We say it all without saying a word. This sentence, although it oozes mass romanticism, contains scientifically proven truths. According to research by psychologist Albert Mehrabian on factors involved in persuasion, 55% of the effectiveness of speech lies in body language, followed, at some distance, by tone of voice (38%) and lastly, by the words used (7%). Knowing this fact, we cannot allow ourselves to be negligent of our appearance, posture and gestures because others are obviously not!
Not long ago, we spoke about the importance of preparing first impressions at a job interview: we only need 7 seconds to build an opinion of another person. During a first meeting, our body language takes on the main role. Did you know that we can produce almost a million signs, over 200,000 facial expressions, almost 1,000 different postures and 5,000 different gestures? Heads up! We must be careful with cultural differences; the same gesture or expression may differ from country to country, understanding your cultural surrounding is essential. Your intuition is your best aid in adjusting or enhancing your body language in these situations.
How to use your body language
1. When you are arguing and dealing with a furious colleague. Your objective is to empathise with the upset colleague to lessen the tension. Your body can help you:
- Use body gestures that transmit active listening and understanding. For example: lean the upper part of your body slightly towards the person or raise your hand to your chin as you nod.
- Turn the palms of your hands upwards: it shows sincerity. Otherwise, you will be transmitting an attitude of control (or trying to put out fire with oil).
2. In a job interview. Show that you are delighted with the opportunity and predisposed to give your all in the selection process.
- Lean your body towards the interviewer, showing that he or she has your total and undivided attention.
- Use the mirror technique to create affinity with the interviewer. In other words: try to imitate his or her gestures. It is a way of showing that you share the same values or opinions.
- Make and maintain visual contact. Not doing so may be due to nerves…but it will make you look untrustworthy.
There are gestures that work against you, so keep them well hidden at decisive moments like job interviews:
- Putting your hands on your hips, with your elbows sticking out, transmits aggressiveness and impatience.
- Constantly looking at your watch, or rubbing your eyes, ears or cheeks, projects a lack of interest and boredom with the message, the situation or the speaker.
- Crossing your legs or your arms all the time makes you look like you have your guard up and you are out of play. Don’t sit with your legs open either, it’s undignified and unprofessional.
- Playing with your hair or constantly repeating a movement reflects insecurity.
3. When you meet a potential client, the above tips are applicable, but also, smile! At the end of the day, you’re building a new relationship. Be cautious! Like with everything in this life, don’t overdo it. Excessive smiling could lead someone to believe you’re flirting with them.
4. Presenting a product.
- Speak to your audience, don’t turn your back on them! The projector can’t describe a product or idea like a human. Target your effort and attention to your audience, not the machine!
- Don’t constantly look at the monitor. The project is yours, isn’t it? Show that you are focused and dedicated to your presentation such that if a tyrannosaurus were to appear on screen chewing gum, you would be perfectly capable and committed to continuing your presentation.
- Don’t stay still for the entire presentation. Use your movements to reinforce your speech and show that you are in the room.
We like 82% of the world at first sight. It’s in our hands to make sure that how we are seen is positive!