It’s True – Actions Speak Louder Than Words!

bigstockphoto_Businessteam_At_A_Meeting_878809How your body tells the world what you’re really thinking.

When I was starting out in my career, I used to rush through the halls with my head down and stayed completely focused on my tasks.  When someone would stop at my office door, I would respond with a quick glance over my shoulder, or without moving my eyes from my computer.  I thought I was being efficient; I thought I was demonstrating that I was a focused hard worker…I was wrong on both accounts.

Much to my surprise, my colleagues provided feedback that I was unapproachable and standoffish.  I was shocked!  I thought I was just staying focused and providing a positive example.  Those close to me knew I was nice and a team player.  But my non-verbal communications were telling most of my peers that they were unimportant, which was the last thing I wanted to communicate.  Since then, I’ve changed my body language to be more open and inviting.  And you know what? I am much more productive.

After I made some changes, my office relationships got much stronger, I felt closer to the team and I received several promotions.  What I’ve learned is that over 80% of what we communicate is done through our body language.  So when our verbal and non-verbal messages are in conflict, it throws our audience off and they will always believe our body language over our words.

What does this mean for you?  It means you could be self-sabotaging yourself without even knowing it, just as I was.  Not to worry, it’s happened to the best of us.  All it takes is a little body-awareness to get your body language in-sync with your verbal communications.  Here are some illustrations to show the difference between good and bad non-verbal communications.

Which person would you want to work with?

iStock.woman virtual.small Stressed man

I hope you said the smiling lady. The man’s body language is communicating that he’s stressed out and unapproachable, whereas the woman is smiling and approachable.  When we’re at our desks, it’s import to keep good posture, relax our jaw and smile.  Smiling relieves stress and helps you think more clearly.  This will make you feel better and you’ll be more inviting to co-workers and leadership.

Who would you rather talk with?

Boring Phone Conversation iStock_000007701331XSmall

The man who is smiling on the phone appears to be more open and easier to work with.  Believe it or not, people can feel your body language over the phone.

Now that you’ve got the swing of this, here are some tried and true tips for showing good body language.

  1. Smile – Smiling is contagious.  When you smile, it makes others feel at ease and you’ll seem much more approachable.  Plus, it makes others smile back and creates better rapport.
  2. Make Eye Contact/Keep Your Eyes Level – Looking up or down communicates that you don’t want to talk with others.  It makes you appear standoffish.  Making eye contact communicates that you’re open and inviting.
  3. Stand Straight – When you stand up strait with your shoulders back and your head held high, you are telling the world that you are a confident individual – and this is one of the main components of executive presence.  Slouching communicates insecurity and a host of other messages that you DON’T want to be sending.

Great body language and facial expressions is the key ingredient to having Executive Presence and may be the difference between getting the job, winning a client or securing a high-level promotion.

To get more tips for using your body to effectively communicate, download our “10 Essential Body Language Tips” – following these guidelines will help you communicate that you’re poised and confident. Click here for a free download.

If you are serious about wanting to up your game and communicate more powerfully, we invite you to attend Powerful Presence, our 3-Day Intensive Workshop where you will join other high-level executives, business owners and professionals to learn how to leverage your personal talents in order to create an amazing and Powerful Executive Presence.

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Five More Reasons to Smile…Starting with You’ll Be More Attractive

iStock_000017948519Medium By JoAnne Foist 

I hope you’re smiling now!  In the last post, we talked about the benefits of smiling.  Incase you weren’t convinced, here are five more reasons to smile:

  1. Smiling Increases Your Attractiveness and Appeal – A study conducted at the University of Aberdeen found that “for judgments of faces with direct gaze, attractiveness preferences were stronger for smiling faces than for faces with neutral expressions.”  The study concluded that people identify individuals most likely “to reciprocate one’s own social interest” as being the most attractive.  So when you smile and look other’s in the eye, you are seen as more appealing.
  2. Smiling Builds Relationships and Trust – When you genuinely smile, you are perceived as being more altruistic and thus communicate a sincere interest in the other person.  Genuinely smiling can even create trust between strangers. Which means that smiling can have a positive impact on your interactions such as working with teams, interviewing, leading a group, negotiating, presenting, etc.  When trust needs to be established, a smile is a great way to start.
  3. Smiling Creates Greater Awareness and Mental Flexibility – Smiling increases your ability to see the “forest through the tees” which allows you to see the big picture beyond the situation at hand.  Meaning you’ll be more flexible.  Try it.  Smile when you’re trying to solve complex problems, understand a situation or point-of-view, and learn new information.  You’ll be more open to new ideas and insights needed to find the best solution.
  4. Smiling Can Generate a Higher Income – A study conducted by Kathi Tidd and Joan Lockard in a cocktail lounge confirmed that genuine smiling was shown to bring in more tips than a minimal smile.   The researchers believe this is due to “reciprocal altruism.” An example of reciprocal altruism would be an individual believing that if they perform altruistic acts, these acts would be reciprocated. When someone smiles, most people feel inclined to smile back. When someone does something nice for someone, most people feel inclined to do something nice in return.   As a side note, this concept is sometimes referred to as “the power of reciprocity,” and it’s been influencing marketing and sales techniques for years (but that’s a subject for another day).
  5. Smiling is Contagious – For the same reason stated above, when you smile, most individuals feel inclined to smile back.  And, based on all the positive health benefits, that means that smiling makes others’ feel better too.  When you smile, you’re promoting health and happiness.

