My business coach first introduced me to the importance of body language.
He was teaching me about the important nuances of sales for the consulting business I ran many years ago.
A big part of my job was to interface with high-level executives, often the business owners, directly in a face to face meetings. One crucial element of those meetings that we focused on a lot was body language.
Joe explained to me that communication is more than words. Much more. What we say matters a lot, but how we say it as just as important.
A big part of how we say it is through our body language.
It’s also a big part of how we need to listen—by reading the signals in the body language of others.
Our body language helps to show our level of respect and authenticity. Reading their body language helps us to react and adjust to unspoken feedback and concerns.
All of this helps to establish the trust and credibility for not just a successful sale, but for a successful relationship ongoing.
Joe’s advice has served me well. Picking up on the body language cues of others and projecting myself in specific ways through specific body language techniques has helped me tremendously over the years.
But here’s the thing that’s really interesting. Body language can not only help us in communicating with others, it can also help us communicate with ourselves.
The way we carry ourselves sends important signals to our bodies. For instance, we know that confident people carry themselves with open and expansive body language. Science has shown us that the opposite is also true—carrying ourselves with open and expansive body language can help us to become more confident.
If you stand for two minutes like a gymnast at the end of a routine, with your legs spread apart and arms up and open wide above your head, your testosterone level will rise and your cortisol level will fall—the same physiological response to being more confident and less nervous.
I’ve used this exact technique to prepare for important presentations or meetings. It’s a great way to get primed for the event. Certainly much better than our default behavior of hunching over a smartphone in a very closed and confined posture.
Try it out for yourself. At your next meeting, notice who is adopting an open posture, leaning back with arms apart and shoulders squared, and who is more closed, with arms crossed and head tilted down. What are they telling you with those cues?
Notice the positions you are adopting. Notice when you are more open or closed. Experiment with a more open pose when you are speaking or listening and trying to engender trust. Put yourself in a closed position and see how others react.
And before your next big presentation or meeting, ditch the smartphone and take two minutes to purposely adopt a large and open pose to prime yourself for a confident performance.