Body Language Expert
Author, Speaker, Consultant, Spokesperson & Media Personality
11 Things They See in Your Body Language that Turn Them Off to You and Your Message Immediately
What does wearing a toupee say to a person? So many of us with hair, both men and women, accuse toupee wearers of being not only insecure but also lacking self esteem. The balding man who succumbs to societies mandate for a full crop of hair lives in constant state of fear and anxiety over the possibility of being discovered. Is it fair, No. How many of us color our hair? I know plenty of women who wear girdles to make themselves shaplier. Women all over are getting breast implants, people in general have liposurgery, rhinoplasty, facelifts, botox injections, chemical peels, collagen injections, laser resurfacing and a ton of other procedures I will leave out. The truth is we all want to look better. However, the bottom line here is the perception we derive from individuals wearing a toupee. It is unfortunate that there is such a bias towards toupees when the wearer just wants to improve his appearance. Yet, this is the place we are at. The perception of insecurity and low self esteem is an extension of our feelings of pity for the toupee wearer. Sometimes, for the gentler of our species, it is actually difficult to speak to someone wearing a bad toupee. Please, realize although I am not speaking for the entire man made world, statistically speaking balding individuals are seen as braver, stronger, more powerful, and completely secure when you are willing to throw caution (and hair stubs) to the wind and shave your head.
2. Woman who wear too much perfume
We all want to smell nice and perfumes and colognes give us that sexy feeling. However, walk into a typical work environment and there is a cosmic battle for supremacy in the aroma arena. You are immediately assaulted by the stauch smell over strong scents which usually enter the room before the wearer and linger long after they have gone. how does this happen? Scents waft up the nasal cavity all the way to the olfactory bulb .
In addition, scent works as a primer or trigger. What do I mean by that? Well, the olfactory bulb analyzes the smell and then sends a message to another part of the brain where it is given a specific meaning or perception. Something unique. So that the recognition of a scent can carry a memory of a happy or sad event and trigger an emotion. Chanel No. 5 may trigger happiness in one individual and sadness in another. Lets realize the significance of scent in the workplace. What if for example, you are a female applying for a job with a male interviewer. You are wearing your favorite scent, lets say Princess by Vera Wang, you handle the interview flawlessly, you answer every question appropriately and your references are impecabble. In essence, this job was made just for you. What happens though if the interviewers wife wears Princess and she just asked him for a divorce. What do you think is going to happen the minute he smells your perfume? Do you think you are going to get the job? He may not even realize why he suddenly dislikes you, all he knows is you are not a good fit for this position. Could it go the other way? Absolutely. The interviewer might catch a whiff of Princess and suddenly recall a magical evening or a wonderful childhood memory. However, why take a chance? Why not go with what you know is going to represent you in your best light? YOU!
3. Poor/limp handshake
The handshake is important. It makes up a significant portion of the first impression. What does a limp or careless handshake say about a person? Usually it will say an individual is weak and has poor self esteem. This can quickly be interpreted subconsciously as a big negative. If you cannot even shake hands properly, how can you possibly be a good business partner, employee, etc. A poor handshake automatically leads to feelings of awkwardness and unease. This is one of your first opportunities to exhibit confidence and professionalism. First and foremost - can you do the business handshake? A handshake is a critical opportunity to establish rapport and show confidence. You can develop an immediate form of intimacy from the touching of hands. However, there are several significant variations that you need to be aware of to set the proper tone. The handshake should be done as soon as you introduce yourself to someone. To properly shake someone's hand, lean forward, extend the right hand vertically and simultaneously introduce yourself. How you grip the hand is also significant. You are looking for the "middle of the road" type grip which can suggest self confidence and enthusiasm. In addition, make sure your hand stays vertical. It can be seen as overassertive to clamp your hand down onto someone else's with your palm down. On the flip side, allowing your hand to be palm up when going to shake hands can be a sign of submission. Offer a full palm to palm handshake. To ensure you maintain control of the handshake, move to left side as the person approaches and extend your arm horizontally. The person who stands to the left of the handshake has the ability to dominate with the palm down if he/she so chooses.
