Frequently, in business, we are presented with opportunities. Whether they are opportunities to gain a new client, meet a mentor, or speak in front of a group of people, we must learn to put our best foot forward. The first 30 seconds in any interaction is crucial. We must learn to make people feel comfortable, and in doing so, we will gain their trust.
Recently, I spoke with Mark Bowden, the Co-Founder of TruthPlane and the author of, Truth & Lies What People Are Really Thinking. He is an expert in body language, nonverbal communication, and human behavior. In our interview, he offered one great tip for how we can all use our body language to our advantage.
He introduced me to a new idea – the open body concept.
He explained it in this way. Imagine you were outside on a really cold winter’s day and you come inside to a room where there is a warm fire. You would naturally stand in front of that fire with your palms out and chest out, trying to welcome the warmth into your being. This is called an “open body language” position.
Now, picture yourself if you came inside from the cold and there was no fire burning in the fireplace. You would most likely tighten your body and curl up trying to protect yourself from the cold. This is called a “closed body” position.
First impressions are crucial and we all know how we are when we form an opinion about someone. Most of our opinions are snap judgements and they rarely change.
Oftentimes, when we are in new settings and around new people, we tense up because most of us are nervous, and even a little stressed. We then naturally close our body and by doing this we may appear to be disinterested, unapproachable or even indifferent. We have all been in situations like this and recognize how uncomfortable we feel. (Think of your first school dance).
So let’s look at some open body techniques that we can use.
- Keep your head up
- Smile – this is our quickest and best fix when we get nervous
- Make eye contact
- Listen intently
- Add the eyebrow flash – It triggers this universal signal for “I recognize you, I know you
- Relax your body by breathing deeply
- Hold your arms in a relaxed manner
Next time you are meeting new people or just meeting your neighbors or friends, try and consciously open up your body language. Listen intently – Practice being more open.
Watch the results. You will be amazed. People will warm up to you. They will trust you and unconsciously they will want to be around you.
Mark Bowden believes that if we don’t make these conscious choices in the way we interact with people we will miss out on opportunities in our life.
Use body language to your advantage and not a disadvantage. Be the person in the room people want to approach and speak to. New opportunities will surely follow.