A business owner is someone who manages other people thanks to his or her ability or position. With that being said, body language plays an important part in how well people perceive a business owner. A business owner’s body language should convey that he or she can manage or keep things in control. Whether they're aware of it or not, people evaluate a business owner’s ' body language to determine how confident, trustworthy, and credible they are.
If you're a business owner, you might be thinking about what your body language is communicating to others about the type of manager you are. Check out these seven ways to improve body language for business owners.
1. Keep Your Nonverbal Communication Under Control
As a business owner, you want others to trust and believe in what you're saying. To do this, your nonverbal cues have to match the words you're speaking. One way to do this is to be still. Business owners that move around, fidget, and pace don't look like they have things under control. From these actions, people might assume that the individual is uncertain, nervous, or dealing with an internal conflict. Entrepreneurs that can be still and calm, on the other hand, display power and confidence more effectively.
Also, make sure any nonverbal communication you use feels natural to you. If you constantly pretend to be a loud, expressive extrovert instead of the more reserved introvert you are (or vice versa), this can have a negative effect on your happiness. It might also come across as disingenuous. One way to avoid this is to determine what type of business owner you want to be and to seek out body language that helps convey this message.
2. Make a Good First Impression
When you first meet someone, what is one of the first things you look at? More than likely, it's their face. A good entrepreneur will draw you in with his or her eyes. Remind yourself to always look people in the eyes, as it shows you're interested in what they're saying. It also shows openness so they'll want to talk as well as listen to what you have to say. If making eye contact is something you struggle with, then make it a habit to notice the eye color of people you meet.
Once you make eye contact, then you can give the person you're interacting with a smile. Smiling is an immediate indication to people that you're friendly and approachable. In return, the person you're interacting with will likely smile back. Business owners should also have strong handshakes. A strong handshake is one in which you keep your hand vertical and give one to three pumps. You might also give a firm and confident handshake when you are saying your goodbyes or after closing an important deal.
3. Examine Your Hand Gestures
Researchers have shown that people view business owners who use hand gestures more favorably than those who don't. Hand gestures tend to make business owners seem warm, energetic, and agreeable. Business owners who don't use hand gestures often appear unfriendly and cold. Some hand gestures business owners should try to avoid include hiding their hands, pointing fingers, and over gesturing. Hiding one's hands, for instance, can make them seem untrustworthy. Lots of finger-pointing while speaking might make people feel like they're getting reprimanded by a parent or bullied.
Use hand gestures appropriately to convey enthusiasm while speaking. However, don't go overboard; excessive use of hand gestures can make you look erratic and less powerful. When using hand gestures, keep your arms at waist height and bent to a 45-degree angle. Gestures and arms at this height help keep leaders grounded, energized, and focused. Also, try to remember to keep your hands open rather than tightly clenched. Keeping your hands open can remind you to remain open-minded and to let go of tension when you're interacting with others.
4. Pay Attention and Listen
Many distractions can arise that will pull your attention away from the person who is speaking to you. You might get a text message or a phone call, or you might overhear another conversation nearby. If you begin to give these distractions attention while someone is speaking to you, then that individual won't feel valued. You want people to be able to come to you and freely tell you what's on their mind. For this reason, you want to face the person you're speaking with and make eye contact.
Display nonverbal cues, such as leaning in and nodding your head, that show you're listening and engaged in the conversation. Try mimicking the person you're communicating with if you're unsure of how to position your body. Do it subtly, however, so they don't think you're acting strangely. If they tilt their head to the side or make their eyes bigger and maintain direct eye contact while speaking, you should do the same. The other person will likely feel more comfortable and connected to you.
5. Be Mindful of Your Posture
The way you position yourself in a conversation has an effect on how people perceive you. For instance, placing your body in expansive, powerful-looking poses for about two minutes causes a hormone change. It raises your testosterone levels, which are associated with power and dominance. In return, your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) become lower.
An example of one of these power poses includes placing your feet up on a desk and leaning back with your hands behind your head. Or, you can stretch your arms and legs open while in a standing position. These positions also work in situations when you don't feel confident and secure. Assuming these positions to appear powerful will begin to make you actually feel like you're in control.
6. Evaluate and Practice Your Body Language
To improve your body language and increase your positive interpersonal interactions, look at what you're doing currently. When you speak, do you use hand gestures? What was the eye color of the last person you engaged with? If you have to give a speech, note whether you keep your hands opened or clenched during your presentation.
Noticing what you're doing now can give you insight into what you might need to improve. Once you know what body language you need to work on, you should practice it. Make a plan for how you're going to improve your body language. Ask friends and colleagues who know you well how they feel when interacting with you and if they notice any differences.
7. Learn How to Read the Body Language of Others
Make it a point to notice whether others are engaged or disengaged when you're speaking. Doing so can help you figure out how to turn a conversation around so it ends positively. Is the other person distracted or not making eye contact? Are they facing away from you?
Now that you know different types of body language and what they mean, you can begin to improve upon yours as a business owner. Decide what message you want to convey when interacting with others. Change your body language as you see fit to match the situation you're in. Begin to read others' body language so you can adapt and become a better business owner.