes – they send a signal that you are out of your comfort zone and trying to give yourself a pat to feel better. People will sub-consciously pat or rub their hands, thighs or knees. If you catch yourself doing it, put yourself in a more neutral position.
5. People are prone to stroke their neck or support their neck when they feel they’ve been ‘hijacked’, threatened, or confused. It also sends your head and shoulders down too and the subtle nuances of that appearance are very hard for people to read. Depending on the angle and inward or outward jut of your chin people may make massive assumptions about you that aren’t true. From bored, despondent, in deep trauma, distress, or protecting yourself.
6. A head tilt shows interest, as does mirroring what others are doing. It creates space to listen. Be aware though that nodding of the head in a yes movement for a man normally means it’s a done deal or agreed on. For a woman it means encouragement. If you’re not sure clarify using words.
7. Your body will always move to where it wants to be depending on what your emotions are and what you are feeling (and so will other people’s). So the nearer in to you and towards you someone is, is a good sign. Their lead extremities – arms and legs will usually be crossed towards you not away from you too. If they are leaning away and back it’s not a good sign. If one shoulder starts to creep away, even if it appears they are facing you, they have lost interest, and if one foot goes towards the door that is exactly what it looks like – escape.
8. Watch out for the proxemics (the space zone and use of space in body language). Public space is 3-6 metres. Social space is 1.5-3 metres. Personal space is 60 cm to 1.5 metres. Intimate space is direct contact to 60 cm. You’ll know if you’ve stuffed up and mis-read the situation because people will lean back, take a step back, put their hands up in front of them or turn their body away from you.
9. The most compelling body language you could ever use? A genuine smile. A genuine smile shows teeth. If you are showing your teeth, the smile normally moves your cheeks up and the smile goes all the way to your eyes. If you do a tight lipped smile it can come across as superficial or contrived.
10.The easiest way to make this easy is to watch your own moves first. Notice what happens when you are in certain environments or with certain people and then make a conscious effort to alter that next time you are in that situation…..if you want to. Remember your body language comes directly from your emotions, so whatever you feel you will show in one way or another in your body language and that’s not always a bad thing. People will know how you really feel.
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