Also, Keep your hands as dry as possible. Sweaty palms speak volumes about nervousness. Try to carry around a napkin to keep your palms dry. Also, cold hands are sometimes caused by nervousness so if you suffer from cold hands make sure you (discreetly) rub them together briskly before shaking hands with someone. A friend of mine who happens to suffer from cold hands will always shake hands with a verbal message cold hands, warm heart.
How long should the handshake last? The handshake should not last more than 2-3 pumps up and down which is approximately 2-3 seconds.
4. Avoid Eye Contact
Eye contact is crucial to establishing rapport trust and demonstrating sincerity. Eye contact shows an individual that you are interested in them. That what they have to say is meaningful to you. Usually we associate shiftiness and deceit with lack of eye contact. People who do not maintain eye contact are usually regarded as having something to hide or perhaps lying. Avoidance of eye contact can demonstrate a short attention span, it screams lack of interest. If you are unable to maintain eye contact others will automatically assume a lack of confidence. Eye contact is so significant is the United States, that it is a sign of great disrespect to not offer it to our conversant. Check out your own eye contact. Ask others if they have noticed whether you maintain eye contact part of the time, most of the time or all of the time. Once you have an answer, if you need to, practice. Videotape yourself giving a talk and watch the video. Notice when you seem to move your eyes away and then, once again, practice. Although sometimes it can be uncomfortable maintaining eye contact, it is essential that you learn this skill to help build rapport and gain confidence. Of course, cultural differences must be considered when defining appropriate eye contact. Keep in mind, some cultures regard direct eye contact as threatening, rude, disrespectful or impolite.
5. Poor Voice Quality
The sounds we make are quite telling of our current mood and can provide precious clues and insights during sales, negotiations, job interviews, and just about anything else you can think of. Here are some clues:
Pitch: Slight pitch fluctuation during conversation is normal. However, a monotone pitch throughout an entire conversation can be a strong indicator of boredom or indifference. A high pitch would indicate excitement, nervousness and sometimes lying whereas a low pitch might be indicative of anger.
Volume: Volume can sometimes be an indicator of anger as well, however, some people just tend to talk very loud. Speaking loud is considered disruptive and sometimes crude. Individuals who speak at very low volumes are sometimes thought of as insecure and shy. As an aside to volume, silence can sometimes be the loudest indicator of mood. Silence (when not necessary) sends a very strong message of how you are feeling internally.
Articulation and Pronunciation: You simply must know how to articulate properly if you are to be seen as a persuasive or intelligent individual. Skimming and combining words, example: djeet? ( translation: Did you eat?) Speaks volumes about a person. Incorrect pronunciation usually has a stigma of ignorance and incompetence attached.
Rhythm: The rhythmic pattern of your voice allows you to sound either unprepared or thoughtful. How? Well, sometimes pregnant pauses (when done properly) are perceived as thought provoking as well as thoughtful. Irregular patterns, however, might also been seen as uncertainty and insecurity when combined with other nonverbal cues such as wide eyes, nervous body language, high pitched voice, etc.
6. Fidgeting, tapping and jingling
Why do we fidget? Could it be that recent studies show that fidgeting can help to increase weight loss because it is comparable to a mini-exercise program? Probably not, as a matter of fact, most of the time people do not even realize they are fidgeting. In addition to weight loss, there are many reasons for fidgeting. Fidgeting is sometimes your bodies response to discomfort or being in the same position for too long. I think of it as the body boredom fidget. Pressure starts somewhere in your body and the subconscious mind reacts. You change your position and remain steady for a few moments but the pressure starts all over. Once again, you begin to shift. Consciously, you do not realize you are doing this, however, subconsciously you recognize you are uncomfortable and your body reacts. This is a normal fidget and is not annoying or insulting. However, the fidgeting that some do such as constant movement, drumming of the fingers, rocking, swaying, toe tapping, jingling whatever is in your pocket at the moment, jazzing the leg, biting the nails, touching the skin, and moving around restlessly, that is usually an indication of nervousness, impatience and mental boredom. It can be construed as a lack of confidence, control and competence. Be self aware of each of your movements. Recognize that each movement says something about you and your state of mind at any moment. Keeping disciplined gestures with the upper and lower body demonstrates that you are in control.
