Posted by Beverly on
June 27, 2010
1. You’ll feel better – even if you fake it
There’s no doubt that the “best” smiles are genuine. They light up your face, crinkle the corners of your eyes and produces positive physiological changes in your body temperature and heart rate. But consider research findings that even if the smile is mechanically produced, positive feelings still emerge. This study matched samples of people looking at cartoons. The first group ranked every cartoon as funnier than the second group. The only difference is that members of the first group were asked to hold a pencil crosswise between their back teeth. The simulated smile caused by the pencil between their teeth effected their emotion – and their perception of the cartoons as funnier.
2. You’ll be unforgettable
Why do some people make a lasting impression while others are quite forgettable? The answer may be in their smile.
Research from Duke University proves that we like and remember those who smile at us – and shows why we find them more memorable. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the Duke researchers found that the orbitofrontal cortices (a “reward center” in the brain) were more active when subjects were learning and recalling the names of smiling individuals.
3. You’ll encourage collaboration
According to research conducted reported by the British Psychological Society, positive and negative emotional responses systematically alter the use of language. Speak to a positive listener and people will likely use more abstractions and subjective impressions. But if people talk to a negative listener, they’ll probably stick to the relative security of objective facts and concrete details.
Researchers speculate that this is because the smiles and nods of a positive listener are interpreted as a sign of agreement and understanding, encouraging the speaker to provide more of their own opinions and speculations. By contrast, negative listeners provoke speakers to adopt a more hesitant and cautious thinking style.
4. You’ll improve your productivity
Charles Garfield, the author of Peak Performance, once coached the Russian Olympic weight-lifting team. Garfield noticed that when team members lifted to exhaustion, they would invariably grimace at the painful effort. In an experiment, he encouraged the athletes to smile when they got to that point of exhaustion. This seemingly minor difference enabled them to add 2-3 more reps to their performance.
No matter the task, when you grimace or frown while doing it, you are sending your brain the message, “This is really difficult. I should stop.” The brain then responds by sending stress chemicals into your bloodstream. And this creates a vicious circle: the more stressed you are, the more difficult the task becomes.
When you smile, your brain gets the message, “It’s not so bad. I can do this!”
5.You’ll positively contaminate others
Some nonverbal behaviors can bring out the best in people. Smiling is one of them, as it directly influences how other people respond. When you smile at someone, they almost always smile in return. And, because facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings, the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way.
Want to brighten your mood, make a lasting impression, encourage collaboration, lighten your work load, and positively influence others? Then smile – really smile. Think of someone who genuinely amuses or delights you. But if you can’t do that, then fake it . . . or hold a pencil in your mouth.
Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.
Posted by Beverly on
November 9, 2009
Guest Post by: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D
Two of your colleagues are talking in the hallway. You’d like to join the conversation, but you don’t know if you’ll be seen as a rude interruption or a welcome addition.
You can find out if you’re welcome or not – just by looking at their feet. Or so says Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., author of The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work.
According to Dr. Goman: “When you approach the twosome, you will be acknowledged in one of two ways. If the feet of your two colleagues stay in place and they twist only their upper torsos in your direction, they don’t really want you to join the conversation. But if their feet open to include you then you know that you are truly invited to participate”
And that’s only one of the messages you can get by looking at feet. A few others . . .
Whenever you are speaking with a co-worker who seems to be paying attention, and whose upper body is angled toward you, but whose legs and feet have turned toward the door – realize that the conversation is over. Her feet are telling you she’s ready to leave.
Foot positions are revealing even if someone’s legs are crossed. If the toe of the leg that is crossed is pointing towards you, the person is most likely interested in you. If the opposite leg is crossed, so the top toe is pointing away, they are probably withdrawing.
When people try to control their body language, they focus primarily on facial expressions and hand/arm gestures. And since the legs and feet are left unrehearsed, they are also where the truth can most often be found.
This was the case with a senior manager whose body language was open and confident as sat onstage being interviewed. Then someone brought up the topic of executive compensation. As the manager responded, his facial expressions and upper body gestures remained constant – but his “foot language” changed dramatically: From a comfortable, loose leg cross, he suddenly locked his ankles tightly together, pulled them back under his chair, and began to make tiny kicks with both feet. He then re-crossed his ankles and kicked his feet again. While the executive’s upper body continued to convey a sense of ease, his feet were telling an entirely different story – one of stress and anxiety.
Of course, feet and legs not only react to stressors and threats, they respond to positive emotions as well. Bouncing, tapping, wiggling feet are what professional poker players refer to as “happy feet” In poker it’s a high-confidence tell, a signal that the player’s hand is strong. There is a similar signal in business negotiations. If you see a lot of high-energy foot jiggling (or if you notice a slight bounce in the shoulders that is a result of the movement) you can almost always assume that the party involved is feeling pretty good about his bargaining position.
Dr Goman says that you may already be better than you know at reading feet. Studies show that observers have greater success judging a person’s real emotional state when they can see the entire body.
Posted by Beverly on
September 18, 2009
Guest post by: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D
A recent study from the University of Chicago found that the more gestures babies used at 14 months (shaking a head “no,” raising arms to be picked up, pointing at an object of interest, etc.), the more words they had in their vocabulary at 31/2 years old.
Which is no surprise to those of us who study body language. Here’ are a few facts I found while researching my book, “The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work”
Gesture and speech are so tightly connected that we can’t do one without the other. Brain imaging has shown that a region called Broca’s area, which is important for speech production, is active not only when we’re talking, but when we wave our hands. And as we grow into adulthood, gesturing becomes more complex, more nuanced, and more interesting.
Did you know . . .
? A blind person talking to another blind person will use gestures.
? All of us use gestures when talking on the telephone.
? When people are passionate about what they’re saying, their gestures become more animated.
? Studies have found that when you communicate through active gesturing, you tend to be evaluated as warm, agreeable, and energetic, while remaining still makes you be seen as logical, cold, and analytic.
? On the other hand, over-gesturing with flailing arms (especially when hands are raised above the shoulders) can make you appear out of control, less believable and less powerful.
? Some gestures have an agree-upon meaning to a group and are consciously used instead of words. (The “thumbs up” gesture in North America is one example). These gestures very by culture – and what is acceptable in one culture can be rude or insulting in another.
? Many deception cues are subconscious gestures – like the hand to mouth or nose gestures which are typically use when lying. (And, by the way, those same gestures are often displayed when listening to someone you don’t believe.)
? Pacifying gestures are used to help us deal with stress: Any self touching can be calming. You may rub your legs, pull at your collar, play with your hair, rub your neck, or even cross your arms in a kind of “self-hug”
? Open palm gestures indicate candor, while hidden hands (or hands in pockets) signals that the person has something to hide or doesn’t want to participate in a conversation.
? Low confidence is often shown by wringing hands and interlacing fingers.
? High confidence can be displayed by a steepling gesture (palms separated and fingers touching). You’ll see this used most often by politicians, executives and professors.
So, remember, it’s okay to talk with your hands – as long as you know what they’re saying!
Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.
Kinsey Consulting Services