In life, and especially in showbiz, it’s critical you know how to harness the power of your body language. The way you hold your body, use gesture and touch while interacting with others is the first way to put your best foot forward … Yes, I love a pun.
I’ve made a career in TV interviewing people, observing them and gauging their moods as soon as I meet them…and also projecting myself in a certain, confident, way. So, I’ve learned a thing or two about the importance of body language – not just in showing others how I want to be treated, but I’ve also learned that the way I hold my body can influence the way I feel!
Take a TV interview scenario for example: I know that if I walk into a room to meet someone and they’re sitting crossed legged, arms folded…it’s probably not going to go well. Obvs. You know this too. Those people are closed-off, literally. But, if they are leaning back, hands by their sides…or better yet, if they actually STAND UP to greet me, I know things will go well. They’ve shown me their warmth and confidence with their open body language. This all happens in the blink of an eye. I know you’ve all experienced this on some level.
So, if you want to connect with people and project your best, most empowered self, this blog’s for you! Even if you’re not feeling particularly confident in a stressful moment or meeting, you can ‘fake it till you make it’ with these simple steps.
1) SMILE: Like yawning and laughing, smiling is contagious. If you’ve got a really important interview, person to meet or speech to make, it can be easy to forget to smile. You might walk into a room with a super-serious, get-down-to-business look. Smiling will actually make you feel a little happier and it’s the first disarming and confident thing you can project as soon as you walk into a room. It shows people you are warm, trustworthy and confident. A simple smile will help kick-start that connection and make people open to what you have to say. Besides, you didn’t spend all that money bleaching them for nothin’…so, show ‘em those pearly whites!
2) MASTER A GOOD HANDSHAKE: It seems really obvious, but I have shaken a lot of limp, floppy hands. You know the kind – just the tips of the fingers…yuck! How can you really connect with someone who instantly retreats upon first contact? Not to mention the fact I’m making a quick judgment about your lack of self-esteem. Where’s the power in that? Master a good, firm, friendly handshake. Don’t overdo it. That’s also weird. Find your happy handshake medium.
(If you’re worried about your clammy hands, don’t “sweat” it. Your lifeless handshake will be much more noticeable than a great, sweaty one.)
3) REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE: When I’m talking to people I’ll often just reach out and touch their arm. It just happens naturally. I don’t plan it. But, if it doesn’t happen naturally for you, it’s a good idea to try to incorporate it when appropriate. A quick touch on the arm or back lets people feel that I’m connecting to them in that moment. And, I really am! Touch is one of our most powerful communicators – especially in this touch-phobic society of ours. Physical connection (no matter how brief) really stands out. Harness it and you will connect to people faster than you imagined.
4) EYES ARE THE WINDOWS TO THE SOUL: Have you ever talked to someone who doesn’t look you in the eyes very often? It can be very disconcerting! We need more eye contact, people! It seems to be a disappearing form of communication in this world of hyper-tech stimulation. But, without eye contact there is no sincerity and no trust.
5) BE BIG:
So back to the beginning, when I was talking about first impressions; I described the impact of an open body versus a closed one in an interview situation. It’s something you might not have thought about before, but the bigger we look, the more confidence we portray and the more powerful we feel! Sociologists and psychologists have proved it!
Imagine a peacock or an ape beating his chest or a puffer fish blowing up to fend off predators. In the animal kingdom, it is pretty obvious when one wants to assert themselves they get bigger. Turns out, the same is true for us.
On top of looking more confident – holding yourself in this way – can actually make you feel more confident. Check out social psychologist, Amy Cuddy’s awesome Ted Talk on the subject or Power Positions. Through her research, she’s determined that standing in open, dominant “power positions” for even 2 minutes leading up to a stressful meeting or interview can reduce your stress levels and increase your confidence.
Change from the OUTSIDE, IN, girlfriend! Try it!
So, when you’ve got that important meeting, or speech or job interview, look ‘em in the eye with a big smile and a great handshake, sit up tall, spread your arms, uncross your legs if you can and rock on with your bad self!