Body Language For Dummies
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Want to find out more about how to be the person you’ve always wanted to be? This Cheat Sheet tells you how to act "as if." Explore how to behave without giving the game away. Try a few easy exercises that will strengthen your body.

Acting 'as if' to become who you want to be

You don’t have to be an actor to act “as if.” You just have to act as if you are the person you’d like to be. The more you act as if you are that person, the more you become that person.
Below are a few tips for getting you started on the path of becoming the person you long to be.

  1. Begin by asking yourself: What do people in control do? What behaviors do they demonstrate? What do they say?

    If you can identify the behaviors and replicate them yourself, you can convince anyone who’s watching that you are what you say you are.

  2. If you were acting as if you were the person you would like to be, how would you be acting? If you could see a film of your life, what would be different?

  3. If a good friend were to see you several months from now and you were more like the person you want to be, what would this person see you doing differently?

  4. What might some initial indicators be that would demonstrate that you are headed in the right direction?

  5. If you want to come across as a person in control, the one to turn to when all else fails, the one you can count on to get the job done, you have to act ‘as if’ you were that person.

Once you have the answers to those questions, you’re well on your way to being the person you want to be.

Managing your body language when the stakes are high

An unconscious movement, an inadvertent gesture, or an unwitting facial expression can give your game away faster than a speeding bullet. Below are a few tips for containing and controlling your body’s movements.

  • Breathe with consciousness. Be aware of the air entering and leaving your body. Breathe slowly and deeply, allowing the nurturing oxygen to calm your nervous energy.

  • Drop your shoulders. Gently release your shoulder blades, letting them meet at your spinal cord. Experience the sensation of tension melting downwards, escaping through your feet.

  • Expand your upper body. Feel your ribcage swell in front, around your sides, and into your back. Experience the sensation of being bigger than you are.

  • Hold your head in a neutral position. When you’re standing or sitting, keep your chin horizontal to the floor. Jutting your chin upwards, or letting it sink into your chest sends out signals of aggression and depression, respectively. Holding your head horizontally demonstrates strength, focus and direction.

  • Keep your face still. Vladimir Putin is an expert at maintaining a still face. Inscrutable, impenetrable and impermeable, his stone-like mask conceals what he’s thinking, leaving the rest of us wondering what he’s got in mind. Avoid lip chewing, nostril flaring, and eyeball rolling if you want to demonstrate control.

  • Contain your hand gestures. Flapping hands and fidgeting fingers are signs of stress. Loosely interlock your fingers and let them sit quietly in your lap or on the desk in front of you. You may also find that resting one hand rest on top of the other prevents them from leaking information you’d rather not reveal.

Building a fit, firm, and flexible body for communication

A fit, firm, and flexible body enhances your ability to communicate with confidence and control. Below are a few exercises to help you improve your body’s ability to communicate your thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

  • Before undertaking any form of exercise, lightly stretch your muscles to prevent injury. Gently roll your head and shoulders, slowly twist your torso from side to side, and stretch your limbs out wide. You might want to practice in a private, comfortable place as some of the expressions and movements can look and feel a little awkward.

  • Strengthening your lips. Firm lips are a thing of beauty and have caused many sleepless nights. To build up your mouth muscles, pucker your lips slightly. From this position, bring the corners of your mouth as close together as possible by actively engaging the muscle. Hold your lips in this position for a count of five. Relax and repeat 10 times.

  • Squeezing your buttocks. A tight bottom is attractive. And it feels good, too. To maintain your bottom’s upward lift and inviting appearance, squeeze your glutes tightly for a count of five. Relax and repeat ten times.

  • Stretching your hands. Your hands get a steady workout during the day whether they’re tapping the keyboard, lifting and carrying, or just stroking the dog. To give your fingers a bit of a respite, put them together in the prayer position, finger tips pointing upwards, heels of the palms together. Push your fingertips tightly together, allowing the heels of your palms to separate. Relax and repeat ten times.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Elizabeth Kuhnke founded Kuhnke Communication, a team of experts that specializes in interpersonal communication for both groups and individuals. Elizabeth runs workshops, training courses and coaching programmes, and speaks regularly at business events and international conferences.

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