Body language is one of the most important aspects of your life. And if you have positive body language, you’ll improve your relationships, improve your influence on others, and boost your confidence.
How do I know? Because I lived it. I saw the direct impact that my body language had on others.
You see, back in high school, I was frustrated with my social standing as a nerdy and skinny white dude. I was 5’7 and 120 lbs with a weak frame. I wore thin-frame glasses, spotted acne, and wore clothes two-sizes too big for me.
I was the typical no-class nerd. And I was okay with that…for a while. It seemed right to get good grades and do well academically and tell myself that “I’ll win in the long run” when I focused on my bookworm skills and ignored my social interactions.
But one day it dawned on me that there were certain aspects of my social life that I didn’t like, such as:
- Getting picked on by the older guys and not doing anything about it
- Watching those guys have all the fun, especially with the good-looking girls
- Not knowing what to do to ask a girl out to the prom
- Being shy and nervous around everyone that wasn’t a fellow nerd
So when I went to college, I made a promise to myself to get that shit figured out.
It was a long process breaking out of my social anxiety and Nice Guy Syndrome, but looking back, there were a few things that once I applied, changed the way people looked at me and the way I looked at myself.
Those aspects had to do with my body language. As in, the way I moved, talked, and carried myself on a day-to-day basis.
And instead of thinking for hours on end on the perfect thing to say, I saw how people didn’t care if I did something stupid when I had positive body language.
It was crazy how the way I looked at people, paid attention, and stood tall had a direct effect on my reality.
In the course of a couple weeks of concentrated effort in learning the different areas of body language, guys started respecting me and girls wanted to hang out with me. My anxiety revolved around people slowly started to disappear, and I excelled socially for the first time in my life.
This was like magic to me at the time. Remember in the movie Space Jam when the Monstars stole all the skills from the professional MBA players through the basketball? Yeah, well after I figured the whole body language thing out, I felt exactly like those Monstars.
All cheesy 90’s metaphors aside, I finally felt confident in who I was.
I remember overhearing a friend talking about me who said, “yeah, he’s a nerd…but he’s a nerd who gets it.”
If that’s not the ultimate compliment, I don’t know what is.
Now, going up to an attractive girl and telling her she’s cute? No problem.
Speaking my mind and telling a guy that he’s doing the wrong thing? No problem.
Throwing social events and making sure everyone is having a good time? No problem.
I laugh at how socially awkward I was back then now, but looking back, I notice the one factor that skyrocketed my ability to get this stuff figured out:
Powerful, masculine body language.
The Power of Impression
The impressions we have on the people in our lives determine our fate. It determines who we work with, who we live with, and who we date. But not only does it determine our impressions with others — it also determines the impression we have on ourselves.
We ask ourselves:
What type of person am I?
How do I want to come off to the world?
How do I become my best self?
The answer to these questions is manifested in our body language.
It defines our reality.
Think about this…
A study conducted by Dr. Ray Birdwhistle at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that 93% of human communication occurs non-verbally and unconsciously in feeling-based communication.
Not 50%, not 75%, but 93 percent.93% of feeling-based human communication occurs non-verbally and unconsciously
Now, that 93 percent value certainly changes and is not “hard evidence”, but the fact is that your body language has an effect on your level of communication.
Have you ever heard that you know everything there is to know about someone within the first 3 seconds of meeting them? That’s why.
But what defines good body language? What determines that 93%?
In this article, you’ll learn what that 93% is made of so that you can develop strong body language characteristics and apply them to your life.
How To Use This Guide
For each area of body language, you’ll learn what it is, why it’s important, and how to put it into practice.
In order to keep your sanity, pick one area and focus on that area until it becomes second nature. For instance, if you see that eye contact is an area you should improve on, focus on your eye contact ONLY and nothing else. After around 30 days (perhaps sooner), it’ll likely be installed as a habit and you won’t have to focus on it anymore.
On that note, body language is a skill. And with any skill, it takes time to develop. It won’t become a habit overnight. Be patient.
Now, before you learn about the different areas, you’ll learn how body language affects your reality.
