by Dr. Joyce M. Knudsen
She walks into a room and five people run up to greet her. She’s not as qualified as you, but she gets the job. She’s not that smart or attractive, but she always seems to be sought after for business lectures.
♦ How does she do it?
♦ She has charm. She has the ability to draw people to her. She has an attitude about herself, about others and about the world. People like to be around her because she makes them feel good. With her positive outlook, helping nature, friendliness, energy and caring for others, she is a winner.
♦ Body language includes movements of a part of the body, such as a nod of the head or a raising of the eyebrows and movement of the entire body, such as overall body tension or jumping up and down. It is not always easy to precept different meanings of body language because this involves interpretation. If someone came into our office and was frowning you might interpret that they are in a bad mood, but the look could be totally unintentional.
♦ The study of body motion, kinesics, involves the study of body movements in communication. It is estimated that the verbal part of a conversation carries less than 35% of the social meaning of the conversation. Sixty-five percent is carried by nonverbal messages.
This is what makes understanding nonverbal communication so important.
♦ Body movements and positions can be considered either reflexive (involuntary) or nonreflexive (voluntary. One reflexive motion is pupil dilation. Dr. Edward H. Hess explained to a kinesics convention that clinical studies have shown that the pupil unconsciously widens when the eye sees something pleasant, exciting or arousing. Nonreflexive body language can be much more difficult to interpret.
GUIDELINES FOR BODY LANGUAGE
Body language differs amongst cultures. In England, if you cross your fingers, you are saying, “OK” but in the United States, you are saying “good luck”.
A good example of trying to fake a gesture and how it is not effective is:
Look at a picture of yourself when you were genuinely smiling and compare it to when you had to pose for one. The reason that we tend to believe outstanding political leaders, brilliant actors, top trial lawyers and super salespeople is because of the fact that they believe in themselves and this will come through in their non-verbal communication. constricted pupils,pulling away,lack of eye contact,Negative Signals.
UNDERSTAND YOUR SIGNALS
♦ Become aware of the way you speak and gesture.
Exhibit good posture.
♦ Become aware of your mannerisms and nervous habits.
♦ Become aware of your handshake.
♦ Become aware of your eye contact.
♦ Become aware of how you communicate.
♦ Be natural . . . behave from the soul.
• The fewer hand and body gestures you make the more powerful and intelligent you appear to be.
• People who speak in a lower tone and those who speak slowly are perceived as being more powerful and believable.
• Leaders and powerful people take up more space than others do. They tend to lean slightly forward with their arms and legs relaxed and slightly spread. By taking up more space they appear to take charge.
• The person whose eye level is highest is usually perceived as the leader. People turn to address that person first.
• Smiling makes you seem friendly and more attractive.
PRACTICE THESE GUIDELINES AND THEY WILL BECOME HABIT . . .
Dr. Joyce M. Knudsen is known for two specialties: (1) International Home Study Certification Program for Image Consultants, Worldwide. (2) As a Certified Behavioral and Values Analyst she provides assessments on personal lifestyle development, DiSC Classic, DiSC General Characteristics, Time Mastery, Indra, Team Dimensions and so much more. Dr. Knudsen is the author of six books on the subject of self-image, a distinguished IMMIE Recipient, honored with the Award of Excellence for Education and was the very first Master Status Member (highest level of achievement) of The Association of Image Consultants, International.
Experience powerful new skills in dressing for success, business etiquette and social skills. You can read more about Dr. Knudsen on her web site at http://www.imagemaker1.com and you can test yourself to excellence on http://www.testingforexcellence.com
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Body Language -
What Are They
When we communicate with someone we will be doing so on a number of levels, not just the words that we use - tone of voice and body language are also important factors in non-verbal communication.
Eye contact - is one of the most powerful means of communication after words. It can be direct or indirect, long-lasting or short and more usually intermittent when talking to someone in normal conversation. Staring or holding eye contact for too long can make people feel uncomfortable and is unsettling. Appropriate eye contact is important for effective communication. People who like or feel comfortable with each other engage in eye contact more frequently. People who avoid eye contact are likely to be feeling uncomfortable, guilty or embarrassed.
Face - next on the list after the eyes. This is one of the first features we notice. By looking at someone's face we can read their emotion. Small gestures like the eyebrow flash happen almost subconsciously when we greet people we are pleased to see or who we know. A smile can also work wonders when greeting someone for the first time. It can also be used to calm and help people to feel at ease. A genuine smile lights up the whole face including the eyes, a forced or nervous smile tends to stay around the mouth. Where someone looks when you talk to them can tell you which side of the brain they're accessing and if they're a visual, auditory or kinetic person.
Posture - has a lot to say about how a person feels about themselves and the person they're with. Are they leaning in towards each other or away from each other? Mirroring someone's posture is a good way to create rapport and will happen naturally in some situations. Try it out but don't make it too obvious or it can be off-putting. What is the posture of someone who feels confident? How does someone sit/stand when they feel threatened or fearful? If you have to give a presentation and feel nervous - adopt a posture of confidence and think yourself into a positive mode. See what a difference it makes.
Hand gestures - particularly at the moment, we are exposed to the carefully managed gestures of politicians when giving their pre-election speeches. The use of hand gestures can be another interesting aspect of body language that show attitudes and emotions. An open palm signifies sincerity, openness. Steepling of the fingers is seen as authoritative, or used during negotiation when considering a proposal. Tapping or drumming the fingers shows impatience. Touching the face indicates thinking, the hair insecurity and the ears indecision.
Personal space - everyone has their own sense of personal space that we carry around with us. We should be aware of this personal space so that we don't invade someone's personal space uninvited. Invading someone's personal space can seem threatening and the person will move away to a more comfortable distance. In crowded situations personal space is greatly reduced and other factors will come into account such as avoidance of eye contact and the use of defensive postures.
Body contact - the handshake is the most recognised form of body contact and used in greetings and farewells. A firm handshake is preferred in both men and women. A weak handshake shows either ineffectiveness, insincerity or reluctance. Bone crusher handshakes on the other hand are seen as aggressive or overly dominant. People brought up where body contact is a normal part of family life tend to be more positive and open than those with less. Always be aware and observe what is acceptable with an individual or for different cultures.
When interpreting body language you need to take into account all parts of the body. Changes in a person's ‘normal’ body language indicate a change in emotion or attitude. Don't assume that because someone has their arms crossed they are being defensive, perhaps they really are just cold! Look at all the different signals before interpreting the final message - at least three to four and know what’s normal for that person.
Fun Exercise: Watch people's body language when you're next in a position to observe. How close are they? How much eye contact is there? Can you tell if they know/like each other? Are they strangers or friends? See how much of the conversation you can guess from observing people's body language.