“When it comes to selling either your personal charms or professional abilities, body language talks loudest of all.”

David Lewis in The Secret Language.

Here’s an idea

Nonverbally increase your status and power by incorporating some nonverbal gymnastics into your office…

  • Have a slim briefcase.
  • Make sure the height of the back of your chair is higher than your visitor’s.
  • Have your chair higher off the floor than your visitor’s.
  • Leave some red folders on the desk marked ‘Strictly Confidential’.
  • Cover a wall with your awards or qualifications.


It’s all in the body language

If you doubt the power of projecting a positive body language, think again. In a study conducted researchers at UCLA, 10,000 people were asked what their initial impressions were of a person they later said ‘Yes’ to. The results were:

  • 7% said the person had good knowledge of the topic, product or service.
  • 38% said the person had good voice quality. They sounded confident and intelligent.
  • 55% said it was the way the person walked. They had an air of confidence and self-assurance rolling off them even as they approached.


Look for cluster signals

Kris Cole, author of ‘Crystal Clear Communication’, says that a cluster of body language signs tells us more than an isolated gesture or movement. Just because someone is drumming their fingers on the table or tapping their foot on the floor doesn’t mean they’re impatient; they could be simply be beating out the latest tune. “Always think about the context in which the body language occurs and observe clusters of signals, not solitary signals,” she warns. So…

Boredom is given away by a combination of crossed legs with a foot swinging, doodling, a blank stare, drumming fingers, taking deep breaths, or putting head in hands.

Frustration could be indicated by short breaths, hands tightly closed, running a hand through hair, rubbing the back of the neck, and wringing hands.

Disagreement might be revealed by crossed arms, accompanied by avoiding eye contact, tapping a foot, and occasionally shaking of the head (while someone whose crossed arms are accompanied by rubbing of upper arms, hunched shoulders, and stomping feet is probably just cold!).


The book

What people say is often very different from what they think or feel – but how do you tell? The answer lies in the study of body language and the guru of this field is Allan Pease. A person’s gestures, he claims, are very accurate indicators of his or her attitudes, thoughts, desires or emotions. In his bestseller ‘Body Language: How to Read Others’ Thoughts by Their Gestures’, which has gone though well over 100 reprints, he outlines techniques that show you how to interpret gestures correctly and thus to ‘read’ the underlying thoughts and emotions. He discusses, for example, how to tell if your opponent is lying, how negative thoughts are expressed and how to overcome them, how to make yourself more credible and likeable, how to control a conversation, interview or negotiation, and so on.


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