How Your Body Language Affects Your Reality
Your body language has a gigantic effect on how you show up in the world. It determines:
• Your connection with the people in your life
• The relationship with yourself
• Your ability to influence others
• Your ability to attract the women you want in your life
Scientifically, it works by affecting these two areas:
1. Your hormones
2. Your interpretation of reality (your emotional feedback loop)
Let me explain.
First, your body language controls the release of two specific hormones: testosterone and cortisol. Amy Cuddy, in Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, demonstrates how both hormones are affected.
When you strike a “confidence pose”, these hormones start to help you. Testosterone, the hormone that controls confidence, gets a boost, while cortisol, the hormone the controls stress, drops.
So by consciously posing in the right way, you change these two hormones in your body. You increase your confidence and lower your stress, making you a more powerful and attractive person. Here are some power poses:
On the flip side, these hormones are negatively affected when you go into weak stances, like putting your hand around your neck or curling up into a ball. It goes both ways.
Now, take a look at the graphs below to see the change in hormones that occur when strike a “high power pose” or a “low power pose” for 2 minutes each. This is the scientific impact.
Yes – that’s right. When you pose with your arms in the “victory” position for 2-minutes, your testosterone goes up and your cortisol goes down. Frickin’ awesome.
But not only does your body language DIRECTLY affects the chemicals in your body, it also affects your habits.
It does this through modifying your feedback loop – the process through which you learn specific physical and mental behaviors that define your view of reality.
Basically, this is how it works:
Your thoughts influence your emotions, which influence your actions , which influence the outcome, which either gives you positive or negative feedback.
Regardless of the type of feedback, your perceptions are altered based on it. If it’s negative, your perception of reality is tainted. This in return affects your emotions once again, which reinforces your negative actions and body language once again.
This feedback loop happens all the time — when you’re at your job, with your friends, or with random people on the street.
So in order to create positive social outcomes in your life, you have to break the loop.
To break it, you have to consciously change your actions despite your emotions so that your reality can change, thus transforming your experiences into more positive ones over time.
The following body language aspects, starting with the most impactful, will help you do just that.
Here we go.
1. The Foundation of Powerful Body Language: Deliberate And Focused Relaxation
Slooowwww dowwwwnn, with your body and with your mind. Relax.
Look around you. Where are you? What does it look like? How do you feel?
Look at the small details in your surroundings. Notice the grains in the table your sitting at. What does it look like?
What do you smell right now?
Take a couple moments and slow down to appreciate your surroundings.
Do this in everything that you do – whether walking down the street, writing memos at work, or when you’re out partying.
Because when you slow down, you relax. You collect your emotions, and people can tell. They’ll feel more calm themselves, and when you give someone the experience of relaxing, they’ll love you for it.
This is the foundation for positive, powerful body language. Slow, deliberate, calm movements allow you to focus on the other aspects with intention and ease.
A Great Example
Watch this scene from the movie Avatar as the Colonel gives a speech to the soldiers. Notice how slow and deliberate he walks. Confident, yet calm at the same time.
Putting It Into Practice
The best way to slow down in day-to-day life is to develop a mindfulness practice. Meditation, simply for 10-minutes a day. Here’s a video that explains the process.
1. Sign up for the free 10-day meditation course at Headspace to learn the basics of mindfulness and how to slow down in your life. This is the best free course I’ve found because they use animated videos to explain the process.
2. Commit to the lessons for 10-days, and apply the teachings in your everyday life
3. Rinse and repeat.
2. Deep Belly Breathing – How To Be Present
Deep belly breathing oxygenates your blood and lessens your stress. When you breathe deep into your stomach, rather than your chest, you naturally become more present to your surroundings. You get out of your head and into your body, thus increasing your confidence.
Belly breathing is vital to how you present yourself to others. David Deida, the renowned author of Way of the Superior Man, advises that guys should ‘Breathe Down the Front’:
“The principal bodily key to mastering the world and women is maintaining a full and open front of the body at all times. The basic method is through full and relaxed breathing, drawing energy down the front, and freeing attention from neurotic self-concern.”
