Lets start this blog with a ludicrous example of what not to do. There is in fact one person who promptly comes to mind and who clearly should have skim read this post before making any sort of public appearance. Melania Trump, as most of the world saw, was not-so-subtle about her disinterest in her husband’s inauguration— so in true 21st century fashion, let’s use someone else’s disaster as our gain.

To put this into perspective, research has found that 50–90% of communication is non-verbal, which can be detrimental if you if you don’t know how to control/apply it .

5 Top Tips:

  1. To boost your confidence, assume a power pose

Research at Harvard and Colombia SC have both found that holding your body in ‘high power’ positions, for more than 2 minutes, stimulates higher levels of testosterone. The study found that this lead to increased feelings of power and heightened tolerance to risk.

2. To increase participation, pretend that you’re listening

Turning your torso to face the individual, whilst maintaining eye contact and make regular ‘nodding’ movements, reassures the speaker of your attention.

3. To encourage collaboration, remove barriers

It is important to remember to remove barriers when interacting with people in a 121 or group situation. Take away anything that blocks your view, or the view of your body, as it may form as a barrier between you and the rest of the team. This can be as simple as holding your coffee at waist height rather than chest height.

4. To connect instantly with someone, shake their hand

Touching is the most primitive and powerful, non verbal form of communication. Studies have found that touching someone for as little as a 40th of a second creates an unexplainable human bond. This tactile contact with others makes strong and lasting relationships, but is reinforced by the fact that we’re programmed to feel closer to those we’ve touched.

A study carried out by the Income Centre for Trade Shows found that if you shake someone’s hand, they’re twice as likely to remember you, as well as being perceived as more open and friendly. This is crucial for business success if you want to be optimally persuasive, effective and memorable.

5. To stimulate good feelings, smile!

Andrew Newberg concluded that the ‘smile’, is the symbol with the highest rated emotional content. Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms, in a way that even chocolate can’t match.

In case you were interested…

To improve on your memory, uncross your arms and legs

To show agreement, mirror expressions, gestures and posture

To improve on your speech, use your hands

If you want to know the truth, look at their feet (Are they moving around?!)

To sound authoritative, keep your voice down

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Using this to your advantage

No one can say how much body language can influence a persons first impression, but some say it can be as high as 90%. Considering first impressions set the stage for future interactions, I’m surprised there isn’t more emphasis in early school curriculum.

When in a job interview, it is imperative that you make a good first impression. As cliche as it sounds, the interviewer has already made their mind up within the first 15 minutes.

Life Hacks

A lot of body language involves the way you position and hold your posture. Making sure you sit up straight, keeping tension in your abs and stomach, increases your height and size and consequently, your confidence, stature and influence.

Not only does this affect how people perceive you as a person, it makes you happier AND more productive. Besides, it also has great physiological benefits as well.

This brings me nicely onto my next point, which is keeping your feet shoulder width apart. Having a small gap between your feet gives others the impression that the you are insecure and uncomfortable.

Many of us develop a sense of anxiety when entering a room full of people we don’t know. Although it’s in our human nature to identify ourselves as part of a group and ‘fit’ in, this gives us a fantastic opportunity to shine. ‘Peacocking’ is a tremendous way to quickly make good first impressions in a group scenario. You can do this through the way you dress, move and speak. Make sure you greet the crowd, making enough eye contact with each individual to have made a connection.

Another trick, although slightly strange and unorthodox, something which I find particularly helpful at networking events is to wave at ‘imaginary’ friends. I’m aware this is silly but by doing this, you have signified to others in the room that you are part of a group, you know people, and therefore are an automatic draw for others who haven’t necessarily made these bonds yet. Pretending you know people, as odd as it sounds, actually makes you feel more confident, and as well as this, you’ll have more time to look around and evaluate your situation.

The dreaded Handshake

Although nothing more than a small caress between palms, the handshake can be the be all and end all of a business deal. A handshake is teamwork, and quickly signifies the each other’s intentions.

Remember not to break their wrists. More often than not, I find my fragile hands crumbling under the unwarranted pressure of testosterone and sometimes canape fuelled ego’s. Men at networking events measuring %£&”* by silently competing for the alpha position. No. You are here to make long lasting, worthwhile, mutually beneficial relationships with other business owners and professionals.

Another important point would be to maintain eye contact when making the handshake. If you look away, even for a split second, it can have very negative connotations.

How to read people’s minds

The study of microexpressions can prove very insightful when participating in human interaction. A microexpression is a brief, involuntary facial expression that is shown on ones face, according to the emotions that are being experienced. Unlike regular prolonged facial expressions, it is very difficult to fake a microexpression.

There are several different microexpressions: fear, disgust, anger, sadness, happiness, surprise and contempt and they occur as quickly as 1/15–1/25th of a second.

Take a look at this video to give you a better idea…

Feeling more confident?

Why not try take the test….