Wednesday, 9 May 2012

5 body language tips for social situations

Ever gone to a party and felt like a bump on a log, found a quiet corner and hid from everybody else? Do you prefer time alone, to being with others?  
Here's 5 things you can do which will stand you in good stead when you find yourself in social situations that require some intentional chit chat. 

1.  Be friendly.
There is nothing like a smile and friendly word to let people know you're not going to bite. Friendliness is not hard, but it does require you to look at someone and smile. This is so basic and simple, it's amazing that not everyone knows this, or if they know it, they don't care, in which case they are probably not reading this blog anyway, so for those of you who ARE reading it, learn to smile at people. Acknowledge them. Do the 'nod your head' thing. Give some indication that you're acknowledging another's presence and you're not a threat.

2.  Make eye contact.
In some cultures eye contact is considered rude. But not here, people. Here it's rude if you don't look at someone. This is closely related to being friendly. If you couple being friendly with making eye contact, this is a great demo of your availability and approachability.

 Photo: David Castillo Dominici
3.  Be interested.  
Looking at your watch, making phone calls, sending text messages, and 'zoning out' are all examples of what NOT to do if you want to demonstrate interest. Giving your attention to someone is a valuable way of demonstrating that you're interested in them. Face them. Put the phone down. Give them your attention and listen up!

4.  Listen more than talk.
First let me say that listening is NOT about shutting up long enough for the other person to stop talking so you can jump in and wax lyrical. Oh nooo. Listening is very active and requires concentration and a learned skill. You know when someone's listening to you because they are giving 'verbal nods' to what you're saying such as 'uh huh' or 'yes' or 'mmmm'. And especially listen by tuning into the other's descriptions and tap into the essence of their message. Then summarise what you just heard in your own words. 

photo: africa
5.  Be genuine.  
Don't make yourself bigger than you are.  Don't name drop.  Don't tell such exaggerated stories that paint yourself in a rosy light. People can see through you and just think you're a dickhead. Find that place of honest transparency and learn to express yourself in appropriate ways.  

Comments? Wax lyrical, folks.