We now that body language is as important as speaking and certainly by getting our body language to mirror our verbal cues to help us communicate better, but there are other reasons why it is important. Global leaders have studied it closely as body language expert Patti Woods MA CSP says, “Simply put: Body language helps candidates win elections and corporate leaders win investors and the public’s loyalty.”
It can give away when we are don’t believe what we are saying, or when we become defensive, but what is the body language that we need to know about that isn’t as obvious as us crossing our arms in front of our chests when being challenged on a point?
Your Body will Show your Lies
According to Woods, during the presidential elections it was clear when Romney talked he rarely told the truth, “Watch almost any tape of Romney on YouTube and you’ll see how often he makes definitive positive statements with his words and then shakes his head “no.” That’s a clear indication that his subconscious does not agree with his cognitive thought. In other words, he is lying.” In order to have credibility, you need to master the nonverbal cues so that they match your words. For example, you smile – But make sure your eyes smile too – say enthusiastically the positive message that you are trying to convey. If you want to be believed further, then hold your hands up and show your palms at shoulder height.
Be Confident – Stand Up Straight
This one is obvious right? Well then… how come we see so many people slouching in important meetings or even interviews? When people are talking about something they love, they sit up, look up and hold their heads high (think chin up). They are confident in their feelings for this, and this is replicated in their body language.
Stand with Both Feet on the Floor
According to Lillian Glass, author of “The Body Language Advantage”, keeping your feet planted to the floor indicates confidence and grounding.
Hands behind your back
Positioning your body so it takes up as much space as possible also makes us appear larger than life to other people. You often see men putting their hands behind their back as it puffs their chest out and takes up more space. Women though don’t tend to use this stance for obvious reasons (I will leave you to figure that one out). Normally in this situation, women put their hands on their hips using their other hand to gesticulate and point – again having the same end result without drawing unwanted attention to certain parts of their anatomy.
Keep your hands where they can be seen – Never in your pockets. Nicholas Fradet suggests palms up is used when people back down from something, or (when used especially with arms held up and stretched out) when we want to convey love and trust. The pope is a great example of this stance.
Conversely, Fradet says, “Downward palms with straightened fingers indicate a sense of authority, even dominance or defiance. When a person does this while talking to you, it means he is not going to budge and you might have to change your approach.”
Most importantly though, DON’T FIDGET! If you fidget, it appears you really don’t have confidence in what you are saying. If you fidget when other people are talking, it says that you don’t believe what you are being told – You don’t have the confidence in them. This is fine if you are wanting to purposely be rude or make a point, but if you have someone that has rehearsed a speech especially for you… Is this really the impression that you want to leave them with?