You’ve worked hard to get that important interview or new client meeting. You’ve honed your slide presentation to be pitch perfect, and your resume is a work of art. At critical moments like this, don’t let sloppy body language place an invisible, unspoken barrier between you and success.
“Your gestures, voice tone, rate, and volume can all have a profound effect on the success of your negotiations, job interviews, and sales meetings,” says Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, author of The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help. You only have seven seconds to make a first impression and establish credibility, trust, power, status, warmth, and empathy.
Learn to send honest signals with these 10 simple reminders:
Not only do we need to Lean In, we also need to lean forward. Leaning towards your conversation partner signals commitment in the conversation and shows you’re engaged and paying attention.
Crossing arms is a defensive approach across many contexts and cultures. With arms crossed, you look defensive and closed, or worse yet, that you're ignoring what your conversation partner is saying. Keep your arms open so that you seem to be fully involved. Data shows that you retain 38% less information when your legs and arms are crossed. Open up your arms, and your mind!
Your mom was right: pointing can be rude. Take a cue from politicians and soften your gestures with a full hand point or chop unless you are actively trying to convey aggression.
A purely social smile is just the mouth, but a genuine smile uses the eyes. There is nothing more powerfully addictive than a genuine smile. It can melt hearts and soothe nerves.
Making good eye contact can build trust and show that you are engaged and interested. Choose to use Skype or a video chat rather than email when you anticipate tensions may be high, and you will boost your chances of positive communication. Studies say that people are less hostile and negative when they look into your eyes. So, use those baby blues to disarm your opponents.
Notice when some famous people are being interviewed, they don't fidget or distract with too many gestures? The focus stays on them. Let your hands rest naturally at your sides or on your lap, depending on whether you are sitting or standing. Avoid doing things like cracking your knuckles. Rubbing hands can also be an indicator that you think you have closed the deal.
Especially for females, bring your voice down to an optimal range. Do this by saying, “um hum, um hum, um hum” before a big talk to bring voice down to optimal range. And speak more slowly. Whatever you do, avoid the 'valley girl' speak that makes anything you say sounds like a tentative question.
Powerful people with high status aren't afraid to take up space in a room. Research shows that if you do a 'high power pose' -- think Wonder Woman -- and hold it for two minutes, your testosterone level raises and cortosol level lowers. You feel more confident and perform better. Try it!
Did you know if you reach out and touch someone, they are more likely to say yes and comply with your request? Touching on the arm creates a human bond within milliseconds, as long as it is done in combination with other honest communication.
"Feet hold secrets", says Goman, "because they are the least rehearsed." Did you know that feet point to a person they prefer? Feet positioned close together can be seen as a timid stance, while wide apart feet display confidence. Use this tip to read someone else's body language or stay in control of your own.
Whether you are aware of your body language or not, you are sending powerful signals to the receiver. By using smart body language, you are more likely to reinforce your goals rather than distract from your message. In fact, with the rise of technology, nonverbal communication is becoming even more important due to visual technology revolution. Take center stage by boosting your body language IQ.
Cover image is Public Domain