Do you walk the walk as well as talk the talk? If your mouth says one thing and your body argues with you, use the following tips to help you enrich and improve your body language.
1 – Relax
Take a deep breath, roll the neck a few times and shake out any knots or kinks. A relaxed body will communicate a relaxed demeanor, and you’ll be more attentive and responsive to other people.
2 – Open Up
Have you ever spoken to anyone who tells you they’re “fine”, whilst hunched over with their arms folded across their chest? Not terribly convincing, is it? When we’re nervous or upset, there’s a tendency to protect ourselves by closing ourselves off with our gestures.
Open up your body to the world. Keep the head and chin up, keep your arms open, shoulders back and chest expanded. This communicates confidence in your ability to let other people into your world.
A quick way to do this is to widen the mouth and to open the eyes a little wider, almost as if you want to let more of the world in. This is an old actor’s trick. Subtly, though – you don’t want to stare bug eyed whilst grinning maniacally!
3 – Smile
The universal gesture of good feelings. Fake it until it comes naturally.
4 – Run A Mental Script
Before entering any social situation, run a little pep talk in your head that tells you you’re relaxed, confident, assertive, or whatever might be most useful. This will translate itself into subtle physical signals.
5 – Mirror and Match
People who are in close rapport unconsciously mimic each other’s gestures. You can develop rapport by consciously taking over this process. Subtly (and subtlety really is important here!) match your partner’s gestures. If they cross their arms, cross yours a few moments later. You can also mirror the type of gesture, so that you cross your legs if they cross their arms.