We have heard many times about ‘dress for success’, so what about ‘body language for success’?
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals subconsciously. The keyword here is ‘subconsciously’. Have you ever asked yourself why some people have an ‘aura’ that is brighter than others? Have you ever wondered why some people are better at walking into a room, having everyone turn their heads to look at them and have the power to influence others in a heartbeat? The secret to this is ‘body language’. Your body language reflects on the surface what you are feeling on the inside. So, you are basically transmitting to the external world the way you see yourself without even having a conscious awareness of this process. That being said, if you are looking forward to transfer your image, I invite you to read the next lines thoroughly.
“When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Make eye contact. There is a substantial amount of research showing that good eye contact increases feelings of trust. Don't stare, but don't look at your shoes. Making eye contact as you approach lets the person know you want to interact. Men need to extend the eye contact for at least three seconds without blinking or looking away as they shake hands. Women need to be careful of holding eye contact for more than three to five seconds at a time with men they have not met before. Men may perceive extended eye contact as an emotional advance. Begin as soon as you engage someone in a conversation. However, you may wish to start even earlier if you are trying to get someone's attention. Continue it throughout the conversation. Be sure to maintain direct eye contact as you are saying "good-bye." It will help leave a positive, powerful lasting impression.
Another vital component you need to bring to any interpersonal encounter is a firm handshake. Again, those few seconds you "shake" can empower or weaken a relationship. Men's handshakes are typically strong and firm because they naturally have a stronger grip. This does not mean that being a woman means handshaking in a flimsy manner. Ingredients of a Good Handshake are:
Hold the person's hand firmly.
Shake web-to-web, three times maximum.
Maintain constant eye contact.
Radiate a positive aura.
One of the first key things people notice is how you carry and present yourself. Do you pose and stand with confidence? Or do you handle yourself and move in a way that tells others that you would prefer not being noticed? The basics of a confident posture are:
Or do you slouch, perhaps with your shoulders drooping, your head forward and your stomach protruding? Are you saying to people that you are not sure of yourself, are not poised and, therefore, not the one they should seek out and get to know? You may be turning people away without even being aware of it.
Command respect by standing tall and claiming the space to which you are entitled. Plant your feet about six to eight inches apart with one slightly in front of the others.
One of the challenges women face in the business world is high heels. High heels seem like a must in today’s business world. I would not advise a professional woman to walk around in ballerina shoes on a pair of career pants or business suit. This really takes value away from a woman’s overall business ‘feel’. It goes without saying that wearing high heels does not mean that it is alright to walk like a runway model on a catwalk. So, how is this balance established? Start by standing up straight. Pull your shoulders back a tad and reach your chest upwards. Engage the lower abs (your core) as this will be your main alliance when walking in high heels. Engaging your core helps you align your posture correctly and distribute your weight rather evenly throughout your body (so it does not look like you are leaning forward and about to fall off the heels). Another piece of advice would be to choose a reasonable height for your heels. Bear in mind that the higher your heels are, the harder it would be to walk professionally wearing them no matter how much you are used to wearing heels. With our Egyptian traditions in mind, I would not recommend wearing heels any higher than 7 centimeters no matter how petite you are.
The fact that you interact with others in a professional environment does not mean that you need to frown to look professional! You can be a 100% serious while keeping a smile on your face. Believe it or not: You can say the hardest and most difficult statements with a smile on your face and it would REALLY make them sound better! Smiles are an important facial expression. They show interest, excitement, empathy, concern; they create an upbeat, positive environment. Smiles can, however, be overused. Often, men smile when they are pleased; women smile to please. You know which is the most powerful! To gain and increase respect, first establish your presence in a room, then smile. It is far more professional than to enter a room giggling or frowning.
Improving your body language takes practice. It's not easy to change your gestures, movements or posture that you have been carrying since your childhood, but it's not impossible at all. Start from your facial expressions and voice. Make eye contacts when necessary; try not to reveal the negative emotions during business meetings from your face e.g. boredom, anger or tiredness. Record your voice and then listen to it. This practice will give you an idea on how understandable your oral communication is. Avoid making gestures as much as you can, especially if you are meeting some foreigners. Don't make unnecessary movements while talking; it will only distract your audience. You can even control your nervousness by just acting more confident. Ask your friends or family members to comment on your body language and if they are kind enough to point out some shortcomings, try to improve on them.
Senior Staffing Specialist