Women, Is Your Body Telling Tales on You?

Effective Communication for Women

Your words may be saying one thing but your body may be giving out a completely different message! Most of us are very fluent in reading body language even if we don’t realise it. You probably don’t need telling in words that the girl in the picture is feeling sad or fed up. We’re actually quite good at reading emotions. But beware, that means we can be hoist by our petard; where emotions are concerned words are not always as helpful as we may think.

The actual words that someone uses (where emotions or feelings are involved, not simply reading the shipping forecast!) only account for about 7% of the message we receive with over the half the message being a visual one (that’s one reason why e-mails can be so disastrous at times; we only get a part of the writer’s intended message). Your body language must be congruent with what you’re saying, which means you must be confidant about what you’re saying.

Women, Stand Up for Yourself

Have you noticed how we tend to pay more attention to the person who is standing? People who are standing usually look more powerful than those sitting (this fact has particular resonance for anyone with a disability). It’s because they are taking up more space. Women tend to be (not always) smaller than men. If we want attention standing up is one way of getting it. (So is wearing a skimpy dress but I strongly advise against that-wrong attention, wrong signals!! )

We often assume, when we see someone standing amongst a group of people sitting, that they are of higher status. It can also make them look busier and important, as if they have many more demands on their time. Far too busy to sit down and chat!

Sprawl and Be Noticed

If you are sitting it is still possible to look powerful by taking up as much space as you can. Stretch out your legs as far as you can, have your arms out over your chair, and keep your body movements open and expansive. Don’t choose the seat farthest away from the action, get in there and claim your space.

When you are on the phone and want to feel more powerful and in control, just try standing up. It will help you sound more assertive and project a sense of urgency.

Read Your Client

If your client or employee starts using a lot of hand-to-face movements such as scratching their chin, holding their face etc, it most likely means that they are thinking of making a purchase or about to decide something but that something is holding them back; they have a concern about something. Women are generally good at empathy so ask them.

If customers or clients or employees are unsure about something they often don’t ask for clarification but just leave. Reading their body language correctly could help you give them the information they need to feel comfortable enough to proceed with a purchase, hire you, or help you manage better.

Nodding Off

In the Western world when we’re listening a lot of us move our heads or nod, women in particular do this to show that they understand. However, it can look as though we are seeking approval from the speaker and be interpreted as a weakness. If you want to look powerful try and keep your head movements to a minimum. Just try it as an experiment for one week.

Mirror, Mirror!

We are all attracted to those people who we see as being similar to ourselves. It can create a sense of harmony or belonging if two people are adopting similar poses. Just look at people who are in agreement; they will often be sitting in a similar fashion, mirroring each other’s body movements. Sometimes people consciously ape the movements of others in order to create this sense of harmony but be careful, it’s easy to make yourself look ridiculous and simply succeed in irritating the other person!

Stop Fiddling

And finally, just try and be aware of what gestures and body language you adopt when you are not feeling confident. Do you start to chew your fingernails, or fiddle with your hair? Or maybe you revert to grooming yourself, like fiddling with your socks or brushing down your suit?

We tend to do this when we are uncomfortable or with someone we are unsure of. We start grooming to make ourselves more presentable or we use the displacement type activities like hair fiddling. All dead give aways of our lack of confidence!

Watch and Learn

You may be surprised by how much you know about body language. The next time you find yourself with a few minutes to spare just sit and quietly observe the behaviour of people around you. You will be able to tell a lot from simply watching their body language! But be careful how you are sitting – they may be also watching you!

Thinking of expanding your training business? I can help you. To find out more, click here

Suggestions for Further reading from Amazon
Body Language by Carolyn Boyes

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Posted on January 23rd, 2009 by

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