Openness, Approachability, Body Language and Attraction
Here are some questions I recently answered as part of an article for Health magazine
1. We talked about how women have a smaller stance and that it can make people think you're a doormat.
That is not a doormat stance just a regular stance. It simply means when women stand with their feet less than five inches apart that they look a little less powerful and are physically just easier to push over because their stance is typically not as broad.
2. How would you recommend standing if you want to command respect, say with a co-worker or with a teen?
Knowing there is a fine line between respect and aggression I would say 6 to 8 inches apart to give information and commands For example, should you stand up straight or plant your feet a certain width apart.
3. If you notice that you cross your arms as a way of keeping people out, is there another way you can hold your arms or hands that's more approachable, like behind your back or something like that?
First there are over 60 different ways of crossing your arms and reasons for all of them. If you would like to look and feel approachable you want your hands to be viewable. Think cave man brain, we want to make sure the person we approach is not armed. Also you ideally want to show the palms of your hands, gesture with open hand and keep the center of your body where your heart lies open or unblocked. If your nervous you can rest an arm at your side and touch your fingers together to give yourself an security anchor or briefly put on hand in your pocket.
4. What if you notice that you cross your arms to hold in emotions or thoughts, is there anything you can do with your body to help fix that? Sometimes you close your arms down, just like a computer shuts down when it is on overload. You fold your arms because you don’t want to take in and or give out more information and you need to shut down to process it. When you’re ready you can open your arms to accept more information. One tip if you are bored at a meeting is to rest your full arms on the table reaching out toward the speaker in a symbolic reach and give them your eye contact and smile. Research indicates that audience’s energy and attention can improve the speaker’s animation.
5. You said the body often lifts up when someone is happy. If you're depressed and you notice that your body is going downward, can sitting up straight or lifting your head actually lift your mood (the same way that smiling when you’re sad can make you feel better)? Any time you change your body language and paralanguage you are potentially changing the chemicals that are being sent into your body. Lifting up your head, bringing your shoulders back, sitting up and smiling can change your mood in less than a fraction of a second. I have quite a bit of research on that and I am especially intrigued with the research on smiling.
6. We talked about several signs that show physical attraction. These are opening or approach me signals rather than pure attraction signals such as opening your palms or heart window to someone.
7. Is there some other type of body language that might show openness to someone like a new friend or a potential business partner? Turning your feet towards then. Woman sometimes when they are attracted tilt their head and play with their hair, while showing the palm. Guys sometimes increase their stance and puff up their chest.
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