5 BODY LANGUAGE TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Have you ever been drawn to someone as soon as they enter the room, but you have no idea why? There’s something about them — that “it” factor you can’t quite pinpoint.
Body language is a primary factor in making a strong first impression. The aim is to be perceived as relaxed, confident, and comfortable.
But what about after the initial meeting, on a daily basis?
Sometimes clients come to me for advice on how to be taken more seriously at work. They want to be noticed, heard, and respected. And rightfully so! While there are many key traits of successful people, one part of the equation that often gets overlooked is body language. There are ways to use it to set you up for ongoing success, especially in the workplace.
Here are five specific techniques you can implement, starting today, to take your professionalism to the next level.
1. Mind Your Vocal Tone. You’ve heard how dogs pick up on sounds that the human ear can’t hear. Well, it turns out we pick up on certain tones too, human to human. Researchers have known for a long time that when we speak, we put out low-frequency sounds we’re not consciously aware of. People who put out the right kind of sounds — below the range of conscious human hearing – become the leaders of most groups. The good news is that you can learn how to increase your production of these secret influencers. Simply put, lower, richer tones are more pleasing to us than higher ones. Want a quick fix? Take a deep breath before speaking so you nervously don’t let out anything too high-pitched. A thin, nasal voice is less appealing to us than a rich, resonant one.
2. Smile With Purpose. When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. Great, right? Perhaps. Smiling too frequently might give off the wrong impression. According to one study, very happy people are perceived as more naive than moderately happy individuals. So how does this translate? Smile with purpose. Leaders might want to dial down their display of happiness so they don’t seem exploitable or ineffective. Who knew a simple smile could mean so much?
3. Take On A Powerful Pose. Research by social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows that standing or sitting a certain way triggers immediate changes in your body chemistry. This not only makes you appear more confident, but it can also make you more or less successful with how you do your job and how others respond to you. “When our body language is confident and open,” Cuddy writes, “other people respond in kind, unconsciously reinforcing not only their perception of us but also our perception of ourselves.”When you need to feel more confident or dominant in a conversation, take on a power pose beforehand. These poses are expansive and open, like the “wonder woman” stance. Stand with your feet hip width distance apart, hands on hips, chin tilted slightly upwards, and feel the confidence wash over you. (Take a deeper dive on power poses with Amy’s Ted Talk.)
4. Make Eye Contact, But Not Too Much. There is such a thing as too much eye contact. You don’t want to be rude, but you also want to look like you care. So what’s the right balance? As a general rule, direct eye contact 30-60% of the time during a conversation should make for a comfortable, productive atmosphere — this keeps you from looking a little too Ted Bundy. Always make sure to use more eye contact when you are listening than when you are speaking.
5. Use Your Hands To Improve Speech. Brain imaging has shown that a region called Broca’s area, which is important for speech production, is active not only when we’re talking, but when we wave our hands. If you want to get your point across more effectively, try incorporating some hand gestures while you speak. Speech-associated gestures have been found to improve listener comprehension, suggesting that they are meaningful to listeners. Not only will talking with your hands help you remember more, it also keeps the listener engaged.
Now you can be the person with the “it” factor and garner more success in and out of the boardroom. Remember — it’s not always what you say verbally that activates your listeners.
It’s time you exude some confidence and command respect by letting your body do some of the talking.