your body is a wonderland

Sit up straight, uncross your arms, and stop that fidgeting of your right leg. Appearances do matter, especially for an entrepreneur. Your body language is essential to eff ective communication.

THE P’S AND Q’S OF OFFICE BODY LANGUAGE

The body is a powerful engagement tool. Our physical presence dictates how people perceive us before a single word is uttered. From the way we stand to the way we shake hands, even the most subconscious of our actions can accumulate to send a certain (and sometimes unwanted) signal to those around us. Actions such as slouching, glancing at one’s watch frequently, and crossing your arms can portray you as being disinterested and distant.

Playing with your hair, wringing your hands, and incessant foot-tapping is a clear sign of discomfort, nervousness and restlessness. Pay attention to them; these small details won’t go unnoticed by your co-workers and quite scarily, your clients.

The Test

People read body language often instinctively and without thinking. Work towards controlling and improving them. Ask a close friend to help you analyze your body movements and let you realize your unconscious habits that make you look tense to others. Try recording yourself or looking at the mirror to figure out your problem areas. What are your eyes, hands, and shoulders doing? What message are they sending to the people around you? Prasant Tamrakar, a trainer for the Miss Nepal Pageant and the owner of De Runway Institute, says, “The key to being professional is acting professional. You have to remind yourself every time to sit up straight and nod enthusiastically, even if that is the last thing you want to do at that moment.”

The Hurdle

To be in control of your body, you have to fight its instinctive cues. Remind yourself to be calm and focused, to take a deep breath and to relax. Take time to think before speaking; the last thing a client wants is to hear someone stammer their way through the conversation with too many ‘uhhs’ and ‘errs’. Mark Sears, CEO and Founder of Cloud Factory, considers hand movements to be a critical and often ignored part of our nonverbal language. “Instead of playing with the hem of your shirt, keep your hands busy by using strong and still gestures to enforce your ideas,” he says. Using hand gestures actually relaxes you and sends signals to the Broca’s area in your brain to slow down.

The Pretense (And The Solution)

You know what they say in business: fake it till you make it. If you’re too nervous to make eye contact with someone, then fixate your gaze just above their eye-level to give off an impression of making proper eye contact. If you’re too self conscious to make any grand motions, then mirroring the other person’s behavior is usually a good idea. Angle your body towards them, match your energy level to complement theirs, and repeat their actions and body movements; anything to build a good rapport and to show that you’re sincerely interested in the other person. Both you and the other person will feel at ease. However, keep in mind that there is a line between being in agreement and being creepy.

Our motions and postures are great sources of information, they reflect our mood and confidence level. By being aware of your actions and constantly working on them, you can slowly learn to be in control of your body language. Just pay attention. With practice, your body language will improve quickly. Even though you most probably don’t feel like it, remember that you are in control of your body. And if worse comes to worse, just smile and nod your way through the conversation.

Scientists say that first impressions generally comprise 55% your appearance and body language, 38% the tone of voice in which you say something, and 7% what you actually say. Brain research shows that whatever we’re feeling first shows up in our body, and only later (nanoseconds later) in our conscious minds. By the time the conscious mind recognizes that anger, or that joy, it has already shown up in our bodies.

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