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.

10 Easy Ways to Build Self-Confidence

You probably know someone who just exudes confidence. You might even have wondered, “What’s his secret? How can he be so positive about himself?”

The good news is that you, too, could be that confident. Yes, you could be the one that everyone envies and wonders about!

Surprisingly, self-confidence comes not from some inner gift, but from the things you do. For many, those actions occur naturally or have become ingrained in them. Because such people have done these things a lot in the past, they habitually do them now. By practicing these same actions, you’ll be taking the steps necessary to build your own self-confidence.

Use these strategies to become more self-assured:

  1. Take care with your appearance. How you feel about yourself is reflected in your appearance. Ensure your hair is styled and your clothes are well-fitting when you go out. When you know you look great, you feel great about yourself as well.
  2. Smile and look people in the eye. When you smile and make eye contact, it shows that you have a certain ease about you. People see this and respond positively toward you, giving you a lift as well!
  3. Give genuine compliments to others. Complimenting others shows that you feel good enough about yourself to give positive feedback to others.
  4. Know your strengths. Focus on doing whatever you’re best at. You’ll feel like an expert and know without a doubt that you excel in that area.
  5. Accept your imperfections. Letting go of the need to be perfect means you’re comfortable enough with yourself to admit your imperfections. After all, we all have them. Imperfections only show that you’re human – not that you’re flawed!
  6. Be prepared. Practicing this motto isn’t only for Boy Scouts. Preparedness will show you that you can be successful at whatever you set out to do. Being prepared increases confidence because you know what you’re doing. You’ve practiced in advance to perform whatever needs to be done.
  7. Have goals and work to achieve them. When your life has direction, you know where you’re going. You’ll be consistently working toward accomplishing your aspirations. Because you have goals, you’ll see the progress you’re making, and you’ll feel certain you’ll eventually accomplish them.
  8. Embrace whatever it is you love. Making time to do what you love makes you happy, content, and excited about your own life. It also makes you feel more in control of your life, which adds to your self-confidence.
  9. Excel at work. No matter what kind of work you do, you can strive to be the best at it. Developing a reputation at work as the “go to” person who can always get the job done is a fabulous confidence-builder.
  10. Forget about your ego. When you give up the need to prove something, you’ll be free of feeling compelled to put on airs and impress people. Instead, you’ll become more authentic and real with yourself. Prove to yourself instead of to others that you’re competent and confident and others will see it anyway.

Building your self-confidence takes time, focus and effort. However, your faith in yourself will grow with every small step you take. Start today and begin living as the person you always dreamed you’d be.

4 Strategies to Help You Remember Names

Do you find it embarrassing when you’re unable to recall someone’s name – especially when they remember yours?

Although some people seem to have an inherent talent for remembering names, we’re not all that fortunate. However, the good news is you can learn this important social skill.

Dale Carnegie, long known for his approach to business success, formulated an interesting 3-step method for remembering peoples’ names. Step 4, although not Dale Carnegie’s, will also help.

Try these strategies to help you memorize names the first time you meet someone:

  1. Immediately start imprinting the person’s name in your mind. Unfortunately, when we first meet someone new, we tend to focus on being polite. However, it’s wise to focus, instead, on the person’s name. Pay close attention to their name and make eye contact with them as you restate it.
    • If you don’t catch the name, state something like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name; could you repeat it?” Then, when they say their name, say it back to them to ensure you get it right, like, “Oh, it’s very nice to meet you, Jane Doe.”
  2. Repeat the name over and over. After you’ve said the name of the person back to them, repeat it to yourself — “Jane Doe, Jane Doe, Jane Doe.”
    • What you’re now doing is applying a basic rule of memory theory – if you want to remember something, repeat it over and over again to impress it into your short-term memory.
    • To solidify the name into your memory bank, repeat it to yourself throughout the day, evening and even the next day. Doing so will help you transfer the information into your long-term memory. Think, “Last night, I met Jane Doe and John Smith.”
    • When you meet up with another friend at the social event, mention, “I just met Jane Doe; she’s the woman with red hair and blue dress over there.” Any type of repetition of the person’s name will help you remember it later.
  3. Connect the name to an image in your mind. This strategy is very powerful. Make a mental picture of the person that will help you remember their name.
    • For example, if the person’s name is Rose Brown, imagine her sitting on a brown horse holding a bouquet of roses. Carnegie stressed that the more elaborate and nonsensical your mental picture, the more likely you are to recall the person’s name.
    • Of course, there will be times whenever the person’s name is not a common object (like Rose) or color (like Brown). During those times, there is all the more reason to visualize a quirky picture that will help you remember the person’s name.
    • For example, if a person’s name is Gloria Armstrong; imagine her singing the hymn, “Gloria” while pumping iron (think “arms strong”). The wackier your mental picture visualizing the person, the more likely it is you’ll remember their name.
  4. Use technology. Use your smartphone’s voice recording app to repeat a person’s name and a brief description of their characteristics.
  • If you don’t have voice recording capability, type in a quick note of the person’s name, where you met him, and some facts about him.

Whether you decide to use some or all of these steps to remember names, you’ll increase your ability to recall someone’s name later. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how successfully you recall names of people you’ve only briefly met. Strengthen your memory for names by practicing these simple strategies.

Talk to Your Child about Starting School

Children and schoolChildren often regret going back to school after a long and wonderful Summer break. Sometimes this can be really hard for them. It is important to talk about all of the things that are important about school and the positive things that the new school year will bring. Arrange and organize the child’s things for the next school year and keep school as part of the Summer as well.

Before school starts back – start mentioning the new start up. Let your child prepare and get ready for the next steps. Let them warm up to the idea that their schedule will again change drastically. Explain the importance of rest for school.

Acknowledge a child’s emotions about returning to school. It is important to validate what they share. If they say they don’t like school and really don’t want to go back – you can say that you understand that they don’t like school and feel they don’t want to go back. Ask why – what is bothering them – what is on their mind. Get them to talk about their fears and concerns. Then you can help them overcome them.

They may be scared of distance from a parent, or a new and unknown place. Explain how proud you are of them and make a big deal of their effort to try to adapt.
Help them learn how to stay in control if they are worried about teasing. If another child has teased them – teach them to remain calm and seek help if they feel they need it. Children can be mean at times – explain that the other children are learning about behavior as well.

Listen to what your child is saying – pay attention – give eye contact – repeat back what they have said. Be interested and concerned. Be positive and comfortable talking about everything. Keep the lined of communication flowing!

Moving from school to school can also cause stress for a child. Learning the ropes and gaining new friends all over again can be so stressful. Find activities that they are good at to make sure they bolster their self esteem.