It’s amazing the effect this has on your overall energy and health levels, which people subconsciously pick up on. To look more confident and have more influence over the people around you, the quickest way is this: to actually become more confident and have more influence over the people around you. Belly breathing is a necessary practice for this aspect.
Putting It Into Practice
Use the following exercise to practice, and continually breathe into your belly when you can.
Exercise (from The Multi-Orgasmic Man):
1. Sit on a chair with your back straight and your feet touching the floor about shoulder width apart.
2. Place your hands over your navel and relax your shoulders.
3. Inhale through your nose and feel your lower abdomen expand at the navel area (below and around it) so that it bulges outward. Your diaphragm will also descend.
4. Keeping your chest relaxed, exhale with some force to pull the lower abdomen back in, as if you were pulling your navel back toward your spine.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 eighteen to thirty-six times.
Notice how purposeful you feel when you walk around while breathing deeply. Once you do it, you won’t find yourself watching mindless TV or surfing the Internet without purpose. Don’t worry about your stomach protruding or looking fat – no one cares.
Elliott Hulse, CEO of Strength Camp, also has phenomenal deep breathing exercises to try out.
If we were to take the most important concepts of body language and dial it down, this is one of the most important. Focus on breathing deeply and the rest will fall into place.
3. Eye Contact – It Tells You Everything
Eyes are the gateway to the soul. When you make solid eye contact, you show other people that you’re comfortable with yourself.
You show that you value yourself and that you’re paying attention to them at the same time, learning all that you can about them.
Eckhard Hess, in his study on The Role of Pupil Size in Communication (PDF), noticed that “changes in attitude can be detected by measuring changes in pupil size. It now appears that enlarged or constricted pupils can also affect the attitude and responses of the person who observes them.”
This means that you can tell a lot about someone by looking at their eyes.
Now, it’s hard to pay attention to someone’s pupil size..but you can ask yourself the following questions:
Are they looking all over the place? They’re distracted or untrustworthy.
Are they focused, intently looking at you? They’re interested in you and hearing what you have to say. Or they’re going to kill you
Realistically though, the quality of someone’s eye contact tells you a lot about them.
A Great Example
Watch Russel Brand on this TV show, and notice how strong his eye contact is.
Putting It Into Practice
So how do you improve your eye contact?
You want your eye contact to be strong, but not overwhelming. Confident, yet relaxed.
A great way to do this is to use the following rules of eye contact:
1. When someone is speaking, look at her eyes. Pay attention and listen. Feel in your own body what she is saying. If you find yourself losing focus, look at her other eye.
2. When you are speaking, look at the person you’re talking to…and occasionally look up past her. This breaks uncomfortable tension that she might have from too much eye contact.
It sounds simple, and it is — but it isn’t always easy. We often look away when we’re in uncomfortable situations, like talking to an attractive woman at the bar or to a recruiter at a job interview.
But by consciously remembering the following statement, you’ll set yourself up for good eye contact:
“How is the other person’s eye contact right now?”
By focusing on the people you’re talking to, you shift your eye contact to pay attention automatically.
Powerful, powerful stuff.
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4. Duchenne Smile (and The Effect of Emotional Contagion)
The Duchenne Smile is the name for the smile that you have when you are genuinely happy. Here’s the difference between a regular smile and a Duchenne smile:
As you can see, the Duchenne (genuine) smile doesn’t just include the mouth — it includes the eyes, too. Just to give you an idea of how these Duchenne smiles affect you and the people around you, take a look at this:
LeeAnne Harker and Dacher Keitner, at UC Berkeley, conducted a 30 year study (PDF) that examined the relationship of smiles of women’s yearbook to their life outcome (personality, health, and status of their marriage).
The women with Duchenne smiles showed a positive relationship to their life outcome, compared to the women who gave fake smiles for their yearbook pictures.
It shows that the more you genuinely smile, the more likely you’ll be happier in your life.
Putting It Into Practice
Most people can learn how to use Duchenne smiles to generate higher levels of happiness. As I went into in my giving chocolate post, I showed that smiling at someone is a great way to build a connection — it’s like giving them the rush of eating a chocolate bar or two.
