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Body Language 101: Basic Tips For Success

Good body language is the key to powering up your daily interactions. It helps build and improve your rapport with others and makes you feel better about yourself. Here are basic tips from BrainGain magazine.
BY Tridib Misra |   07-09-2015

Body language refers to the non-verbal signals and cues we use to communicate. Psychologists and communication experts contend that the majority of face-to-face communication between human beings is done non-verbally. Your body language, therefore, communicates much more than your verbal expression.

Considering the research that has been done on the subject, it is important to be aware of your body language, and what it conveys. On understanding just the basics, you can change not only the way others feel about you, but also how you feel about yourself.

Here are a few tips on how you can use body language to build rapport and comfort with others, control your inner emotions, and transform into a confident and positive person!
 

THE “HIGH POWER POSE”

Image credit: Business Insider/House of Cards

So what exactly are “high power poses”?

These are poses that exude confidence and dominance. They are stances/postures, which takes up space expansively. Think of the superman pose - standing with your arms on your hips and your legs wide apart. Another example is pictured above.

Resarch at the Harvard Business School, by American social psychologist Amy Cuddy, revealed that if you take a high power pose for just two minutes, you rapidly boost your testosterone levels. The testosterone hormone is associated with dominance, optimism and risk-taking. On the other hand, in two minutes of a low power pose, you actually increase cortisol, which is associated with stress, diffidence and risk aversion.

Such findings suggest that you should be aware of your body language, and the impact it has on your thoughts, feelings and physiology. When you are not genuinely feeling confident, power posing can change your emotional state for the better.

So what are you waiting for? Strike that high power pose and see how you feel!
 

THE POWER OF YOUR PALM

Hands communicate a lot. And we aren’t talking about the all too familiar rude hand gestures! We are talking about more refined, tactful methods, in which you can communicate with your hands.

Let’s begin with the handshake. The first impression is often the longest lived, and most business/professional meetings start off with a handshake. The gesture is something that many get wrong. Yet, with a basic understanding of handshakes, you can have more control over that crucial first impression.

Two things to keep in mind are (1) the power/pressure you apply and (2) the angle at which you shake hands.

1.The amount of power/pressure can show one of three things: dominance, neutrality or submission. To ensure neutrality in relationship power-play, you should match the power and pressure you receive. However, if you want to show dominance, be a bit firmer.

2.The angle of the handshake suggests who has “the upper hand”. Essentially, the hand at the top has the advantageous position in the relationship between the two. If you want to dominate in the relationship, or give the message that you will dominate, have the upper hand.

Apart from these basics of handshaking, using your hands while talking can have great impact on your overall communication. Gestures, motions and movements can increase the attention of the listener, making your overall message (no matter what it is), non-threatening/ non intimidating. Articulate hand movements generally increase engagement with your audience.
 

THE EYES ARE THE WINDOW TO THE SOUL

It is often said, “The eyes are the window to the soul”. And rightly so. The eyes do say a lot. And how you use them when communicating with someone can have a huge impact on the authenticity of your overall message.

Always make a conscious effort to make good eye contact when you are talking to someone. Equally important, make eye contact when you are listening. This shows that you are genuinely interested in engaging with the person, and that their opinions and thoughts are important to you.

However, take appropriate breaks while making eye contact, because if you don’t, it could end up being not “good eye contact”, but staring. Communication expert Leil Lowndes has a great technique for this. She says, “Pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky warm taffy. When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks”. When you do stop making eye contact, do not suddenly look away; stop the contact in a slow process.

With these basic tips in mind, you can ensure that your body language and non-verbal cues are in sync with what you are saying verbally, and accentuate the content of your speech. Also, you being aware of your body language will give you greater control over your inner self, because, just as our mind governs our body language, our body language governs our minds.
 

Tridib Misra (@tridibmisra) writes on education, skills and leadership. He is passionate about development, and wants to use the confluence of technology and education to change communities and countries.

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