Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nonverbals: Your Hidden Weapon

Humankind is a bit shallow: We judge too heavily based on looks.

You may not be able to be gorgeous but these few tips can put you ahead of most Pretty People:
  • Smile: Even babies react better to smilers. That's certainly true for adults. Be sure it looks authentic, not the salesman's smile. How do you tell? The smile lines aside your eyes crease.
  • Good posture. When your shoulders are back and level with each other (not hunched or tilted,) your back is straight, and you stride purposefully, you'll get a better reaction. Cosmopolitan founder Helen Gurley Brown said, only half-joking, after 40, it all comes down to posture.
  • The Obama head-tilt. President Obama tilts his chin just slightly upward, especially when making an important or controversial point. That makes him seem more confident and, well, presidential. Try it in a mirror. You'll see what a difference it makes. But don't tilt your chin up too much or you'll look stuck-up.
  • When talking with someone, be close but not too close: in the U.S., unless it's an intimate, 2 1/2 feet is about as close as you want to get. If your conversation partner backs away, respect that.
  • If you're seated in conversation, lean slightly forward--it conveys enthusiasm. Keep your legs and arms uncrossed--that makes you appear open.
  • Establish and maintain eye contact roughly 2/3 of the time--more and you risk looking psychotic. A technique for establishing eye contact is, before starting to talk with someone, note their eye color.
  • Watch others' nonverbals for signs of anxiety or deception. For example, rubbing head, neck or thigh can be self-soothing behaving in response to feeling stressed. Those could be normal behaviors for that person but when a person, in mid-conversation, suddenly exhibits one of those behaviors, take note.
  • The feet are often revealing, because people don't expect you to be noticing their feet. So, for example, if your conversation partner moves a foot toward the exit, s/he may be trying to get away from you.

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