Body Language Matters!

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Do ever wonder why you don’t get the respect you deserve? Do others often ignore you? Your body language might be sending out the wrong signals.

To alter your body language, you must understand what you’re currently doing with your body. If possible, set up a video camera and record yourself interacting with others. What you see might shock you.

Politicians, CEO’ and celebrities can offer us excellent opportunities to observe and learn from their body language. These professions show us that a lot of information can be conveyed without even speaking.

Enhance your body language and your communication skills with these tips:

1. Don’t shrink your presence. Whether you’re sitting or standing, don’t be afraid to take up a little space. Spread your arms and legs slightly. Insecure people tend to do the opposite and attempt to appear small. Show that you’re confident enough to claim the space around you without apology.

2. Always sit and stand up straight. Your mom told you to stop slouching. She was right. Sit like a professional in an office setting. Be proper, but relaxed.

3. Establish good eye contact. This can be tricky. Too much eye contact can seem a little creepy. Too little comes off as submissive. Strive for 70-80% eye contact. When you look away from the other person’s eyes, avoid appearing distracted.

4. Mirror the other person. Within reason, mirror the other person’s stance and mannerisms. If you do it too precisely, they’ll think you’re crazy. Keep it mild, but adopt a similar style. Mirroring is a common Neuro-Linguistic Programming technique. You can find plenty of additional information online.

5. Keep your body open. Avoid crossing your arms and legs. Stay open to the other person. There’s no reason to protect yourself. Show that you’re relaxed. Turn and face people directly. When your feet and body are pointed in another direction, it shows disinterest and a desire to flee the scene.

6. Provide feedback while others are speaking. This means nod, say “mmhmmm”, or provide other feedback on occasion. It lets the other person know that you’re fully engaged and paying attention. Avoid overdoing it. Remember that you’re supposed to be listening.

7. Keep your hands away from your face. It’s distracting when someone touches their face during a conversation. Hands are dirty. Avoid putting them near your face.

8. Avoid fidgeting. When you fidget, you seem nervous and uncomfortable. Shaking your foot and tapping your fingers is also distracting to others. Have smooth, slow, infrequent movements. Try to mimic James Bond. He wouldn’t be squirming in his seat or picking at his face.

9. Avoid looking down. There’s nothing down there of interest. You look evasive and bashful when you lower your head. Keep your head high and others will give you more respect. You’ll feel better about yourself, too.

10. Maintain an appropriate distance. It’s odd when someone stands too close or too far away during a conversation. This is often a cultural issue, too. Find an appropriate distance for the situation. You can stand closer to some people than to others.

It’s not challenging to change your body language. However, it can take time for the changes to appear natural to others. Your body language is largely habitual. It won’t change by itself. Adopt a new technique each week and practice each day. In just a few weeks, you’ll notice that people are treating you differently.

Until your new mannerisms become a habit, you’ll have to be diligent in your intentions. Much of communication is non-verbal. Ensure that you’re communicating with maximum effect.

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