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Effective Professional Body Language

The risk of being seen as an amateur in your profession can easily show in simple things, such as soft skills that suggest a poor work ethic and poor nonverbal communication practices. Avoiding these and other risks is key to creating a positive professional experience. Effective, courteous, respectful behavior will produce lasting relationships and professional endeavors that run more smoothly and gain quicker results.

One valuable skill is understanding body language. This give you the ability to quickly and effectively “read between the lines,” interpret the silent signals leaked by others, and position and conduct yourself to make a great impression.

THE EYES

BREAKING EYE CONTACT
IMPACT/PERCEPTION:A broken gaze may signal a lagging conversation or that listening has stopped In intense/intimate conversations we look at one another more often

STARING
IMPACT/PERCEPTION: Negative contact that may be considered rude/a threat A manner in which dominance, superiority or lack of respect is delivered

THE FACE

HEAD NODS
IMPACT/PERCEPTION: Indicators of approval, understanding & agreement Head nods are very important to communication and indicate that you are listening and understanding

THE SMILE IMPACT/PERCEPTION:
A genuine smile affects not only the corners of the mouth, but changes the entire face The fake smile is easy to produce, but will look strained & stiff

BODY POSTURES
Postures can show status; open postures are perceived as more positive & can be more persuasive

“CLOSED” BODY POSTURES
Arms folded, legs crossed, body turned away

IMPACT/PERCEPTION: Feelings of vulnerability, discomfort

“OPEN” BODY POSTURES Legs uncrossed, arms open with palms exposed or relaxed at the body’s side

IMPACT/PERCEPTION: Signs of openness, accessibility, willingness to interact

LEANING

FORWARD LEANING
IMPACT/PERCEPTION: Aligned with positive attitudes and increased verbal output Assists in connecting and creating intimacy in the conversation

BACKWARD LEANING
IMPACT/PERCEPTION: May signal dislike, negativity or dominance

MIRRORING (LIMBIC SYNCHRONY)
Is hardwired in the human brain; we all do it. May occur subconsciously or done with intent to develop relationships Assuming the same body posture to match the other person

IMPACT/PERCEPTION:
A nonverbal way of saying you like/agree. Shows connection and engagement

It’s important to note that people in Western culture judge more from appearance than reality, respond to a firm handshake and need eye contact. Set yourself apart as a polished professional by paying attention to these nonverbal details that create success. The benefits will be many.

Kelly Duggan is an Image Consultant specializing in executive and personal image development, etiquette & communication skills.She is a certified member of the Association of Image Consultants International. Contact Kelly at: www.kellyduggan.com.

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