Cheat Sheet

Body Language For Dummies

If you’re puzzled by other people, or want to change the way other people respond to you, having an insight into body language is key. This Cheat Sheet gives you the absolute essentials.

How to Present Confidence in Your Body Language

To appear confident in your body language, make sure that you remind yourself that you have the right to be where you are. You have no need to apologise to anyone. To convey confidence, be sure to:

  • Square your shoulders.

  • Breathe from your abdomen.

  • Look people in the eye.

  • Contain your gestures.

  • Hold your head high.

  • Open your chest.

  • Let your arms rest by your sides.

  • Enjoy the sense of calm confidence.

Body Language Reading

Reading body language is like reading a story. One word doesn’t tell the whole tale, and neither does one isolated gesture. In order to read body language successfully, consider at least three gestures from the following list:

  • Facial expression

  • Posture

  • Arm position

  • Hand gestures

  • Foot placement

  • Stance

Demonstrating Openness and Confidence with Your Body Language

Your moods, attitudes and feelings impact on your body movements and facial expressions. People who feel good about themselves walk upright, move with purpose and radiate warmth and energy.

If you’re not feeling quite up to scratch, pretend that you are. People demonstrating a positive, open attitude are easier and more engaging to be around than people who show they have the blues.

If you want to be seen as trustworthy, confident and capable, try following some of these movements and expressions:

  • Stand with your legs hip-width apart.

  • Evenly distribute your weight on each leg.

  • Breathe from your abdomen.

  • Allow your chest to open.

  • Hold your head horizontally as if your chin were resting on a ledge.

  • Establish eye contact with another person.

  • Gesture with open palms.

  • Smile with your eyes and mouth.

Effective Communication through Mirroring Gestures

If you want to communicate effectively with another person, you may find yourself mirroring his or her gestures. That means that your gestures become similar to the other person’s, but not so identical that you’re like the other person’s shadow!

By adopting a similar gesture and movement pattern to another person, you can increase the rapport between yourself and someone else. Observe how the person moves. If he or she moves quickly and you move slowly, your patterns are at odds. Speed yourself up a bit or slow down until you’re both comfortable with one another.

After trust has been established, you can go back to your preferred behaviour pattern and watch the other person comfortably follow your lead.

Model Admirable Body Language You've Seen in Others

They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. To be perceived in the way that you’d like, try thinking of someone in a specific context who moves the way that you’d like to. Use these tips to try to model that person's behaviour:

  • Reflect on the person’s gestures and expressions.

  • Consider the message the person portrays.

  • Ask yourself what’s important to you about the message.

  • Think about how you can model that behaviour with authenticity.

How Your Body Language Affects other People's Perceptions of You

The way that you move and gesture plays a huge part in the way you are perceived by others and the impression you leave. Remember these telltale signs when positioning yourself and interpreting the positioning of others:

  • An upright posture demonstrates confidence.

  • Hunched over shoulders indicate insecurity.

  • Arms crossed over the chest sets up a barrier.

  • Precise gestures reflect precise thinking.

  • Open palms indicate an open attitude.

  • Feet point towards where you want to go.

  • Heads nodding means agreement and is a way of keeping the speaker talking.

  • Head tilted shows submissiveness.

  • Index finger to mouth, chin resting on thumb, elbow resting on the other arm crossed in front of the body is an evaluation gesture.

  • Hands on hips show readiness for action.

  • Legs draped over a chair arm demonstrates informality or indifference.

  • Hands held behind the head with elbows pointed outward is a dominance display.

  • Leaning forward with both hands on the knees or gripping the arms of the chair indicates wanting to get up and go.

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