Still smiling?  After reviewing all this evidence, it just makes sense to smile as much as possible.  To use another idiom, “put on a happy face.”  No extra time or money is required to perform this activity and the payback can be realized immediately.

Want to learn more about improving your outlook, appeal and presence?  We invite you to attend Powerful Presence, our 3-Day Intensive Workshop.   You’ll learn how to leverage your personal talents to be your best self and create an amazing and Powerful Presence.

So Simple, Easy and at No Cost! Smiling is a Silver Bullet for Happiness, Stress Reduction and More!

iStock_000019630934_ExtraSmallBy JoAnne Foist

When I coach runners, I’ve always told them to smile when they train and it will feel easier.  They thought I was crazy, but it worked!  In fact, you can always see me smiling when I am out running; it just makes me happier and makes the effort seem easier.  You’ve probably heard the popular idioms, “Smile at the world and the world smiles back,” and “grin and bear it.”  Conventional wisdom says that smiling makes things better, even easier.  And, the good news is that research has been proving what conventional wisdom has said for years.  Smiling has been proven to reduce stress, boost immunity, increase positive feelings, decrease depression, increase attractiveness and appeal, improve relationships, increase awareness and mental flexibility, lower perceived effort and produce higher income Whew…that’s a long list.

In essence, smiling is one of the simplest acts that you can practice daily to achieve positive physical and psychological heath benefits.  

Smiling has been scientifically proven to positively boost a person’s mood and lower their anxiety.  Psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas conducted a study to determine if there was scientific evidence that smiling affects individuals’ stress recovery.  They looked at two types of smiles: standard and genuine (Duchenne) smiles. Standard smiles use only the mouth muscles and genuine smiles use the muscles around the mouth and the eyes.  The first phase of the study was training participants to hold chopsticks in their mouth in such a manner that would either create a neutral facial expression, a standard smile, or a genuine smile.  The second phase was testing which consisted of the participants keeping the chopsticks in their mouth, as they had been taught, while performing two different multitasking activities that would cause stress.  Half of the entire group was told to smile while they preformed the task.  The participants’ heart rates and self-reported levels of stress were measured while they performed each activity.  The results of the study showed that participants who were instructed to smile had lower heart rates after activity recovery then the participants who held a neutral expression.  Even the participants who were forced to smile due to the chopstick positioning, but were not told to smile, experienced lower heart rates than the neutral expression group, although the difference was not as great. The group who held a genuine smile and who were told to smile had the most significant reduction in stress.  The researchers concluded, “These findings show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.”  See, smiling makes things feel easier!

Because smiling reduces stress, it allows the body’s immune system to function better. This means that smiling could protect people from catching the common cold or flu.  Added to that, because smiling causes lower blood pressure, it can support heart health. Continue reading

Where Would We Be Without Trust…Where Could We Go if We Had More of it.  

KS113261By Kimberly Gerber

Stop and think about how you go through your day as it relates to trust. You’ll quickly realize that most everything you do and experience is based on trust and being trustworthy.  We trust that other drivers will stay in their lanes, we trust that our cars will work, we trust that the school will teach and protect our children, we trust that our phones, computer and internet will work, and on and on.  When things don’t work, or our expectations are not met, we lose trust.  If these breaches happen often, we make changes to avoid and/or stop the breaches.

It’s the same for our relationships.  If we are trustworthy, we have solid relationships.  If we breach their trust, our friends, colleagues, etc. will go elsewhere.  Therefore, our personal and professional success comes down to building trust.  Below are four elements to building trust.

