We’re all looking for an edge.  Maybe your competition is tougher than ever.  Maybe you’re facing an audience that you know going in will be a tough sell.  Maybe your clients have been demanding more for less ever since 2008 and you’re running out of wiggle room.  So think about the next meeting, or presentation, or negotiation you’re going to have.  Here are three body language secrets that you can put to work right away, to give you an edge and make things go just a little bit better.

1.  How You Stand Is How You Feel.

If you want to project confidence and authority, you have to stand confidently.  Funny thing is, if you stand confidently, your body language will send signals to your brain that things are going well.  Your hormone levels will move in the right directions and you’ll feel better.  So hold your head high, throw your shoulders back, suck in your stomach, rotate your pelvis back, stand on the balls of your feet, and smile.  Do this five minutes before the important meeting, in the rest room or the privacy of your office if you have one.  You’ll be glad you did.

2.  Lean In to Close the Deal. 

We tend to back away from people instinctively when we ask them something hard.  That’s precisely the wrong way to move.  We sense distances between ourselves and others very precisely.  Even if you move your head back a quarter of an inch the other party will notice unconsciously and feel less connected to you.  So when you need to make the big ask, close the deal, or raise the stakes, you must move closer to the other people involved.

But don’t get too close.  Personal space is good – in Western cultures, that’s between 4 feet and a foot and a half – but intimate space (a foot and a half to zero) is too close unless you’re in love.

3.  Keep Your Eyes Wide Open. 

Do I need to tell you that good listening is the best way to connect powerfully with others?  If you keep your eyes wide open, you’ll look like you’re listening.  But you’ll actually listen better and more fully, because once again your body will tell your mind what’s going on – even if you know the trick.  So keep your eyes open and on the other people.  We tend to squint when we’re thinking, or suspicious, or just near-sighted.  But when we do, other people unconsciously interpret it as a lack of interest or a lack of agreement.  Don’t do it.

Put these three quick tips to work today to increase your persuasiveness with others.  And stay tuned for my book with lots more tips coming from Harvard in May 2014:  Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact. 



    1. Hi, Darrel —

      Thanks for your comment. I agree — I’m a big fan of Toastmasters for beginning speakers, nervous speakers, anyone who wants more practice in a supportive atmosphere. Great institution.

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