Why is body language so important?
At least 80% of all human interaction is non-verbal, so if we want to be good at communicating, we need to use this to our advantage. Also, we humans use body language to transfer our emotion and feeling. We live in a world that’s dominated by digital communication, which can make it difficult to understand exactly what people are trying to put across when they converse through email and text. Words are about information; body language is about the emotion behind that. Without it, you often find yourself questioning how something was meant to be taken – was the person being sarcastic, passive-aggressive or genuine?
Are we losing the art of body language?
Because it is so easy to communicate with people over emails or text, it’s true that we’re missing out on a lot of face-to-face interaction. When we do have an important meeting or discussion with someone, getting it right can be quite difficult. I work with a lot of young people on things like interview techniques and they can find it hard because they’re not used to those situations. It’s a real shame – people spend so much time preparing for an interview or getting the academic results that they need, but they can blow it all in two seconds because they walk into a room in the wrong way or don’t use eye contact correctly.
How can the right body language boost our confidence?
There are three ways it can help. First, body language is important in how we project ourselves and how we want people to see us. If we want to appear confident, we can use the right cues to show this. Second, it’s important to be able to read other people’s body language so that you know how they’re feeling and can interact more comfortably and confidently with them. If you can read the signs, you can pick up on their emotions and adjust your body language accordingly. Finally – and I think this is the key thing – when we use body language to our advantage, not only do we change the way other people perceive us, but we actually change the way we feel too.
Mike’s 8 Tips For Boosting Confidence Through Body Language:
1. Prepare Your Posture
Posture is really important. There’s a lot being said about power poses at the moment, but I don’t think these are useful because they can be intimidating and mean you come across as arrogant rather than confident. Instead, with shoulders relaxed and heads tilted back a little bit, you can show you’re comfortable in the situation and self-assured.
Use posture to your advantage before an important meeting or appointment, as well as during it. Rather than sitting crouched over your phone or slouched in a chair in the moments before the event, put your phone away, sit straight-backed or stand comfortably. That will make you feel more confident when the big moment comes.
2. Try Diaphragmatic Breathing
This essentially refers to deep breathing – and inhaling right from your belly. Everyone knows this can have a big impact on how they feel, because it’s common to tell people to ‘take a deep breath’ if they’re feeling anxious or nervous. For a confidence boost, ensure you’re breathing deeply, regularly and rhythmically from your belly. This does several things: it makes you feel more confident; it makes you sound more confident (because our voices are relaxed); and it makes other people feel more comfortable around you, because you sound secure and reassuring.
3. Keep Your Hands In View
When you hide your hands, you lose credibility. If you’re tucking your hands into your sleeves, putting them in your pockets, sitting on them or folding your arms, you don’t look comfortable. Keep your hands open and in sight at all times.
4. Don’t Lift Your Heels Off The Floor
Keep your feet firmly on the floor and you will feel physically and metaphorically grounded, which will help project an image of stability.
5. Loosen Your Jaw
A lot of people hold tension in their jaw and neck. Relax this part of the body and you release stress. This helps you feel more relaxed and comfortable, and therefore come across as more confident.
6. Maintain Eye Contact When Listening
The important thing to remember with eye contact is that it’s a cultural thing – it means different things in different areas of the world. In most parts of the western world, the rule is: when you’re speaking, you can break eye contact as often as you like; but when you’re listening, you need to maintain it all the time. If you do break eye contact when you’re listening to someone talk, it might suggest that you’re uncomfortable, bored or dismissive.
7. Don’t Consciously Echo Someone’s Body Language
It’s well known that when we’re feeling comfortable with someone we naturally echo their movements. People often ask me whether you should you try to do this in different situations. I always say no – don’t force it, because it will look unnatural. If you get all the other aspects right, you’ll do it without even thinking about it.
8. Don’t Obsess Over Your Body Language
Your body language can be a really good tool to use in all aspects of your life, but don’t obsess over it as you’ll come across as slightly strange and it will look unnatural. My advice is to focus on one thing at a time – that way the other aspects will start to come naturally to you.
For more information, visit BodyLanguageWorkshops.com
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