Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Practice Your Body Language

We all know that body language is an important element in communication and persuasion. But have we ever thought of practicing it or advising our students to practice it? From the Stanford Business Magazine online:

Before a critical meeting with your boss, an important customer, or your teenage son or daughter, do you spend time mentally roughing out and revising what you are going to say?  If so, social psychologist Deborah Gruenfeld has a message for you: You are misdirecting your energy. Spend time instead practicing how to walk, stand, sit, and quickly grasp how other people are moving their bodies.

Gruenfeld, an experimental social psychologist on the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, gives this advice standing in the front of a full classroom, her weight planted firmly and evenly on both high-heeled feet, looking straight at her audience, speaking in complete sentences. She is demonstrating what acting coaches sometimes call “playing high.” That means she is making sure everybody in the room knows she is in charge in this time and place.

Gruenfeld gives an example:

And don’t forget, Gruenfeld says, that your posture affects you as well as other people. She asks her seated audience to press their knees together, hold their elbows close to their sides, and lean forward. While in that position, she has them say "I am totally in charge." They laugh because they didn't believe their own words. Then she instructs them to lower their shoulders, drape an outstretched arm over the back of their chair, and spread their legs wide, taking up more space. High-status people, she says, generally let their bodies take more space than low-status people. That alone makes them both appear and feel relaxed.



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