Mae West once famously said, "I speak two languages, Body and English." Turns out, she was onto something. Researchers at Stanford University have found that a person's non-verbal cues can predict their ability to learn and the strength of their creative skills. So whether you're leading a high-stakes pitch or taking in the weekly sitting status report, your body language can make all the difference. Here are five legit tips to help you put off a positive vibe.
1. Stand tall. Be big. According to research from Harvard and Columbia business schools, humans can assume expansive, “high-power” poses that give the appearance of self-confidence and help to manage stress hormones. Just as a king cobra flares its neck to look dominant, you can stand tall with shoulders pulled back, stance slightly widened and your arms or elbows held away from your body. This pose expresses fearlessness. It has also been shown to increase testosterone and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
2. Nod when people talk. Nodding when someone speaks doesn't signal agreement. It signals focus. It lets the speaker know you're engaged and processing their speech. Be careful not to overdo it, though. The nod is best when used sparingly. Nodding throughout an entire conversation can communicate insincerity. Worst case, it come off as a weird, nervous tick.
3. Shake hands firmly — before and after the meeting. This is Body Language 101. A firm — but not crushing — handshake is appropriate when dealing with male or female business colleagues. Use a firmer handshake for men, and a "tight but polite" handshake for women. This gesture not only conveys respect, but commands it.
4. Laugh a little. There's science behind the phrase "laughter is the best medicine." Laughter releases endorphins that improve your mood and enhance your sense of physical wellbeing. Laughter also builds group trust and camaraderie — excellent outcomes when you're dealing with important clients and stakeholders.
5. Lean in. When you're seated in a meeting, it's okay to rest your elbows on the table and lean slightly forward. This indicates interest, engagement, and approval. Keep your hands away from your face, and refrain from crossing your arms in front of you. At a restaurant, the etiquette is a little trickier. You can pull off a lean-in by placing your forearms on the table and interlacing your fingers in front of you. (We could write an entire essay on the "no-elbows-while-eating" rule, but that deserves a blog of its own.)
The secret language of the body can make all the difference in how you communicate. By controlling your posture and gestures, you can improve social bonds, convey positivity, and be more convincing during a presentation. In fact, we're striking a power pose this very minute. Our testosterone levels are so high, we're starting to grow beards on our foreheads. It was cool at first, but now we can't see a thing.
At TBS, we speak your language too. So give us a call. With a few nods, winks, and carefully placed lean-ins, we'll find the perfect financing solution for your needs.