Posture is really important. We all know posture of a depressed person and you can see them a mile away head down, shoulders down. A person with lack of confidence again you can see it oozing out of their body by the way that they hold themselves. Make sure that you really make an effort to force that out through your posture so your shoulders are back, your eyes are wide, your head is up and you’ve got a smile on your face.
As you walk into a room make sure that you take a moment to look around the room – what that will do is give people the impression that you’re interested in your environment, that you’re open, and that you’re alert.
Now handshakes: These are really key – it needs to be a good firm grip that you use. I don’t mean crush their fingers – this isn’t a wrestling match but a firm grip whilst looking them right in the eyes and smile at the same time. If you do a firm grip and look them in the eyes and don’t smile that’s just spooky.
I remember once doing a handshake with someone and it was a man who’d come to see me for some therapy and as he came into the room and introduced himself he put his hand out to shake my hand and he just kind of, it was almost like a stroke of the hand, instead of a grasp and it was just very strange and it just made his whole persona suddenly seem very wishy washy.
If it’s comfortable for you to do so, then lean back in your chair because it makes you look more comfortable in that environment. However, if the person you’re talking to looks quite intense and they are leaning forward, from a rapport point of view you’ll want to be doing the same as them.
If you are somebody that makes gestures with your hands then again make sure that you’re very clear about how you’re making these gestures. Make sure the gestures are there to make a point and that they’re not just they’re kind of like puppet hands just doing their own thing whilst you’re talking. When you’re using your hands to make gestures don’t raise your hands any higher than your shoulders because if you do, it starts to look a little intense and crazy so keep your hands down in front of you. Ensure that they’re not kind of getting in the way in and blocking the energy that’s coming off of your body.
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Sometimes we have a bit of a habit to cover our solar plexus area which is around the tummy area and that’s really where all our energy is centred from, so you don’t want to be using your hands to cover that area up. Because it can look, not necessarily defensive, but as if you’re holding back in some way.
Remember as well the Satir categories – Some of those have very distinctive hand gestures that go with them so for example a waggly finger or a kind of punching into the hand is a very hard-hitting gesture. It conveys lots of power and it can be useful in emphasising a point but if you’re generally spending a lot of your time and energy doing that then it can come across as too aggressive.
If the hands are going out, palms up and the shoulders are coming up then that really looks like an ‘I don’t know’, posture. it looks apologetic and it looks weak. Definitely avoid that one.
Now bringing your hand up onto the chin for the thinking pose can definitely be useful at times, particularly when you’re talking about information or you actually need to get some information out of your brain that perhaps hasn’t popped up as quickly as you’d like it to. You don’t want to spend all of your time in that position though because it can look a little bit cut off from emotion and a bit too analytical.
The next one that you can think about is what we would call the distractor and this is the one where your hands are everywhere, flying around in different directions and it’s a bit of a joker pose really. It’s the one that the class clown does – jazz hands and is not the one to use when you’re making a first impression.
The best one by far is of course the leveller. The gesture for this is all about bringing the hands palms down towards the floor and pushing the hand straight down in front of you and then the right hand goes out to the right and on equal level the left hand goes out to the left simultaneously.
It’s not an easy thing to describe without showing you obviously but if you think about the hands both starting at the same level, the same height, moving down together and then at the same height, moving apart from each other. Notice how it makes you feel when you do it. It really conveys this kind of the information I need to give you and that’s the way it is.
It’s very certain and it’s decisive. It has a degree of control to it but not in a bad way. It’s not an aggressive control that we might see with the blamer pose.
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By Gemma Bailey