Let's look at the second half of the equation: image = appearance + behavior as we examine how to polish your demeanor to impact your success.
You need to know how to act when you get to a conference, after-hours, meeting or trade show to make the most effective and efficient use of your time … and to attract those people whom you want to do with business with and add to your network.
The success of any encounter begins the moment someone lays eyes on you. One of the first things they notice about you is your aura, that distinctive atmosphere that surrounds you. You create it, and you are responsible for what it says about you and whom it attracts. Your aura enters with you and starts speaking long before your open your mouth.
Since body language conveys more than half of any message in any face-to-face encounter, how you act is vital to your aura.
One of the first key things people notice is how you carry and present yourself. Do you walk and stand with confidence like your mother taught you?
Or do you slouch, perhaps with your shoulders drooping, your head forward and your stomach protruding? Are you saying to people that you are not sure of yourself, are not poised and, therefore, not the one they should seek out and get to know? You may be turning people away without even being aware of it.
Command respect by standing tall and claiming the space to which you are entitled. Plant your feet about six to eight inches apart with one slightly in front of the others. My workshop attendees always remark about how this positioning makes them feel "grounded," "rooted" and "balanced" … great ways to start any encounter!
You also tell people through your posture if you are want others to approach you. For instance, if you are talking with one other person and the two of you are forming a rectangle, you will give the message that you have "closed off" your space and don't want to be interrupted. If you doubt me, stand by two people who are in the rectangular position and see how long you go unacknowledged. The two will see you out of their peripheral vision, but won't include you until they have finished their "private" conversation.
If, on the other hand, the two of you stand with your feet pointed outward like two sides of an incomplete triangle, you will be inviting others into the conversation. You can make that all-important eye contact.
Another vital component you need to bring to any interpersonal encounter is a firm handshake. Again, those few seconds you "shake" can empower or weaken a relationship. Men's handshakes are typically strong and firm because they naturally have a stronger grip. Women, get a grip and be noticed! I once got a client because the man I shook hands with remarked about my strong handshake and asked what I did. He decided it was time to hire me to teach his people how to shake hands, too!
Being familiar with
the following handshakes will help you immensely in your relationship-building
A person extends his hand to you, web-to-web, and as soon as your
hands are linked, he purposely maneuvers his hand onto the top.
He's telling you he wants to be in charge. Keep that in mind as
the interaction continues.
Use this one only with people you know. When you envelop another
person's hands, you are invading their private space … where you
are to be only when invited. Society promotes the standard handshake
but is not as tolerant of using both hands. By the way, this handshake
is also known as the politician's handshake …, which may be cause
enough for most people to avoid it!
Imagine rubbing a scaly, dead fish in your hands … and you got
the picture. Your hands typically are wet for two reasons: You
are nervous or you have been holding a cold beverage in your right
hand and move it to your left just before you shake hands. In
either case, it is extremely unpleasant for the receiver. If you
experience anxiety, wipe your hands on a napkin, the tablecloth
or even lightly on your clothes. What you spend at the dry cleaners
will be paid for quickly by the better impression you make. As
for the beverage, use common sense.
Limp Fingers. Women, far more than men, extend their fingers rather than their entire hand. It can be painful for the extender, when she is greeted by a man who shakes with his forceful grip. Men tell me this frequently leads to their giving women a lighter handshake. Professional women respond that they want to be treated equally. One of the ways to combat this syndrome is to always extend you full hand (never cup it) horizontally, even if your grip is light.
Ingredients of a Good Handshake
Make it and keep it! Not only does focused eye contact display confidence on your part, it also helps you understand what the other person is really saying verbally.
When the eyes
say one thing, and the tongue another,
Looking someone in the eye as you meet and talk with him/her also shows you are paying attention. Listening is the most important human relations skill, and good eye contact plays a large part in conveying our interest in others.
When to look. Begin as soon as you engage someone in a conversation. However, you may wish to start even earlier if you are trying to get someone's attention. Continue it throughout the conversation. Be sure to maintain direct eye contact as you are saying "good-bye." It will help leave a positive, powerful lasting impression.
Where to look.
Imagine an inverted triangle in your face with the base of it
just above your eyes. The other two sides descend from it and
come to a point between your nose and your lips. That's the suggested
area to "look at" during business conversations. Socially,
the point of the triangle drops to include the chin and neck areas.
When people look you "up and down," it's probably more
than business or a casual social situation they have in mind!
How long to look. I suggest about 80 - 90 percent of the time. Less than that can be interpreted as discomfort, evasiveness, lack of confidence or boredom. When you stare longer, it can be construed as being too direct, dominant or forceful and make the other person uncomfortable. It's okay to glance down occasionally as long as your gaze returns quickly to the other person. Avoid looking over the other person's shoulders as if you were seeking out someone more interesting to talk with.
Smiles are an important facial expression. They show interest, excitement, empathy, concern; they create an upbeat, positive environment. Smiles can, however, be overused. Often, men smile when they are pleased; women smile to please. You know which is the most powerful! To gain and increase respect, first establish your presence in a room, then smile. It is far more professional than to enter a room giggling or "all smiles."
As you review and tweak your body language for your next interpersonal encounter, I suggest you keep in mind another Emerson saying:
are stands over you the while and thunders so
© 2006. Duoforce Enterprises, Inc.
Lillian D. Bjorseth
is known nationally for her infectious enthusiasm and her practical,
insightful and pertinent content that you can apply on the spot
and throughout your life. Lillian's a people-skills speaker, trainer,
consultant and author of Breakthrough Networking: Building
Relationships That Last, 52 Ways to Break the Ice & Target
Your Market and the Nothing Happens Until We Communicate
audiotape and workbook series. A top graduate of the University
of Missouri School of Journalism, she's a member of National Speakers
Association. Her Fortune 100 experience includes more than 10
years at AT&T where she trained top executives in media and
communication skills. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org,
800-941-3788 (outside Chicago area) or 630-983-5308.