To elevate your levels of charisma, body language matters far more than your words do.
Whilst you were watching the last 30 seconds of this video, were you aware that your eyelids were blinking past your eyes? Did you notice the weight of your tongue in your mouth? Did you hear that car drive past the window?
Without realising it your body sends out receives signals of the single second. Just like a breath and heartbeat the signals are part of the millions of bodily functions controlled by our subconscious mind. The same thing happens when we are observing an individual, there is too much information coming in first process consciously and so goes to the subconscious.
For us wanting to elevate our levels of charisma this has two consequences –
- One – Because we can’t consciously control all our body language, we can’t just broadcast what we want at will. To do this, to get all the signals right, we need to simultaneously control thousands of elements and it’s just not practical. However, if we could direct our subconscious appropriately and put that into a charismatic state, everything else would work out further down the processing signal line.
- Two – The second consequence is that our body language expresses our mental state whether we would like it to or not. Our voice, posture and other elements of our body language reflect our mental and emotional position every second. Because we are not in control this and never will be, whatever is in our head will show up in our body language.
Even if we control the main expression of our face or how we hold our arms or legs, we still have split-second micro-expressions which flash across a face. For more content on micro-expressions check out the non-verbal communication workshop in the Sales School. If there is any incongruence between our main expression and our micro-expressions, people we are communicating with get a gut feeling that something is not quite right.
You know the difference between a real smile and a fake one. And obviously there is difference between a social “hello” smile and a true, “I’m not seeing you in years and I love you” smile.
Therefore, if our internal state is anti-charismatic there is no way your willpower can make up for it. Sooner or later your real thoughts and feelings will show through.
On the other hand, if your internal state is charismatic, the right body language will flow effortlessly. Therefore, this is the first step in learning charisma and it will make up most of what the rest of this workshop is about, developing the various mental states that will produce charismatic body language and behaviours on demand.
CHANGING YOUR EXTERNAL BODY LANGUAGE
One of the keys to changing your external body language to make you appear more charismatic is having the ability to manipulate your internal world. The fact is your mind can’t tell fact from fiction.
For example, have you ever felt your heart racing during a thriller or horror movie? Now of course consciously you know that it’s just a movie, no one is going to jump out from behind the sofa and grab hold of you, but most people can experience the real within a scary movie.
You know that they are just actors on screen you are pretending to be murdered, you know that it’s not real blood and guts that are falling out of their waist as they’re attacked but your brain sends you into a fight or flight mode and starts releasing adrenaline into your system anyway.
Alternatively, stop and take a second to think about your favourite piece of music. How does that make you feel?
Alternatively, stop and take a second to think about your favourite piece of music. How does that make you feel? Now imagine having a bucket of ice cold water dumped on top your head as you stood there naked. Does this make you want to shiver?
Of course, all of these events are imaginary yet your mind produces a very real physical reaction to them. This is because your brain cannot distinguish between your imagination and reality and so your body ends up reacting the same way.
In medicine, this incredible effect is called the placebo effect. Patients are given pretend pills and told that they’re receiving real ones. In an incredible number of cases patients giving the placebo still experience real-world improvements in their medical condition. This is because of the mind tricking the body into thinking it’s real, and it’s a great example of how remarkably powerful our imaginations can be.
We’ll come back to mental states in a future video, but for now let’s just touch on body language specifically.
Words typically ignite people’s cognitive minds, the logical side of the brain. This part of the brain gets to work on understanding the word’s meaning whilst body language, in contrast, is affected on an emotional level. As business guru Alan Weiss likes to say “logic makes people think. Emotion makes them act.” The question is, which do you want your prospect to do? Obviously affecting both is the way to influence them.
A study showed that when giving negative performance reviews to employees, they were accompanied by positive body language, employees receive them far better than if they received positive reviews, delivered with negative body language.
Harvard business review
Body language in business has been well studied, for example the Harvard business review showed that when giving negative performance reviews to employees, they were accompanied by positive body language, employees receive them far better than if they received positive reviews, delivered with negative body language. Our tendency to react to how something is said more than what was said seems to be even more elevated in high stakes situations such as sales calls and business negotiations.
So how can we leverage some of this to improve our ability to win new business? The first thing to think about is conscious mirroring. Have you ever noticed that when people have been married for many years they often end up looking like each other? It is a well-documented phenomenon that as we spend time together, individuals adapt to people’s body language. This includes facial expressions and how people hold that posture. This tendency to mimic the body language of others is called a limbic resonance, it’s essentially is hardwired into the human brain.
Imitating someone’s body language is an easy way to establish trust and rapport.
Imitating someone’s body language is an easy way to establish trust and rapport. This technique which is often called mirroring, it’s a conscious application or something that charismatic people do instinctively. When you mirror someone’s body language you activate the instinct trust and liking in their brains stop this is due to a certain class of neurons called oscillators which coordinate people physically by regulating how and where their bodies move.
Countless studies from across the world have found that mirroring someone’s body language can get them to pick up your dropped items, give you a better deal in a negotiation and mirroring even makes you more attractive to other individuals.
So why not try this. Copy the way an individual in front of you holds their head, how they place their feet on the ground, how they shift their weight in the seat. Interestingly, all you have to do imagine that they are sat in a mirror opposite you. So, if they move their right hand you must move your left for example.
Clearly, we want to be natural about this. Be selective and only do what feels natural to you, for instance if they are wearing a skirt and they cross their legs appropriately, and you’re a dude in trousers, don’t try and mimic this. If they make a huge gesture, and swing their arms in the air, you only have to make a little one to mirror them, you don’t need to do anything that is out of your typical comfort zone. Finally, you can leave a few seconds before you move from one position to another. Basically, don’t try too hard to do it else they’ll think you’re insane.
Final point on this, don’t try and copy someone if they have negative body language. If their arms are crossed, there sat back in their seats, their tapping their leg with nerves, don’t copy any of these things.
In this scenario we want to lead them rather than copy them. Due to mirror neurons within the brain, that have the function of pushing us towards the emotions and body language naturally of those around us, if we have strong positive body language, and hold it for long enough, they will fall into our frame or copy our body language rather than us copy them. You can use this to pull someone out of a negative state and this is incredibly important if you are negotiating or trying to influence an individual. The more negative they are, the more likely they can be stubborn and not change their point of view during a conversation.