By Patricia Stark
I will unlock and share the secrets of body language that can help you look and feel comfortable and confident in stressful, awkward or unfamiliar situations.
Do you bite the inside of your mouth? Do you adjust your glasses, bounce your foot, chew on your nails or rub your neck? Maybe you do but you don’t even know it.
Body Language is a language we all speak even when we are not talking out loud. The messages our body sends out to other people around us are a direct result of the things we are thinking and saying to ourselves internally. When our self-talk is negative, when we have doubts, fears, and worries our bodies will react often before we even realize it.
Wouldn’t you like to be able to control your body language to your advantage? What if you could give off signals to others that you are calm, cool and collected even if you’re not? What if the way you choose to carry yourself and use your gestures and your space could actually make you more confident? This is all possible once you know some of the secrets of body language.
When I work with my public speaking clients I often hear them say “I don’t know what to do with my hands.” When people are self-conscious they suddenly seem to forget how to function in their own bodies.
Here are the top 10 things you can do to consciously control your body language to help you look and actually feel more confident and comfortable:
1. Stand up straight. Your mother had it right. Shoulders back, chin up, straight long and tall back.
2. Sit up straight if seated. Slightly lean forward. Sit more toward the front of your chair.
3. Keep hands and fingers away from your mouth.
4. Keep hands relaxed down by your sides and be sure to use your hands freely when you speak to help you express your thoughts and emotions.
5. Maximize your space. Allow yourself to spread out and use the immediate area around you.
6. Relax in your space. Settle down any unnecessary movement, repetitive habits or leaked excess energy.
7. Stand with your hands on your hips for a few minutes or your hands and arms stretched out up over your head and shoulders if sitting.
8. Gently grab your chin when you are listening to someone speak or when you are in thought.
9. Get yourself together behind closed doors. Avoid making adjustments to your hair, makeup, wardrobe or accessories in front of others.
10. Make great eye contact. Be fully in the moment. Be a great listener. Remember that your facial expressions should express both your understanding of others and match the words and emotions you are communicating with. Smile.
Here are the top 10 Body Language signs to avoid that can make you look nervous, unsure, and uncomfortable:
1. Self Soothing or Self Pacifying Touch. Rubbing the arms as if one is cold. Rubbing ones neck. Self Preening. Rubbing and ringing of the hands.
2. Hiding hands or feet. Shoving hands in pants or coat pockets. Clasping hands behind ones back. Jiggling change or keys in pocket. Sitting on hands. Pulling feet up tight under ones chair.
3. Biting or chewing mouth, nails, cuticles. Chewing on objects like pens, pencils.
4. Pacing while standing, bouncing feet while seated. Rocking side to side in a chair. Backing up or away from people or situations.
5. Clearing throat. Excessive swallowing. Licking lips.
6. Poor posture. Minimizing the space you take up in a chair or while standing. Imploding into your self. Head down. Shoulders rolled forward.
7. Blocking or closed off gestures like arms crossed in front of body. Hands clasped tightly in front of pelvis.
8. Stiff body void of normal gestures. Locked into place afraid to move or adjust normally for comfort.
9. Lack of eye contact. Eyes darting around the room.
10. Strained or blank facial expressions. Absence of a relaxed smile. Facial expressions that do not match the tone and context of the words being used.