Body Language: Speak Volumes Without Saying a Word

Believe it or not, most communication is nonverbal. Are you really saying what you think you’re saying? If you often find that people misunderstand you, perhaps your body language is communicating different thoughts than what your voice is saying!

Adjusting your body language can strengthen your communications and help you make a better impression in all kinds of social and professional settings. Facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture all communicate certain meanings. When your body language agrees with your words, what you say is much more powerful.

Whether you wonder what messages you’re sending with your body language or you just want some tips to brush up on your communication skills, here are some techniques you can try.

General Principles

  1. Match up your body and speech. To appear authentic, you want your body language and speech to be consistent. If you’re telling someone you enjoyed the date but you’re anxiously rubbing your forehead, you’ll create some doubts.
  2. Mirror others. When people are on the same page, they naturally start mimicking each other’s expressions and movements. You can make it easier to connect with people by doing this intentionally. Do this sparingly, though; too much mirroring and your efforts will start to look like a comedy routine.

  3. Double check your assumptions. As you become more knowledgeable about nonverbal messages, keep in mind that different causes can produce the same behavior. You may want to use additional cues to discern their real meaning.
  • For example, if someone is looking around the room while you talk, they may be bored with what you’re saying. Or they may be too tired to concentrate on anything. Or maybe they’re especially interested in the interior decorating! Asking them questions can lead you to the correct meaning of their body language.

Adjustments for Your Head

  1. Make eye contact. While there are cultural differences, subtle eye contact is often interpreted as being friendly and honest. Look people in the eye when you’re first introduced. As someone is talking, meet their eye from time to time to show interest, while also looking away for appropriate intervals to avoid staring.
  2. Hold your head up. Looking at the ground all the time may give people the impression you’re depressed or trying to avoid them. Keeping your head up enables you to look more approachable.
  3. Nod judiciously. Nod your head slightly to let someone know they have your attention and you agree with what they’re saying.
  4. Smile. A smiling face is your best asset, whether you’re at a job interview or trying to resolve a family conflict. Our relationships become more harmonious when we reassure people that we like them. Smiling is a primary way to do this.

Adjustments for Your Body

  1. Work on your hand shake. Palm to palm contact is the most important ingredient in your handshake. Ask a friend for their feedback to ensure your handshake sends the message you want.
  2. Control your hand gestures. Hand gestures can reinforce what you’re saying and make your presentations more effective. Make your gestures with confidence so you look composed and engaged.
  3. Stand straight and relaxed. Good posture has important health and social benefits. Press your navel against your lower back, open your chest and relax your shoulders. You’ll come across as open and self assured.
  4. Keep your arms and legs open. Crossing your arms and legs can seem defensive and distant. If you often adopt this position because your office is chilly, try wearing a sweater or a layer of long underwear instead.

  5. Slow down. We can easily get caught up in rushing from one task to the next. Pausing briefly or intentionally slowing down your movements can help you feel more poised.

  6. Lean forward. Inclining slightly toward someone is a great way to show that you like them and that you care about what they’re saying. Just facing someone while they talk can help. When you’re addressing a group, shift positions occasionally.

  7. Respect the personal space of others. Be sensitive to their comfort zones. Back up a little if you sense that someone is feeling crowded.

Body language is an important interpersonal skill. By taking conscious control of your nonverbal communication, you help yourself to feel more confident and you put others at ease.

How to Polish Your Small-Talk Skills

If you want to make new friends and advance in your career, learn to connect with others through small talk.

Here are 3 simple steps for striking up conversation and making the most of networking events:

Preparation Before A Networking Event

1. Have a few topics of conversation prepared. Stay current with community and world events. Read the latest industry publications. Offer sincere compliments if you like someone’s hat or if you know that they recently won an award.

2. Rehearse answers to common questions. Practice your responses to questions that you hear all the time. Put an interesting or amusing spin on your description of where you work or your hometown.

3. Check your body language. Above all, try to relax. Appearing confident and friendly will help you have a good time and meet more people. You’ll also help those around you to feel more at ease.

Basic Communication Principles

1. Greet people. Let your greetings make a good first impression. Take the initiative to say hello and offer your name. Smile and shake hands. Repeat the other person’s name so you’ll be more likely to remember it.

2. Ask open-ended questions. Keep the dialogue flowing with open-ended questions. Ask people about their impressions and experiences.

3. Practice active listening. Give people your full attention and show your enthusiasm. Turn off your cell phone or at least put it on vibrate if you have to take urgent calls.

4. Enter group conversations. If everyone’s already engaged, you can still find opportunities to be included. When you see two people talking, check first to avoid interrupting something personal. With larger groups, discreetly wait until there’s an opening to make an appropriate comment.

5. Keep it brief. Leave people wanting more. Learn to excuse yourself tactfully by mentioning that you need to speak with someone or get something to eat. Let people know that you appreciated meeting them or hope to see them again soon.

Special Tips for Networking Events

1. Take advantage of easy icebreakers. Networking events are designed for meeting people, so seize the opportunity. It’s natural to talk about why you came and the benefits you’re hoping to achieve. Just take an equal interest in helping others with their goals.

2. Ask for information if you’re a newcomer. If it’s your first time, ask others for their guidance. Many people will be flattered to share their knowledge. Tell the workers at the registration desk that you’re new, and they may point out people on their welcoming committee or individuals in your line of business.

3. Offer assistance if you’re a veteran. If you’re already familiar with the organization, help newcomers feel at home. You may make valuable connections and you’ll create a positive environment for everybody.

