The honesty of body language

Ever have random people smiling at you while walking through a shopping centre? You think to yourself ‘Wow, they’re really friendly’. Chances are that you’re walking around with a smile on your face and they’re responding to you.

Has it ever occurred to you how much you are saying to people even when you are not speaking? Unless you are a master of disguise, you are constantly sending messages about your true thoughts and feelings whether you are using words or not.

Your body language doesn’t merely reflect your emotions, it’s often the cause. By learning some of the principal ways that your own posture, gestures, facial expression and even tone of voice affect your mind, you will be more aware of the factors influencing your mood, and give yourself an edge in presentations and negotiations.

Learning body language will help you connect with people better because it will allow you to expand your communication abilities. If you can pick up on tiny gestures the other person makes you can understand them better which leads to a better connection.

Here’s how to use your body language effectively to make you more persuasive and influential.

Start with a smile

Look at people straight in the eyes and give them a warm, sincere smile. That’s it, smiling at other people has the power to change their focus and lift their spirits in an instant of time. It forms an immediate connection between you and them, and sends a powerful message of good will. It’s a friendly little gesture that can reach clear across a room and touch the heart of a complete stranger. That’s pretty powerful!

It sounds so simple, but a smile is one of the most powerful tools you can use to connect with other people. Big smiles make people think of you as warm, confident and approachable — all traits that garner trust from others. People are always more willing to listen to your point of view if they like you and a smile is the first step in building a positive relationship.

Match their movements

When you mirror another person’s behaviours, you create a strong connection with that person. It has to be genuine, and it actually tends to happen naturally just out of our realm of conscious awareness. When talking with people, we tend to engage in a subconscious rhythmic mimicking. The power of this technique lies in being aware of it, and using it to your advantage. When others mimic you, it is also a sign of connection and agreement. So if people are not showing the same expressions that you’re showing, it might be a sign that they haven’t bought in to you.

Know the “power posture”

Power posing: The act of taking a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel so confident, to make yourself more dominant. Power poses are expansive and open. Stand up and spread your legs wide. Plot your hands on your hips, take a breath and puff your chest out. Notice how you automatically stand straighter and your head is high? If you’re leading a presentation, simply stand up. Sitting down is passive. Standing up commands attention and respect. Stand up and lean over the table – just like birds make themselves bigger and more powerful by spreading their wings, you, too, can convey more power if you take up more space.

Eye contact

Eye contact is the most obvious way you communicate. When you are looking at the other person, you show interest. When you fail to make eye contact, you give the impression that the other person is of no importance. Maintain eye contact about 60% of the time in order to look interested, but not aggressive. Here’s a simple technique to improve eye contact: Whenever you greet a business colleague, look into his or her eyes long enough to notice what colour they are.

Head gestures

If you want people to say “yes” to you, get them nodding their head in agreement before you even ask a question. If you nod at someone, they will unconsciously feel the urge to do it back. As we’ve already learned, people unconsciously mimic each other when they’re in rapport. Start by nodding when they talk, as if you’re confirming or agreeing with their statements. Then, nod when you’re making your own statements, and watch how they start nodding back. When someone is already nodding, they are much more likely to start agreeing with you when you make a proposal — providing you are suggesting something which is not unreasonable.

The position of your head speaks to people. Keeping your head straight will make you appear self-assured and authoritative. People will take you seriously. If you want to come across as friendly and open, tilt your head to one side. Tilting the head to the side communicates the message that a person is interested in what he’s seeing or listening to. It’s a submission gesture that is commonly used by women when they’re in the company of someone they like or are simply interested in the on-going conversation.

Improve your ability to influence

Much of what we communicate is done non-verbally, yet most people don’t realise how to use body language to their benefit. When using these techniques in combination with targeted language designed to help the listener find you interesting, then intriguing, and finally irresistible, you will significantly increase your ability to influence others.

With that in mind, Maurice Kerrigan Africa offers a two-day Influential Business Communication training course that will equip you with the communication skills you need to have a greater influence within your organisation and with other people.

Book your seat at their upcoming course scheduled for 29 – 30 March, 2017 in Johannesburg.

Click here to look at Maurice Kerrigan Africa’s public course training schedule.

To find out more about the training courses offered by Maurice Kerrigan Africa or to arrange an appointment, simply call +27 11 794 1251 or email




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