This concept is called emotional contagion. By becoming happy yourself, you can transfer this emotion to other people around you, thus increasing your connection with them. Chances are you’ve smiled back when someone gave you a genuine smile, a Duchenne smile. For example…try not to laugh or smile at this video:
While writing this I couldn’t help but smile, even when I knew the effect that emotional contagion has on me. It’s unstoppable. And it’s a crucial element to positive body language.
But the point is this: if you practice your Duchenne smile more, you’ll find that emotional contagion works on others AND on yourself. You’ll feel happier, other people will feel happier, and your relationships will be stronger. People will like you more, you’ll have more fun, and you’ll have more influence.
It’s a win-win-win….win.
On that note, don’t overdo it. If you’re truly amused and think something is funny, share the smile with someone — but don’t feel like you have to give one of these badass smiles all the time if you aren’t feeling it.
1. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Focus on just smiling you’re your mouth
2. Smile again and focus on your eyes. Smile with your eyes. Notice how you feel.
5. Deepen Your Voice…Without Sounding Like Morgan Freeman
Your voice has a profound impact on how you are perceived by others. The deeper and more collected you sound, the more people will listen to you.
If you speak with an uneasy, high-pitched voice, you can expect people to dismiss you easily. Control it in a deeper manner and you’ll be more attractive and be more influential to those around you.
A study conducted by Duke University proved that, after analyzing speech samples from 792 male CEOs, deeper-voiced CEOs were more likely to run larger companies, lasted longer in those positions, and were paid more than their non-deep-voice peers.
So, deeper voice = more influential.
Putting It Into Practice
So how do you deepen your voice?
There’s a whole field behind voice training, but I’m going to give you the number one technique to deepen your voice without months of dedicated practice.
Try the following exercise:
1. Stick your head out in front of your body and speak as low as you can. Like your re-enacting the turtle scene from Master of Disguise.
2. Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your head straight up. Now speak as low as you can.
3. Go back and forth between steps 1 & 2. Notice the HUGE difference between the two.
When you don’t have good posture, it becomes impossible to speak with a confidence, deep voice. So make sure your head aligns with the rest of your body, and by breathing deeply, you set yourself up to have a naturally confident and attractive voice.
Kate DeVore, author of bestselling book The Voice Book, makes it clear: “voice quality and ease, or the lack thereof, is closely linked to posture and muscle tension. Slouching posture or tension in the throat, jaw, shoulders, and neck can negatively affect the voice.”
*NOTE: Most guys attempt to over do this and speak with a fake deep voice. Don’t do that – simply align your head correctly, follow the other aspects (belly breathing, relaxation) and you’ll naturally speak with a confident, deep voice.
Check in with yourself throughout to day to ensure you’re relaxed and in good posture and your voice will follow.
6. Touch — It Feels Good, Man
Increasing the amount of touch you have in your life drastically improves the connection with the people around you. It increases your attractiveness, demonstrates your sexual confidence, and builds connection.
Touch, much like your posture, has a significant effect on two chemicals in your brain: oxytocin and cortisol.
Oxytocin is the chemical for bonding, comfort, and trust. When couples hold handles or kiss, their oxytocin gets a boost, thus strengthening their connection. Similarly, touch between strangers in a comfortable setting has the same effect.
Dr. Paul Zak, in his TED talk entitled Trust, Morality — and Oxytocin?, demonstrated the power of oxytocin by proving that sharing at least 8 hugs per day leads to a happier life.
In other words, touch = oxytocin = connection = influence.
With that taken into consideration, you’ll increase connection and bonding as long as you don’t touch people aggressively or intrusively.
Oxytocin is also responsible for protecting people against strangers, so you could be seen as a threat if you do it too much or too strongly. Just don’t be an asshole and you won’t have any problems.
Now in addition to raising oxytocin, the increase of touch does one more thing…
It lowers the body’s stress hormone, cortisol.
Matt Hertenstein, a psychologist at DePauw University, states that “having this friendly touch, just somebody simply touching our arm and holding it, buffers the physiological consequences of this stressful response.”
