Walking the talk: the body language secrets you need to know

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“We’ve done quite a bit of testing with people presenting to audiences with a palm-up position, the second audience where they’re talking mainly with the palm down and the third audience where they use a finger point. The palm-up users get up to 40% more retention of what they said and are described by the audience in much more favourable terms than the palm-downers. The finger pointers get the worst results. If you talk with your palms down, you’re seen as authority, management, maybe telling them what to do or telling them off. It’s very powerful when you’re in a situation where you’re delivering bad news such as redundancies.”

Use appropriate facial expressions
When listening to an employee complaint, it’s important to recognise that men and women listen to each other differently and respond accordingly, said Pease.

“If you're listening to a male, limit the expressions on your face. One of the ways women listen is to increase the expressions on the face to show the other person that you're reading the emotions of what they're saying.
“So if someone is telling you what happened, if you're listening, you're likely to be reflecting her emotions on your face to encourage and support her. Men don't do that. If a man listens to a woman with a poker face, she begins to think he's judging her critically. If you're listening to a woman speak and she's upset about something, you want to show compassion. You mirror the expressions on her face. If you're a woman listening to a man, the reverse applies.”

When you nod your head while you're listening, nod it in groups of three, Pease advised.

“When you nod three times, it encourages people to talk more and share more information. If you go more than three times, that means to shut up. If you can get people to talk out issues, they often explain the issue to themselves.”

Have a great handshake
“To create a rapport where people feel accepted, you keep your palm vertical. The origin of the handshake is arm-wrestling back in the Roman era and the guy with the hand on top had the upper hand. Keep your palm straight and exude the same pressure you receive and people will feel like you're accepting them and not trying to dominate or threaten them,” said Pease.
 
 

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