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Friday, August 16, 2013

Body Language in a Business Environment

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Remember when you were a kid and you did something bad? Or if you have kids, what’s the posture parents adopt when they are going to punish their kids? Most parents either put their hands in their waist or they cross their arms trying to look upset. That’s when you as a kid knew something bad was coming.

Body language tells a lot more than what you think. A TED video posted Oct 2012 shows Harvard researcher, Amy Cuddy talking about this; body language shows power, dominance, and strength or it can also show the exact opposite. 

Just like in the wild, where animals tend to expand, grow bigger or adapt positions that make their body seem larger to show their dominance, humans also respond to the same principle. For example, those who win a race extend their arms in a V shape, taking more space. A CEO will sit stretching his arm to the next chair while a staff member might curve, lower his head or shrink unconsciously, like accepting that sub ordinance in the office

According to the University of Illinois Extension Statistics, first impressions generally comprise: 55% your appearance and body language, 38% the tone of voice in which you say something and 7% what you actually say. 

So how does this apply to your business?

When making a negotiation, people want to project a strong image. They want to hide their weaknesses and exaggerate their strengths. 

  • Crossing your arms is OK to call your kids attention, but not to negotiate. It shows you’re bored or anxious. The best way is resting your hands on your lap or in a neutral way. 
  • Avoid crossing legs; it seems you’re closing yourself. The opposite is not suggested either, a very relaxed position may suggest you’ll fall asleep. Make sure you adopt a comfortable yet relaxed position. 
  • Are you a foot tapper or shaky legs person? Try to control it; you don’t want to seem an insecure or anxious person. Leave the dancing for later. 
  • Your eyebrows say much more than what you think. Raise one and you’ll look arrogant, raise both and you’ll look skeptical. Relax your face muscles and focus on the speaker. 

Do you have any additional tips we might have missed? Share your suggestions on body language with us in our comments section, our Facebook page or our Twitter and let us hear your thoughts.

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