Gestures has identified that the ideal place to

GesturesKeynote speaker and communications expert Mark Bowdenhas identified that the ideal place to hold your hands and to express yourselfwith honesty, when you’re standing, is the over the middle of your abdomen,above your naval. If you keep your hands in front of that area you will appear trustworthy.Also, it means you can keep your elbows close to the side of the body and your handscan gesture in front of you. You can join your hands together in that positionor just put fingertips from one hand against the other to express yourself.1Many politicians now use this position to appear intelligent, however, if inthis position too long it looks like you have BBS (Belly Button Insecurity).

Itcan also create a block in front of you, so use it carefully. If you use a lot of hand movements, here are somepoints to consider: ·        Move both handsin the same pattern; then you will look more trustworthy than when each handdoes something different. ·        If your handsare too high and obscure your face it could seem that you are hiding somethingor not being honest. ·        Reaching yourhands out too far from your body could be a signal that you’re gettingdesperate to make your case or close the sale. ·        Some peoplewill see you as too demonstrative and perhaps over aggressive if you always ‘talk’with your hands, so be conscious of how you come across to those around you.

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·        Be aware that ifyou keep moving your hands too much they could distract listeners from theconversation. ·        Whenaddressing a roomful of people, confident gestures are more appropriate than movementsthat are small and close to the body. ·        The larger thestage, the larger the hand movements; the larger the audience, the larger thehand movements.  People watch your hands so be aware of what you aredoing with them. ·        Holding your handsor fingers in front or to one side of the mouth can mean that you are holding somethingback, such as a thought or an opinion. ·        Stroking thechin with your fingers can indicate that you are making a decision. ·        Holding the thumb under the chin with theindex finger pointing up the side of the face signals a critical judgement or negativeopinion.

·        Placing theindex figure or the hand up the side of the face can show that you are holding yourhead because you are tired, or be read as a sign that you are thinking but possiblynegative thoughts. ·        If you bringthe hand around to under the chin, or place your finger on the chin you appearto be thinking positive thoughts. ·        Covering yourmouth with your hand can indicate that you want to keep words in that mayoffend, shock or cause concern. Or that you have said something you shouldn’t,such as something told to you in confidence.

 Posture Since the earliest times, humans have beenprogrammed to read body language. You had to determine quickly and from adistance if it was a friend of foe heading towards you. Your life depended onreading the mood of the other person, and what you would read first, as theycame over the horizon, was their posture. If you are about to step into a meeting and youdon’t feel confident, then stand up straight, head up and shoulders back,breathe, and smile. You will look taller and more self-assured. People willtreat you as if you are confident, and your attitude towards yourself willchange. Correcting your posture can make that major shift within a couple ofseconds.

Bad posture signals to others that you might lack confidence,have poor self-esteem or low energy levels. Slouching shows you are not happy,or that you either don’t care or aren’t aware of what others think about you; itcan bring down the spirit of your team members. Be really aware of your body language; aware of howit can affect you and others; and what messages it is sending without you realising.Think about the way someone else’s posture and gestures can make you feel. Inparticular, how you carry your shoulders and back can immediately change one’sperception of you; can change the way you feel; and can change the mood of theroom and what others around you feel. If you walk into an office and see someone withtheir shoulders slumped, they don’t look up when you say hello, and the energyaround them is low, then straightaway the message coming from their posturedrags you down too. You start to feel like there’s a ball and chain that you’llhave to drag around for the day. Alternatively, if you walk in and someonelooks up and smiles, makes eye contact and their posture is straight, you feelready to go with them to get the work done.

Gestures can make us feel light orheavy. You have the power to choose and to change the way you feel and the waypeople around you feel, without saying a word. They say you can’t teach attitude, which is true,but you can adjust the way you show your attitude. Be mindful of what your bodyshows about your attitude.  Try this When you are sitting at your desk or walking aroundthe office, take a second to check your posture. ·        Areyou slouching? ·        Areyour shoulders hunched or up around your ears? ·        Armsand legs crossed? ·        Chindown?  How does thatmake you feel? How do you think it makes others feel when they look at you? Do a quick shift – shoulders back, neck straight,head up and back straight.

