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Body language at work

Body language at work

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal a few secrets about body language and its application at work, the office and business meetings.

First a quick update:

Clash of the egos – Ryan Seacrest & Simon Cowell”
Read the full transcript of the interview I gave to Gil Kaufman from MTV news about the two confrontations and run-ins between Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell, live on Television, on American Idol last week, click here.

Now, let’s talk about body language and how to use it at work and in professional settings.

In my Success Newsletter: “Spotting a Liar”, I revealed that “55% of all of our communication of feelings and attitudes is done non-verbally (body language – facial expressions, etc.); 38% is the tonality of our voice and only 7% is the actual content – the words. Thus, our body language is the reliable source of what we really intend to say, and not our words. We can speak the words but actually intend a completely different meaning or simply be lying.”

Thus, regardless of the setting, we are always communicating and affecting & influencing what people think of us and to what extent they like or dislike us. What messages do you send out?

Here are some misconceptions about the non-verbal messages we send out:

1. People who look you in the eye are per­ceived as being dominant (no, it can be confidence, control, trustworthiness or anger)

2. Arrogant people don’t smile (no, the smile can be fake, forced or genuine)

3. Holding your head down and keeping your arms folded is a sign of submissiveness (no, it can be dejection, sadness, resistance or a sign of being emotionally shut down)

4. Fiddling, slouching and keeping one’s legs pressed tightly together shows insecurity (no, it can be boredom or nervousness)

5. Holding the arms, legs and face rigid are indications of being cold and quarrelsome (no, it can be listening, alertness, seriousness, stubbornness or preparedness for action.)

Dr. Robert Gifford is an environmental and social psychologist who spent time researching candidates during job interviews. He found that candidates increased their chances of being hired by smiling, ges­turing, sitting upright and talking freely.

Here are some pointers for the job interview

 Ensure that you do:

*Smile comfortably and warmly

*Focus your gaze on the in­terviewer’s eyes and forehead

*Show interest by leaning forward and listening intently

*Use small hand gestures

*Express honesty and openness by keeping your the palms open

*For the ladies – cross your legs at the ankles; for men – place both feet flat on the floor; Although this may sound sexist, it serves to still allow a woman to be feminine, lady-like and professional without pulling the attention to her gender and sex appeal.

Ensure you do not:

*Enter the room with a hunched back, your head down or droopy, down­cast eyes or emotion

*Use a flirtatious smile or expression

*Fidget, tap, fiddle, play with your hair or look down too much

*Cross your arms tightly

*Do not tug at clothing (indicates nervousness or lack of preparedness)

*For the ladies – do not expose a lot of leg – as this can draw the attention away from your talents and instead draw attention to your physical features; it can also send the message that you are selling your sexiness over your talent, skills and professional abilties.

The handshake is your first point of physical contact with a stranger. To express confidence, simply use a firm brief handshake with a simple up-and-down motion. If you have a problem remembering someone’s name, hold the handshake for just a moment longer as you repeat back the person’s name.

If you do the fish-handshake or limp-wrist it indicates you are insecure, afraid or shut down. If you use the two-hand arm shake, it indicates aggressiveness or an attempt to dominate. Do not shake hands with palm down, because that indicates dominance, control and aggression. Also, never wipe your hand on your clothing after you have shaken hands because that communicates that you find the person dirty.

Here is a powerful tip when in a meeting or an interview:

Occasionally, you will find the interviewer being distracted by a phone call, an incoming email or even looking out at something outside the window. When this happens, stop and wait; wait till he or she has finished the distraction. Do not keep talking because there is little chance that he or she has heard what you are saying; little chance that he or she is listening and; waiting and pausing are good ways to pull back the attention to you. They will stop and turn to you once they realize that you have stopped talking. Furthermore, if you talk while someone is being distracted it indicates that you are not in control, but rather that you are desperate or insecure. If they look away from you and out the window, then do the same thing and that will help alert them that you are confident, relaxed, in sync with the interviewer and not needlessly talking and yapping.

General pointers at work

Women generally gesture much more than men and studies reveal that leaders tend to move and gesture less often than the average person. Accordingly, use your hand gestures to emphasize a point.

Keep your hands by your side, except when gesturing. Placing hands deep in pockets indicates hiding and placing hands in front of your groin indicates insecurity or vulnerability.

Chewing on a pencil indicates nervousness or lack of self-discipline and self-control.

Folding your arms when someone is speaking indicates you are closed down or resistant; instead express receptivity and openness with arms at your side or resting comfortably in your lap.

When determining how much space to give the other person, allow about three feet. When you move closer than three feet, you are invading someone’s personal space and it can be viewed as an aggressive move – “getting in someone’s face” or overly flirtatious.

Men take up more space than women and men also tend to slouch.

Women can express relaxed confidence and control by not playing with jewelry and by maintaining eye-contact.

In a meeting setting, you can lead and hold attention by standing and walking around the room while speaking thus encouraging others to direct their eyes and attention on you. It also sends a subconscious message that you are the leader, in control and others need to follow you.

Beware of touching which can lead to claims of harassment. Studies reveal that in the business setting, men touch women far more than women touch men. Avoid back-slapping (aggressive and condescending) and patting on the back (patronizing.) When making a point or complimenting a person, you might consider a handshake or a gentle touch on the side of the upper arm of the other person.

Here are some tips on ways to exude and express confidence using body language:

*Stand proud and upright

*Lean back on your chair with hands cupped behind your head (indicates control, power and self-assuredness); do not engage this position in the early stages of a meeting with a superior because it will indicate lack of respect, arrogance and rebelliousness

*Keep your head up

*Place your chin forward

*When sitting, place your hands in a steeple position (fingers touching at the tips and hands form a triangle)

*When standing, place your hands by your side and keep gestures to a minimum

*Men – when standing, keep feet about shoulder-width apart

*Ladies – when standing, keep feet closer together

*In a group setting, speak slowly and deeply but project your voice

*Maintain continuous eye contact but still allowing for natural breaks of eye contact; if you are leading a meeting or presentation, maintain eye contact with each person that is speaking

*Express eagerness and enthusiasm by leaning forward, listening intently and nodding in agreement and; opening eyes wide (in a natural way)

If you would like to master the skill of leading, managing, understanding and motivating your team and other people, listen to my audio program which explains personalities in a work settings – Personality Test: Who are You – Talker, Doer, Thinker or Watcher.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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