1- Use your space! – Your body language shows how comfortable you are in your own skin and in your situation. When you stand and sit tall, and expand your arms or legs outward or upward (crossing your legs with ankle over thigh like the number 4 or stretching an arm out over a chair to your left or right or crowned up over your head) it shows that you are not afraid to maximize your presence and interact with the space and those around you. When people are not comfortable they implode. They minimize the space they use by slouching, and sinking into themselves. They sit or stand demurely, closing their bodies off from others by clasping their hands, rounding their shoulders, keeping arms and legs close to take up less space. So open up and use your space to show you are confident and comfortable or to at least give the impression that you are!
2- Stop touching that! – Any kind of self touch can be seen as a soothing pacifier. When you hold your arms, rub your hands together, rub your palms on your thighs, grab the back of your neck, touch your nose, or preen and fidget, you are telling the world you need reassurance. It’s basically the adult version of sucking your thumb. George Washington is reported to have said “Thy shall not touch thyself in public”! So avoid self-touch when ever possible.
3-Give them your full body attention! -When you want to build rapport and trust, let them know you care by making sure your toes, belly button and eyes are lined up and pointing in their direction. By aligning these three things in the direction of another person you are making it clear that your sole focus is on them and the conversation, and that they have your full undivided attention. The greatest gift you can give someone is your full attention. The flip side of this is to watch if others are lining up these three things to you. If their toes, belly button or eyes are pointing or darting elsewhere you know they either want out of the conversation, are distracted by something or someone else, or they’re just not that into you.
4- Hold your ground – in an argument or negotiation keep your body language open and non-confrontational. No hands on hips the way your mother used to yell at you, and no pointing. Use your space and own it (mentioned in #1). Do not lean backward – lean in or upright. Keep your head up straight, not tilted to the left or right – this will literally show you’ve “got your head on straight” in other words you’re confident, prepared and strong. Maintain eye contact after you state your case or ask a question, until the other person responds- no matter how long it takes.
5- Smile You’re Superman (or Superwoman) -Need to feel instantly energized, ready to take on the world or get in a happier mood? Amy Cuddy’s now famous study shows that in just two minutes the Superman Pose (hands on hips, chin up, tall posture) can increase your testosterone (confidence hormone) and decrease your cortisol levels (stress hormone in just two minutes). Other studies show the physical act of using your facial muscles to smile can flip the switch in your brain to change your mood and attitude, and increase your sense of well being in just seconds.
Why is Body Language so powerful?
Body Language is powerful because it speaks to others before you ever say a word. It can reveal your true emotions, feelings and intentions unconsciously to others. It can open up the world to you or close you off from it. It can welcome others or repel them.
The way you hold and position your body can energize you and make you feel powerful, or minimize your presence and make you virtually disappear. When you know what to look for in others it can help you gain insight into what they might be thinking and feeling, their intentions, and if they are friend or foe, lying or truthful. It can help you to ask better questions.
To be a great communicator, networker, salesperson, mediator, facilitator, or rapport builder you must be aware of your body language signals and the signals of those around you.