So, being a more ‘touchy’ person has its benefits. Connection goes up, stress goes down.
Putting It Into Practice
A simple way to amplify the positive benefits of oxytocin and cortisol in your life, in addition to hugging your friends, is to touch strangers on the outside of their elbow.
It’s not intrusive, boosts oxytocin, lowers cortisol, and helps you build rapport with people you just meet.
Other than that, get used to being more touchy with people. Give people hugs. Touch people’s arms. Play physical games (football, wrestling, etc). Chemically it builds connection and helps you get close with people in your life.
Become more comfortable with your touch and you’re body language impact goes up.
1. Go one day without any touch at all.
2. Now, go one day with giving as many hugs, high-fives, back massages, hand holding, wrestling, playing physical sports, and cuddling as much you can. Perhaps in that order.
3. Ask yourself “How do I feel?” “What was my day like when there’s more physical touching going on?”
7. Mirroring and The Chameleon Effect
Mirroring your body language to the people you’re with is another factor in someone’s ability to connect with others.
By mirroring your body language, you increase the comfort level to the people that you’re talking to. Do it right and you can connect with the person – do it wrong and you risk being ostracized for “being creepy.”
Why does this happen?
Researchers at the Boston University Medical School studied films of people having conversations, and noticed that the people talking unconsciously co-ordinated their movements (finger movements, eye blinks, head nods, etc).
The researchers monitored these people, and saw that over time, the people who mirrored each other made better rapport. Their brain waves spiked at the same times, thus creating a common connection between them.
This is (one reason) why drunk people love to hook up with each other at the bar — they’re on the same wavelength and the connection happens naturally…and unconsciously.
Mirroring also helps you blend in with your environment. It shows others that you belong.
It’s called the chameleon-effect. Chartrand and Bargh talk about it in their 1999 study (PDF):
“We found that mimicry occurred even in the most minimal circumstances in which the interactants were unacquantined and had no goal to affiliate; thus it may be that newly formed groups would benefit from non conscious mimicry and imitation as well as would established groups.”
Now, there are plenty of ways to mirror someone as mentioned above, but the most powerful is simply take notice of the direction of your hips.
Notice how he looks like he’s in her space uninvited. No good – he obviously didn’t learn what mirroring was. Rather, what he could have done to mirror her behavior (and come off less threatening), was to sit next to her, order a drink. and face the bar — not more towards her.
Here’s a better example: their hips are facing the same direction because they’re engaged in what each other has to say. If the girl was facing away with her hips, that’d be a sign that she’s not ready to focus on the conversation.
It doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to talk to you, but give her the comfortability of mirroring what she’s doing.
So notice where your hips are facing. And if someone is pointing in a different direction with their hips, direct your hips that way too. It’ll be easier to develop a connection that way because it makes people comfortable.
Putting It Into Practice
Take a notepad to a coffee shop, sit down, and take a look at the groups of people around you. Can you guess what kind of relationship they have together? Are they dating or are they just friends? Look at how they’re interacting with each other – are they facing each other or faced a different direction?
Use the lessons learned above about eye contact, touch, and mirroring to give you clues.
Your body language shapes you. It shapes how people see you and how you see yourself.
With concentrated effort, positive body language changes the way you interact with the people in your life. It changes how you connect, how you form relationships, and how you influence others.
Use this article as a reference. Come back to it to check in with yourself to see if you’re body language is on point. And remember, body language is a skill. It does not define you. But it does help, and will help you take your life to the next level.
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October 2nd, 2013 | Max Nachamkin | 23 Comments |
About The Author
My name is Max Nachamkin. My mission is to help you master the core three aspects of your life: your career, your health, and your relationships. I want you to conquer your own world and become the leader of your life.
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- How to Give Women What They Really Want ft. Christian Hudson
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- Are You a Nice Guy? How to Be a Good Guy Instead
- How To Never Get Sick (And Add 72,000 Hours To Your Life)
- The Inner Gladiator Podcast Ep 1 – The Trustable Man ft. Damien Diecke
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