4. Exchange introductions. Broaden your network by identifying people you want to meet and mutual colleagues who can help introduce you. Be ready to reciprocate when others ask for introductions. Check the registration sheet for the names and affiliations of interesting people or use business-oriented social networks like LinkedIn to get more ideas.

5. Share business cards. When you’ve had a promising conversation, use your business cards to help make a lasting connection. Offer your card and reiterate any specific reason for staying in touch. When someone gives you their card, use the back to jot down any details you need to remember.

Get comfortable with schmoozing. Improving your small talk skills will help you build your self-confidence and broaden your social and business networks.

Dealing with Toxic People: Seven Proven Strategies

We all have them in our lives. Whether they are a family member, an old friend, or the grocery store manager, toxic people seem to be showing up everywhere in our lives. And while we might yearn to get rid of them, chances are someone toxic to you will always be a part of your life. Instead of wishing the problem would go away, try one of these methods of dealing with it. Over time you’ll find that these toxic people can be handled quite effectively.

Keep a Professional Attitude

One of the ways that a toxic individual can become so damaging to your self-esteem or spiritual well being is by pulling you into an emotional, opinion-based argument. They thrive on this type of confrontation, and often will leave their victim, unintended or not, gasping for emotional air. The best way to avoid this situation is to take their weapons away from them. Keep your attitude when dealing with a toxic person strictly professional, focusing on the facts of the situation, and not opinions or conjectures. If the toxic person can’t seem to make any progress with resorting to emotional weapons, suggest that the subject be approached at a later time.

Seek Help From a 3rd Party

Sometimes no matter how professional you try to be, a toxic person will not work with you. During these times, it is often prudent to bring in a third party to help mitigate the situation at hand. Sometimes a third party can help the toxic person see things from your point of view, or even allow for a toxic person’s ideas to be presented in a more palatable format. Whichever the case, a third party can often mean a new perspective and a fresh idea when everything else has been exhausted.

Pay Attention to Your Body Language and Posture

Toxic people are adept at reading your body’s cues and reading your posture. They are looking for weak areas in your defenses, places where your armor is not quite as strong. Things such as crossing your arms, pounding your fists on the table, biting your lower lip, and even glowering can be prime indications that you are frustrated or mad – perfect opportunities for a toxic person to make their move. Instead, try and keep a relaxed pose, with your arms loosely at your sides and your breathing steady and normal. If they can’t see a way to agitate you, chances are they won’t even try. Plus, keeping a relaxed pose has been shown to aid in keeping your mental state relaxed and reduce stress.

Revenge is not worth it

Many a movie and book have been created through the idea of revenge. However, in practical terms, revenge is really not all that it is cracked up to be, especially when dealing with toxic people. In truth, it will often make you look even worse than the toxic person that instigated the desire for revenge. Instead, use those feelings for revenge and re-focus them into becoming a better person, professional, or partner. The world itself will eventually bring its own justice to the toxic person. Why put more effort into it when you clearly don’t need to? Trust me, the higher road is the better one to take.

Create an Exit Plan

If you know that you are going to encounter a toxic person, take the time to plan and exit strategy. This can be as simple as “remembering an appointment” to requesting more time to research some new information. The trick is to get out of the situation as quickly and as professionally as you can before it turns bad. Remember though, to keep your interaction, no matter how brief professional and above board.

Be Kind

Often the only way that a toxic person can truly affect you is if you let them. By answering their vitriolic remarks with words of kindness or a smile, you’ll find that the impact of their attacks won’t be as great. It is also a great way to keep your mind focused on the task at hand, and not worrying about how you’re going to best them during the next round. While it probably won’t change their outlook, it will certainly improve yours.

Avoid the Situation and the Person

Every so often, however, there are people and situations that cannot be fixed or alleviated, no matter how hard you try. If you find yourself in this situation, sometimes the best course of action is to walk away. Life is entirely too precious, and too short to waste it on people who bring you down to a level you don’t want to be at. However, if avoidance isn’t a viable option for you, perhaps one of these other methods will be effective.

10 Ways to Improving Low Self Esteem

Self-esteemImproving self esteem is a good thing to do but how do you do it? Physically or subconsciously we all have this desire.

Below are ten things you can do to help boost your self-esteem!

  1. Make a list of things that you want to improve – regarding yourself. Start with how you communicate with others. Check them off as you complete them and then move onto another list of 10.
  2. Start showing a good opinion of yourself to everyone – no you don’t have to be conceded but positivity shines in many ways – never give a negative light about yourself – EVER!
  3. Create a goal for yourself by knowing what you want – find out how the people around you or the ones you meet can help you get closer to your goals. This will help you determine how you can approach each person. Do this always and the results are noticeable.
  4. Get driven and motivate yourself – even if you are not feeling it! Pretend until you do. Let everyone know how any of them can help you in your goals. People who are very driven end up being successful in their careers.
  5. Treat every person that you meet as important – This is a great mindset to develop! You will see how surprising this is!
  6. Give a good handshake and look them in the eye – Don’t be too firm with the shake but nice and firm and not too hard. Look for a character trait you find positive in every person you meet.
  7. Learn to listen – notice what other people say and pay attention. Remember a person’s name and ask again after visiting if you don’t – it’s okay to ask again. Use their name in conversation – this will help tremendously!
  8. Show people that you are listen by nodding or other gestures – People read body language.
  9. Remind yourself that it is not always about you by noticing and responding to others around you.
  10. Do not interrupt a person mentally or verbally – give full attention to that person – it’s rude if you don’t.

These interaction tips will help you greatly on your journey to great self esteem! Good luck :)