“When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man [or woman!] relies on the language of the first.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
According to research, 60 to 90 percent of our communication with other people is nonverbal.
Some research has even shown that in certain situations, approximately 55 percent of communication occurs via body language, 38 percent is tone of voice and only 7 percent is the actual words spoken.
The way you present yourself non-verbally to other people can therefore influence a number of important aspects, such as work and relationships. For example, when you communicate kindness and openness through your non-verbal communication, you might find it easier to make friends. If you can use confident body language at work, you might increase your chances of promotion.
As you may have guessed, learning how to use positive impact body language can result in a number of benefits, including appearing more friendly and confident, becoming more emotionally intelligent and improving your mood.
5 benefits of positive impact body language
It makes you appear more friendly and likable
Positive impact body language helps other people perceive you as friendlier, kinder and more trustworthy. You’ll be able to cultivate relationships easier and appear more likable to the people around you.
You experience a decrease of cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone related to the stress response and it can impede performance and negatively impact your long-term health. According to Travis Bradberry, the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, using positive impact body language can decrease cortisol by up to 25%!
It can communicate assertiveness and self-confidence
When you use positive impact body language, your body can release more testosterone, which is a hormone that improves your confidence and causes other people to see you as more friendly and trustworthy.
Your mood can change for the better
Consciously improving your posture and body language can help you feel happier, friendlier and more confident. Also, when you appear kinder and more open towards other people, they may treat you better – helping to improve your mood even more!
It improves your emotional intelligence
People who use negative body language can influence others to use negative body language, too. It can also interfere with your ability to effectively communicate and develop relationships. When you start practicing positive impact body language, you can improve your emotional intelligence and communicate better with the people around you.
Amy Joy Cuddy is an American social psychologist who studies nonverbal behaviour and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels. In 2012, she delivered a TED.com talk called Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. In this popular talk, she shared why body language can be so important – it affects how others perceive you AND it influences your own feelings of power and confidence.
Cuddy recommends that you practice using body poses which help you feel more confident, such as the Victory Stance. Before you go into situations where you want to appear more assertive and confident, you should hold this post for two minutes.
Here’s how to do it:
-Stand up straight
-Widen your stance
-Hold your shoulders back
-Keep your chin tilted towards the sky
-Raise your arms in a “V” shape
You might be wondering how the Victory Stance helps you feel more confident? As we mentioned earlier, positive body language can help decrease the stress hormone called cortisol in your body and increase testosterone. Powerful and effective leaders tend to have high testosterone and low levels of cortisol, which helps them appear (and feel) more confident and assertive, but also stay calm under pressure.
By using the Victory Stance, you will encourage your body and mind to become more like an effective leader!
Here are 13 more types of positive impact body language you should start practicing and incorporating into your communication ASAP!
1: Use your hands to gesture when you speak. This form of positive body language has three great benefits: it stops you from standing with your arms crossed (a sign of defensiveness), it helps you think better as you talk and it improves your credibility to the listener. However, you should also take care not to gesture too much – wild gestures at a fast pace can be distracting and might communicate nerves.
2: Smile genuinely. Keep your face relaxed and smile when appropriate. This type of positive body language can convey friendliness, kindness and enthusiasm – and it can help improve your mood, too!
3: Maintain eye contact by looking the person in the eye when he or she is talking. However, it’s also important to break eye contact now and then (especially when thinking about your answers during the conversation) so you won’t appear as though you are staring. This can be a bit intense or intimidating for the other person!
4: Slow down your speech and body movements a little – especially if you’re feeling nervous. By taking pauses and allowing short silences to take a breath, you can appear more confident, calm and contemplative.
5: In her book “The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work”, Dr Carol Goman explains a simple body language technique to use when you want to appear charismatic. She explains that charisma is just enthusiasm projected outwards through your body language. If you want to appear more charismatic, think back to a time when you felt very enthusiastic. By connecting with this experience of enthusiasm, you will naturally start to project body language which signifies charisma and confidence.
6: Remove objects or obstacles between you and the person you’re talking to. When you keep barriers in place, it can show resistance and shyness. For example, rather than sitting with a desk between you, go around the desk to speak with the other person, or relocate to a couch (or somewhere else that doesn’t have an obstacle between you).
7: Align your body with the person you’re talking to and lean slightly towards them. This helps to show you’re focused and engaged in the conversation. You may even notice that when you lean forward, the other person will gradually start to learn forward, too – a sign that they are engaged in the conversation and naturally mimicking your movements. Just be careful not to invade their personal space as you lean in. This positive impact body language only needs to be a subtle movement!
8: Use affirmative movements, like nodding your head or smiling. This shows that you agree with the speaker and that you’re listening to what they’re saying.
9: Raise your eyebrows just slightly when you meet someone new. Research has found that when we see someone we recognise and like, we instinctively raise our eyebrows. By using this subtle body language, we can appear friendlier to the new people we meet.
10: Avoid touching your face too much. Many people instinctively assume that a person is being dishonest if they regular touch their face or play with their hair. Try to keep these behaviours in check and replace them with positive impact body language, like using hand gestures as you speak.
11: Mirror the other person’s body language and facial expressions. For example, if they smile, you might also smile. If they gesture with their hands, you might also gesture with your hands. This positive impact body language not only shows that you’re engaged and listening, but it helps build rapport and tends to increase your likeability.
12: Practice your blinking habits when you’re looking in a mirror as you speak. Do you blink rapidly? This can be a sign of nervousness and anxiety. Try to blink slower and avoid rapid blinking to help you appear more confident.
13: Don’t overuse positive impact body language. There can be too much of a good thing! If you deliberately use positive body language all the time, you will start to appear like a people-pleaser or too enthusiastic. Use your natural body language most of the time, enhancing it with positive impact body language when you want to make a good impression, appear confident, or build good rapport with someone.
If all else fails, just keep this acronym in mind – SOFTEN. Communication expert, Don Gabor, initially shared this idea. Here is the acronym broken down:
S – Smile. This will help you appear friendlier and it can be a contagious form of positive impact body language.
O – Open posture. This signifies that you’re open to interaction! Try to keep your arms and legs uncrossed.
F – Forward lean. When you lean forward slightly, you show the other person that you’re interested in what they have to say.
T – Touch. Start a conversation with a solid handshake and use touch sparingly by touching the outside of the arm or elbow to convey friendliness.
E – Eye contact. Maintain approporiate eye contact, with regular breaks to avoid staring.
N – Nod. Nodding is a non-verbal way to show someone that you’re hearing what they’re saying to you and affirming their ideas.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about positive impact body language! If you found this article helpful, please feel free to share it using the icons below.
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Articles written by our internal Daily Guru writers, who are certified & qualified growth & development professionals.