7. Talking too much
Someone who does not know when to stop talking can drive a person batty and can also lead to misinterpretation. Sometimes we are so excited to share something with someone that we miss the fact that their eyes have glazed over due to boredom, indifference or simple overload. Their body might be standing there but when you finally take a moment to look into their eyes, you see they are way gone. Sometimes we go on and on because we dont believe our conversant is understanding exactly what we are trying to tell them or we believe that they are truly interested in all the minute details of our story. Generally, this is because although we had good intentions, we spoke too long and did not give our conversant the time needed to process what we said. The majority of the time, people who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, narcissistic, oblivious or all about me types of people. Incidentally, most people who talk too much do not think they are perceived as talking too much. This is a terrible stigma to have and once designated, can be tough to get rid of. Remember the key components to effective communication a conversation is about sharing with someone not monopolizing their time.
8. Superior gestures
Dont get me wrong. Superior gestures have their place. However, in certain situations, demonstrating superior body language can do more harm than good. What are the telltale signs of someone who believes they are superior? Have you ever seen someone lean back in a chair with their arms folded behind their head and their legs extended out. What about the individual who does not recognize your personal zone, not because they are unaware of it, but because they do not respect it. Superiority is also demonstrated by the individual who steeples their fingers together while you speak to them or while they speak to you. An individual who holds their hands behind their back while speaking to you is exposing their vulnerable front while establishing their audacity and courage. Some people will let their thumbs express superiority; using the thumbs indicates you feel in control of yourself and are filled with confidence.
9. Shifting and moving around
It is interesting to note that shifting from one foot to another is indicative of high levels of anxiety. This could be related to untruthfulness or plain nervousness. The same inference occurs when you cross and uncross your legs or you cross the right over the left and then change to the left over the right. Why do we shift from side to side? It could be as simple as your legs get tired from staying in one position. Or, you could be worried that your spouse has found a questionable email on your computer and you are still unsure as to what the outcome will be. Either way, when another is watching you, they are perceiving that shifting as uneasiness which leads people to question your capabilities as well as their trust in your competence.
10. Biting your
Biting your anything can indicate anxiety, nervousness, deception and a whole host of other negative displays. Biting your lip during an interview can reek havoc for a candidate as the interviewer would question whether the candidate was indeed nervous or perhaps covering up a lie on their resume. Biting the lips can also indicate a lack of confidence or embarrassment - Have you ever noticed someone biting their lips and tilting their head down when they have done something foolish? Of course, some people just bite their lips when they are concentrating, however, it is tough to discern the why so it is better to keep the lips full and relaxed. Biting your fingernails indicates boredom, nervousness and fear, plus it is a very dirty and disgusting habit akin to cannibalism . Lastly, chewing on a pencap, pencil, straw, toothpick, necklaces, or the flesh of the inner cheek, all indicate insecurity.!
11. leaning into a person before they are ready
We all enjoy our own personal bubble in which we maintain our sanity. This bubble gives us an opportunity to observe people from a distance which is comfortable for us. Normally, our bubbles extend further out in the front than they do on the sides. This is mostly because we are more vulnerable in the front of our bodies. This can be dangerous in any situation because you immediately do irreparable damage to your image with your conversant and it is difficult to get them back on your side once this deed is done. Leaning into a person too early earmarks you as a space intruder who will be thought of as strange and unaware of social norms. Leaning into a person also indicates submission and is seen as being overly needy which is an immediate turn off to opposite sex and same sex individuals.
Intention Versus Perception
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