Excuse me, do you speak body language? Of course you do! Maybe you’re not aware of what you just said. That’s what we’re about to change.
The effective use of body language plays a key role in communication.
All jokes aside, if you apply this information you will be able to understand how people are feeling when you’re around them. Do you realize what this means?
This means we have more control of our outcomes than we think.
I first got into learning about body language and non-verbal communication years ago when I started studying seduction. I was reading books like The Art of Seduction, As You Are, What Every Body Is Saying, and The Definitive Guide to Body Language.
Social dynamics have always been fascinating to me. It’s crazy that even the slightest tweaks in your body language can change the whole dynamic of an interaction.
If you’re not aware of your own or other people’s body language, then it is my mission to bring that awareness into your interactions. The cool thing about body language is it’s a skill that anyone can start applying immediately, all it takes is awareness.
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. – Peter F. Drucker
There are two (2) things you can do with this knowledge:
- You can read and understand people better.
- You can create confidence, display dominance, and become more comfortable.
Where can you apply this knowledge?
- The Business World – negotiations, meetings, leadership, and management.
- The Social World – making friends, influencing people, and attracting men/women.
- The Athletic World – performing your best in competition and under pressure.
More than 50% of communication is non-verbal. The actual percentage varies depending on the context. For example, way more is communicated in dating than in business meetings.
“Non-verbals” are anything that communicates without using words.
Humans are a visual species. We are primates that evolved evolutionary to exhibit certain behaviors visually. We know this from studying children who were born blind – they exhibit the same behaviors without ever seeing them.
A Quick Lesson on Standing & General Posture
Before I get into the details of body language and non-verbals, I just want to share what I learned about how to stand and hold your general posture.
It’s not only confident position but it’s extremely healthy. When I started to correct my posture, I felt more energy and all my lifts got stronger in the gym.
The Rule of Thumb:
This will be a little uncomfortable at first. Stand straight up and down. Pull your shoulder blades back to naturally open up your chest.
If you want to know if you’re doing this right, grab two pens and hold one in each hand. If you raise both arms in front of you and the pens intersect paths at the top, your shoulders don’t have the correct alignment.
In order to fix this rotate your shoulders outward. Now, if you raise both your arms and the pens move outward away from each other, then you have correct posture.
We are constantly evaluating each other non-verbally. We have to access people based on their behavior alone because we can’t just ask for example “Are you trustworthy?” We observe so we know how to interpret and approach situations. This is all hard wired into our brains through millions of years of evolution, it’s a survival mechanism.
Here’s what we assess about someone non-verbally:
Accessibility, Competence, compliance, danger, desires, emotion, empathy, insecurities, intentions, manners, performance, personality, quality, responsiveness, skill, social hierarchy, and thoughts.
Our brains reflect through our bodies: thoughts, emotions, desires and intentions – we do this in real-time as things are happening, subconsciously.
Tips for detecting discomfort in people:
A. Understand Pacifying – We have to relieve stress anytime something stressful happens. Any repetitive behavior is done for self-soothing. Any chewing, including biting the lip, is a pacifying behavior.
B. Eyes – Any blocking or touching the eyes reveals a negative emotion.
C. Nose – Noses are extremely accurate in revealing negative sentiments. Rubbing or itching the nose frequently is an example.
D. Mouth – Anytime lips compress or disappear, there is a negative emotion. Lips pursing means a person disagrees or doesn’t like something.
E. Neck – We cover our sternum when something is stressful. When we feel insecurity, fear or doubt. Anytime someone touches their neck when they talk, they have an issue.
With this being said, remember when you are reading body language and assessing non-verbals, look at the whole human body and not just the face.
You have to look at the full story their body is telling, not just the isolated gestures.
The feet are actually the most honest part of the body. Your face is conditioned to behave a certain way, but your feet are not.
Pay attention to feet because they will really tell you how someone feels about you. If their feet are oriented away when you approach, they want you to stay away. If their feet reorient toward you, they are welcoming you in. They may direct their face at you, but they won’t orient their feet if they don’t want you around.
Be careful because all communication is reflexive. If you are suspicious, uptight or agitated, the people you are communicating with will become suspicious, uptight or agitated. The same goes vice versa. If you communicate confidence, comfort, and good emotion; the people you are communicating with feel the same.
Creating Confidence From Body Language
Let me tell you a story. One of my co-workers is one of the most confident guys I’ve ever met. He has conviction in everything he says and does. When he speaks, people listen. When he walks into the room, you know it.
People want to do what he says, because they don’t want to see him disappointed. His confidence is fun to be around and people really enjoy working with him.
How do you think he controls his body? You will never see him with his hands in his pockets. You will never see him with his arms crossed. You will never see him make fast twitchy nervous movements.
He moves slow and purposefully. When he speaks he makes wide gestures with lots of range. When he walks, his shoulders are pulled back looking straight ahead. When he sits, he spreads out and takes up space. He smiles and is always trying to make other people laugh. Do you see the correlation?
