How much does our body language and gesture influcence the image that others make of us? Also, how do these signs affect ourself and our self-image? Does it matter in a conversation or in a negotiation?
Certainly, body language has a significant impact on people around us, their way of thinking and their judgment on us. But how does body language affect us?
For instance, imagine the following:
You enter a room where there are two job applicants sitting at the table. One of them is keeping her back straight, her hands are resting on the table. Her shoulders are dropped and overall she is showing an engaging, kind and confident impression.
The other person is sitting with a hunched back, trying to make himself smaller, holding his head with his arms, gazing towards the floor, and his whole posture suggests that he doesn’t want to be noticed being present.
Which one of them would you pick and find more competent?
For sure, most people would give the first person a chance and would initiate a conversation with her. Whatever your body posture is and the way you use gestures, it all affects the other people in your environment. Moreover, this often happens in an unconscious way. For example, someone saying, ‘I don’t know why but somehow I have a bad feeling about this person.’ In this case, the body language could have made an effect that reflected a negative feeling. That is why job interview candidates are advised to pay attention to a firm handshake that is not too strong. Additionally, they better smile when they first meet a company representative.
As its name implies, body language and all its minor elements are considered as ‘speech’ as well, even if they are not made up of words and sentences. Body language is also a kind of communication, which must be given at least the same attention as verbal expressions.
It is well-known that the majority of people form an opinion about the others when they meet in the first 30 seconds. In a business meeting or in a job interview this may be very important, as the goal is to make the other person (or audience) as impressed as possible and build confidence for ourselves.
For instance, if you enter a room and notice that your business partner sits back and rests both of his hands on his neck, what kind of image do you create of him? He definitely reflects that he is confident, self-conscious and knows exactly what he wants. His posture suggests dominance. In contrary, the same person would provide a very different impression if he bends his back or drops his head. In this case, you would feel that he is uncertain, tense, or even frightened.
The same principles apply to you if you are preparing for an exam as a student. A student with a positive attitude will certainly establish a better impression on the teacher than someone who suggests with his or her posture that he or she is a loser.
Posture affects your mind:
For example, if you keep a pencil in your mouth, you’ll notice that this makes you smile, making you cheerful.
Your mind influences your behavior:
If you are more cheerful, you behave more positively, thus you form a more positive opinion about yourself and others.
Your behavior affects the outcome:
If you have a better opinion, you will achieve more on a negotiation or on a job interview, therefore you’ll be more successful!
Finally, here is another useful tip that can be utilized not only when speaking about body language, but also during participation on a job interviews or a lecture:
Pretend, AS IF you were assertive, AS IF you had self-confidence, AS IF you knew exactly what you want. Even if you do not feel that way. Fake it, till you make it. How does body language affect us? This is the key indeed.
To sum up, using this technique, you certainly can create a much better impact. Not only on others, but on yourself as well, so your self-confidence will increase, and sooner or later you will reach the stage where you no longer have to imitate this “fake” behavior, because you have mastered it. As a consequence, it’ll go from routine without thinking.
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