  1. Integrity – Trusting the character and principles of the person.
  2. Competence – Assessment of the person’s knowledge, skill, experience or authority to do what he/she is promising.
  3. Reliability – Based on experience, our assessment of whether we trust the person to fulfill the commitment they are making.
  4. Benevolence. Our assessment that the person cares enough about us to help, or at least not harm us.

Building trust is a process of extending trust, meaning trusting that someone will do what was committed to.  And protecting trust, which is meeting commitments.

Practice these four elements of trust in your interactions and pay attention to the process of extending and protecting trust and you’ll find that your relationships will become more solid and rewarding.  For a more in-depth look at the elements of trust, please read my “The Currency of Trust:  The Difference between Flourishing and Floundering”article published in Training Industry Magazine.

If trust is an area of opportunity for you, then we invite you to meet with communications experts and learn more about building trust!  There are many ways to connect with us – follow us on Facebook, signup to receive tips, attend our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop, or contact our offices to find out more about how we help successful professionals every day.

Believe It or Not, Success and Happiness Require You to Say “No!”

Say-No

By Kimberly Gerber

Last week I posted about how to rebuild trust and clarified that, while it’s possible, it’s even better to not put ourselves in the position of losing trust.  So how do we do this?  One way is by keeping healthy promises and learning how to recognize and prioritize the boundaries on our time.  This means saying “no” to the things that we either do not want to do, or that we don’t realistically have the capacity to do.  We put our priorities first, which oftentimes does not leave room for other things.

It sounds easy, but saying “no” can be a challenge.  Many of us struggle with holding boundaries in an attempt to be helpful, show initiative or create harmony.   We don’t want to disappoint others.  But trying to do everything will lead to feeling overworked, resentful, stressed, and/or unfocused.  And, it can keep you from accomplishing what’s most important to you.

The balance between being available for others, and creating healthy and fulfilling lives is a tough one.  And, sometimes we can make it more difficult than it needs to be because we don’t have strong skills in asserting our boundaries by saying “no.”

To help, here are two simple tips that you can use to strengthen your skill in this area and bring some balance back into your life.

  1. Be intentional about what you are saying “yes” to.   Whenever you say “yes” to one thing, you are inadvertently saying “no” to something else.  If someone makes a request, take some time to think through the implications and determine what you want to say “yes” to, and respond with confidence.  If the answer has to be a “no,” then you’ve let the other party know so they can make other plans.   A quick “no” is much better than saying “yes” to something that you can’t do and/or resent doing.
  2. Tell people what you “can” do, then tell them what you can’t do.  This serves to act as balm on a paper cut.  When you bring solutions that solve at least some of the problem, you communicate to the other person that you have been thoughtful and made an attempt to be helpful while still holding your boundary.

Saying “no” can be a challenge – but it doesn’t have to be!  Having clarifying priorities and being realistic about time helps.  If this is an area of opportunity for you, then we invite you to meet with communications experts and learn more about asserting your boundaries for success!  There are many ways to connect with us – follow us on Facebooksignup to receive tips, attend our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop or contact our offices to find out more about how we help successful professionals every day.

You Gotta act Quick, but “Yes,” it is Possible to Rebuild Trust! 

iStock.climbers.Small

By Kimberly Gerber

We are human after all and sometimes, even with our best intentions, we can fail to meet an obligation, keep a promise, or commit some other breach of trust.   When this happens you should immediately pursue rebuilding trust with integrity and sincerely.  Here are the six crucial steps to follow when doing this:

  1. Act immediately:  The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood the situation becomes irreversible.
  1. Acknowledge.  Accept.  Apologize:  For reconciliation to be credible, it is important that the offending party extend these three actions to the offended party.
  1. Be sincere:  If you are being forced to the table, or have another agenda, your offer will likely be declined.
  1. Provide restitution:  A gesture to commensurate with the offense may reduce resentment.  This often times does not need to be monetary.
  1. Renegotiate expectations:  To avoid further breaches of trust, discuss and even reset expectations that both parties feel comfortable agreeing to.
  1. Reaffirm commitment to the relationship:  Reconfirming your commitment to the person and to the process is an essential ingredient in rebuilding broken trust.

Following these six steps will help to rebuild broken trust.  Keep in mind, however, that an even better solution is to be realistic with expectations so as not to put yourself in situations of having to break a commitment.  This can be difficult to do sometimes, so we’ll talk about this in future posts.

Would you like to meet with communications experts and learn more about building trust and setting realistic expectations?   There are many ways to connect with us – follow us on Facebooksignup to receive tips, attend our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop, or contact our offices to find out more about how we help successful professionals every day.