Let's Talk Body Language
November 10, 2021
LaVerne H. Collins, PhD, NCC, LPC, LCMHC
Have you ever heard that it’s not what you say that counts, but how you say it?
Although the words we choose for conversations with peers and friends are important, the way we present ourselves during those discussions is crucial too.
Up to 93% of human communication is non-verbal, but many people don’t know how to use body language correctly.
Learning how to stand, where to hold your hands, and what to do during a conversation can have a serious impact on the way people respond to you.
It’s particularly important to get your body language right during the first few minutes of meeting someone, as that’s when people tend to make the biggest assumptions about each other.
So, how can you send the right message with body language? Try these techniques:
Learn your power poses. Power posing really does make a difference, even if it makes you feel a little silly at first.
● According to research, a couple of minutes of “power posing,” which means standing tall and holding your arms outwards towards the sky, or with your hands on your hips can increase your confidence.
● The next time you’re prepping for an important conversation, try taking a minute or two to explore your options with power poses. You can even watch videos on YouTube to help you.
● Combine your power pose with the right outfit, and you’ll get an even bigger dose of confidence, which will help you to sell just about anything, including yourself.
Maintain your energy. Energy is important when making the right impression with body language. If you’re slumped down, dragging your feet, or looking to the floor, then you’re not going to have much of an impact.
● On the other hand, if you imagine you’re about to go out and give an inspiring speech to a group of people, you can turn your energy up a notch.
● Try to dial up your energy and enthusiasm by around 20% or more in your next meeting. If you feel like you’re being over-the-top, ask a friend to interact with you and see what they think.
● The more energy you exude in a positive manner, the more you’ll attract those around you.
Smile! Positivity is key when it comes to mastering body language. Most of us don’t notice how often we have a sour expression on our face. However, grimacing and frowning significantly reduce your chances of connecting with someone else on an emotional level.
● Frowning also sends signals to your brain that you’re doing something difficult, which increases your stress levels and prompts even more nervousness and discomfort.
● When you smile, you push yourself to relax a little more, and you encourage the people you connect with to relax too.
Mirror others. Although you shouldn’t go into a conversation with a plan to copy everything that someone else does, mirroring can be a great technique for improving your chances of a good first impression.
● When someone nods or scratches their nose, doing the same (though not too frequently) can help you to develop a deeper sense of connection with that person. In many cases, this happens automatically.
● Try to be subtle when you’re mirroring someone else, as doing too much can look a bit off.
● If you’re not comfortable with replicating what someone else does all the time, fill in the gaps between mirroring moments with an open and easy posture. Have your arms by your sides, not crossed, and your palms open.
Talk with your hands. This tip relates to the tip above about bringing more energy into your conversations. Adding more hand motions to your words, and even using props to make your point, can instantly make you seem more interesting and animated.
● Professional and passionate people tend to talk more frequently with their hands, and this can make them more engaging.
● The right gestures add a lot to the words you say, but it’s important for them to feel natural and organic. If you’re not used to speaking with your hands, you might want to practice before you start using this tactic around others.
Remember, body language is an important part of getting your message across. Everything you do, from your smile to the amount of eye contact you use, will have an impact on the way others feel about you and what you have to say.
However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore the words that you’re using. Think carefully about your words and connect a well-thought-out message to effective body language to have a fantastic impact.