Confident people have confident body language because confident body language creates confident people.
When we look at Alpha Males – they exhibit confident behavior. This is the silverback Gorilla in the group. Behavioral scientists will call it dominant behavior.
Here’s the thing that’s fascinating about Dominant Behavior:
SCIENCE shows that: Dominant, confident men exhibit dominant, confident, behavior.
But more importantly: Dominant, confident behavior creates dominant confident men.
What this means is: When you take on dominant, confident gestures this actually causes confidence hormones to flood your system, thereby making you more confident.
I put together a list of my favorite postures and positions that you can practice in social settings, business settings, and everywhere else.
You can also use these posture positions as exercises to change your state of mind and flood your brain with confidence hormones. Hold these positions for 30-60 seconds and you will feel a difference, I promise you.
I often consciously run through a few of these positions before I’m about to go into high pressure situations where I need to perform my best.
Powerful Body Postures/Gestures
The Steeple & The Basketball Steeple
You will see many of the most powerful influencers in the world (Ex: President Obama) using these gestures during their presentations and debates. Why? Because it communicates dominance, confidence, power, and control.
Try these when you want to emphasize a memorable conversation point.
The Victory Pose
The Victory Pose prepares you for greatness and abundance. Practice it every single day.
This gesture communicates openness, vulnerability, and straight up confidence. You’re exposing your entire body which communicates comfort and non-threat. This is a great pose to hold for 30 seconds that will immediately change your state, especially in public.
BAD: Crossing Arms & Hands in Pockets
Avoid crossing your arms and burying your hands in your pockets. When people are talking to you it’s a position that isn’t very receptive.
Behavioral scientist actually say that crossing your arms is equivalent to a self-hug. Subconsciously you are communicating you want attention. Always make an effort to keep your hands and thumbs exposed.
Taking Up Space
Confident people take up A LOT of space. They own their space and don’t shrink themselves to fit in. They are noticeable, they take up space, they stand out, they speak loud and clear.
This posture shows comfort, and because all communication is reflexive. If you are comfortable then the people you are around will settle in and feel comfortable.
Do not under estimate the power of a genuine smile. Positive emotions produce a genuine smile and a genuine smile produces positive emotions.
Smiling is positive. People are drawn to positivity and shows that you are again comfortable and things are going your way. You can get away with a lot more by just smiling.
“Big Heart, Big Smile.” – Kyle Nitchen
Very confident pose. Exposing your body, showing that you are alert, proactive, listening, and on top of it.
Hooding is when you lean back and cross your hands behind your head. Whether you’re talking on the phone, talking to someone, relaxing, socializing, or all of the above.
You will communicate and feel relaxed, comfortable, and in control.
Fingers Spread on Table
Communicates power, control, and shows dominance over the environment. You are proactive and not reactive. It doesn’t matter what you say, putting yourself in this position as you speak will add an extra layer of conviction and certainty to your message.
Call to Action (Exercise)
I have an exercise for you to take action on so you can nail this. I call this the “Doorway Drill” and I learned it from Jordan Harbinger from The Art of Charm.
Like anything, becoming a Jedi Knight requires constant exercise.
The doorway is the reminder that you have to practice.
Every time you walk through a doorway, think of it as your mentor, your coach. Do these things:
a) Straighten yourself up. This is important. I tend to slouch. I probably add an inch to my height now when I walk through a doorway.
b) Smile. Even when you fake-smile, it lowers stress and anxiety. I need this. It’s better than a drug.
c) Head up, Chin up, Open Body Language. I don’t know. Just try it. It works.
I think if you fake “c”, then it won’t work. I imagine situations where I DESERVE to have my chin up and head up and then I really feel it. That’s the practice.
One thing I know: What’s inside your body and mind, creates the world outside your body and mind.
We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training. – Archilochus
Body Language Conclusion
As you can see there is an underlying theme in confident body language. In all these positions your body is exposed and your guard is down. All of these gestures communicate comfort and control.
Throughout our ancestral history, the way we communicated confidence was by showing comfort. The alpha males in the tribe were usually the best hunters and protectors. Their bodies took up a lot of space and naturally were more comfortable in every situation as a result. Their bodies reflected their success.
What was their reward? The resources, the women, the social status, and respect all gravitated towards the tribal leaders. The same can happen to you.
Not much has changed since the tribal days biologically, our brains are almost identical. So anytime you get to communicate these powerful emotions, do it.
You now have a new bio-hack you can use to hack your confidence and get a better understanding of how to read people.
This information won’t be 100% accurate in every single situation. However, the science behind this is very well researched and strong enough to apply to your life. Check out video resource below to learn about the research behind this science, it will blow your mind.
Video Resource: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are | Amy Cuddy | TED Talks
Now go out there and lead by example.
Comments, Questions or Suggestions…
I’d love to hear about your successes and how this information changed your life. Leave a comment below, ask a question or let me know what you think…looking forward to hearing from you!
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Photo Credit: @stallonsilver