An Introduction to Effective Body Language


We all aspire to be liked and respected by the people we interact with. In fact, there are simple methods we can incorporate into our daily interactions to bolster the effectiveness of our formal and informal communication. This is especially critical for interviews which are a huge component in applications to graduate schools and sometimes even for entrance into post-secondary institutions.

Use Hand-Motions to Bolster Your Main Points

A lot of people consider themselves to be hands-on communicators, whether in formal presentations or in informal settings. Hand-motions can be used at decisive moments for an emphatic effect. Open movements, such as having hands outstretched, help to engage your audience. When communicating, make sure to have your palms facing upwards as it makes you seem more persuasive overall. Hand-motions can become a crucial part of augmenting the effectiveness of any persuasive argument.

Mirror Someone to Improve Likability

In essence, mirroring involves incorporating and adopting the body language and enunciation of the other person. Some of the most crucial behaviors are those that occur unconsciously, such as how someone sits in their chair or the nuance of their gestures.  However, it is important to not overdo this, as it is possible to over-exaggerate a movement so much so that the other person views your attempt to “mirror” as derogatory.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Some words hold more persuasive impact when used in conversation and in conjunction with the appropriate body-language.  Using the word “you” or using someone’s name makes the interaction more personal and also makes the other person more likely to listen and engage with what you say. Some of the most outgoing people (the kind that always seem to be making friends) stand apart from the crowd because they make each interaction personal whether its paired with a high-five, a short hug, or even a tap on the arm. Another key word that should be in your arsenal: because. Giving some sort of explanation to accompany an action can shift the cards in your favor.

Smile for the Camera (and to others)

A simple smile can help with making a great and approachable first impression. Anyone who has worked in retail or customer service knows that a smile can do wonders. In professional interpersonal communication, an initial smile helps to signal cooperation and approachability– which are key and desirable tenets of effective workplace communication.

Remember to Look Down

Though its typically frowned upon to avoid eye-contact, we can actually learn a lot about a person from what they are doing with their legs and feet. Most people eventually train themselves to perfect their facial expressions and hand motions, but often forget about their leg and foot movements. So next time you see someone’s toes curling or legs moving erratically, remember this could signal a number of things about the other person’s perspective on the interaction. Namely, it is a telltale sign of discomfort and nervousness.

References:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFLjudWTuGQ
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk_SMBIW1mg
  3. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247737
  4. https://www.genardmethod.com/blog/body-language-that-will-make-you-more-persuasive-and-likable
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlduzG27hjI

Published by Magda Wojtara

Magda Wojtara is Junior at the LSA Honors College at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on a pre-med track with a major in Neuroscience. In her free time, she write articles, volunteers at a chronic pain outpatient facility with UM Medicine, does research, competes in HOSA, and, of course, enjoys photography and singing. In her spare time she manages her own travel and lifestyle blog: @journeythedestiantion on instagram and journeythedestination.weebly.com

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