Now how do you feel? How do you think others willrespond to you? Stay this way and see if your mood becomes more positive and ifyou have more energy, and if you feel certain and confident.  Your Voice Your voice, as well as your body language, projectsyour attitude and mood. When talking to clients, the tone of your voice shouldsound like, ‘I’m here to help you as best I can.

‘ The voice conveys meaning even when the words arenot understood. For example, if you were to growl at a dog it would stop whatit was doing, while if you said, ‘Good boy,’ in a friendly, happy tone it wouldwag its tail. The same applies when you speak to people – we can oftenunderstand a level of the meaning of your words by the way you say them. You can change the listener’s mood with the tone ofyour voice. If someone is angry and you respond by speaking loudly and sound annoyed,impatient or condescending, the other person is likely to become even angrier andnothing will be resolved.

Instead, speak with a firm but calm, perhaps caringand soothing tone. Never let your voice sound dismissive or as if you aretalking down to someone; instead build mutual respect. This way your communicationswill be more relaxed, more pleasant and better understood. Listen to how loudly or softly you are speaking,and the levels at which others around you are speaking. Are you speaking at theappropriate level? If not, make an immediate adjustment. The speed and rhythm of your speech are important. Ifthe other person is speaking more quickly or more slowly than you, decidewhether it’s appropriate to match their pace. Are you speaking so slowly thatthey are losing patience or so fast that they can’t understand you? Keep inmind that people can feel pressured when someone speaks faster than they do.

You can match another person’s speech rate and the volumeof their voice, but never attempt to imitate their voice or try to match theiraccent. This can happen subconsciously, but the moment you notice you’re doingit, stop. It’s nearly always insulting. Qualities of a good voice: ·        Awake andinterested ·        A smile inyour voice ·        Easy to hearwith moderate tone and rate ·        Varied,well-modulated tone.  Your personal space Body language goes hand in hand with your personalspace. Just as you need to be conscious of your gestures, you should also beaware of your personal space and the space around others.

You can consciouslyor subconsciously send messages by the space you leave between yourself and theother person. If you stand up straight, for instance, you will feel taller,broader and as though you are taking up more space in a positive way. As a guide, one’s personal space can be up to halfa metre around their body. Step into that area and the other person might feelthat you are invading their space.

When you are standing up having a conversation, thespace between you and the other person can be around 1 metre, and that feelscomfortable. Moving in any closer can start to feel awkward. Everything beyondthat is public space. This guide can vary according to the culture andcountry in which you are working. Personally, I hate anyone invading my space,especially if they are leaning or standing over me. Their energy is ‘in myface’ and it just doesn’t feel good. The only time it works is when you’re in aromantic relationship, perhaps in the flirty stage where you want to lean inand touch. Otherwise it is a power move that can make the other person feeluncomfortable and anxious.

If I am talking to someone who is sitting down – attheir computer, perhaps – I will pull up a chair and sit beside them so we areon the same level, literally, and we can focus on the task together without anyonefeeling uncomfortable or subordinate. If I needed to work on the other person’scomputer, I would ask first if that was okay, then we would swap chairs so Icould sit at the terminal rather than leaning across. Standing or sitting closer than half a metre from acolleague, and treating their possessions and office space as if they were yourown, signals disrespect and that you don’t have a clear understanding of professionalboundaries.

Leaving too much space between you and the otherperson, or angling your body away from them and not leaning into a conversationcan be a sign that you are uncomfortable, distrustful or disinterested in theconversation or the meeting. Angling away can be read as ‘I don’t want to beinvolved.’ If you are sitting at a table and someone is angling away from you, pickup a page of notes or a brochure and a pen and point out something to them sothey have to lean towards the table and back into the discussion. Once you getthem engaged again and they are leaning back in, then you can continue themeeting.

If someone does move away you quickly need to workout why – have you baffled or bored them, or don’t they trust you? Do you smellbad or are you wearing too much perfume? Have you just had a coffee orcigarette? It’s important to stay fresh and subtly smell nice. Body odour orbad breath can be a big deterrent and clients and staff will not want to spendtime with you. The other person’s body language can tell you a lot about thembut it can also send out some messages about yourself. Be conscious of thesemessages, decide what they mean and act on them to keep the other personfeeling comfortable and engaged. 1MarkBowden, Winning Body Language, McGrawHill, USA, 2010


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