Why You Should Practice Confident Body Language

Body language can communicate information that is beyond what is being said (semantics, the meaning of words) and heard (auditory input), information such as context. According to this discussion’s background video, Your Body May Shape Who You Are by Amy Cuddy (2012),  she suggests that even if you don’t feel confident, practicing confident body language can increase your self-esteem and make you feel better about yourself. Some of the good body languages you can practice to make yourself more confident are (Cunic, 2018): 

  • Eye contact- having direct eye with another contact denotes interest and can be a sign of truthfulness.
  • Leaning forward– when someone leans forward, it may indicate attention and interest, try this when you are listening to someone. 
  • Standing or sitting straight– this occupies more space than slouching and taking up more space is a sign of power. You can practice this while waiting in line or while sitting down doing homework. 
  • Chin up– walking and talking with your chin up is a sign of confidence as your face is more exposed. One can easily practice this by avoiding looking at the ground. 

Another good way to practice confident body language is to be aware of body language that may convey uncertainty.  These are some of the body languages you should be aware of and avoid:

  • Fidgeting- this is a sign of nervousness and lack of power (Cain, 2018). 
  • Defensive possess- such as crossing your arms, hiding your hands, or holding objects too close to the body convey uncertainty, and mistrust (Cass, 2017). 
  • Forgetting to smile– one way to demonstrate confidence, openness, warmth, and energy is to smile, forgetting to do so demonstrates the exact opposite (Cain, 2018). 

Body language adds another dimension to communication as it informs listeners underlying messages that may not be communicated from the words spoken and heard. By practicing confident body language you can prime yourself to be confident or be perceived as confident. You should also be aware and avoid the body language that conveys uncertainty, hostility, or untrustworthiness. By practicing good body language and avoiding the bad ones, you’ve made a conscious decision to be confident.   

Reference: 

Cain, A. (2018, April 04). 11 horrible body language mistakes that are hard to quit but you’ll be glad you did. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/bad-body-language-habits-2017-12 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Cass, W. (2017). Influence: How to raise your profile, manage your reputation, and get noticed. West Sussex, United Kingdom. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 

Cuddy, A. (2012, June). Your body language may shape who you are. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are

Cunic, A. (2018, January 08). 10 ways to have more confident body language: How to improve your self-esteem Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/ten-ways-to-have-more-confident-body-language-3024855 (Links to an external site.)

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Conversation Flow + Halo Effect = Engaging Conversations

Part of being a great communicator is being able to establish engaging conversations that result in positive outcomes.

There is this idea called conversation flow, which basically means to resonate or have friendly rapport with others in a conversation which is essential in developing a close social connection that leads to positive outcomes during conversations (Whitbourne, 2017).  One way to create a conversation flow is to find commonality in others. By finding commonality, the halo effect takes action. 

The halo effect is a cognitive bias where a person makes ambiguous assumptions about person, place, or thing based on concrete information (Kahneman, 2013). When two people find commonality in each other, let’s say that find out they were both grew up in the same city, they will naturally start liking each other more than if they didn’t. This is because commonality with others creates a positive association. 

Finding commonality triggers the halo effect, which caters to the beginning stages of conversation flow, which is essential to having good conversations. Having a good conversation will most likely lead to positive results such as being hired after a job interview or scoring a date after flirting with a potential partner.  

The are other ways to cater to conversation flow, things like active listening and mimicry also promote conversation flow. The idea of conversation flow is to create close social connections that will promote engaging communication that will favor positive outcomes. 

References: 

Kahneman, Daniel (2013). Thinking, fast and slow (1st ed ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. pp. 82–88.

Whitebourne, S. K. (2017, July, 08). The key to better conversations. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201707/the-key-better-conversations

Active Listening the Key to Engagement

Being able to communicate effectively is an essential skill to have, especially conversations with people that are engaging and that can create a sense of trust and friendship. 

The best advice to become a more engaging person to talk to is to become an active listener. This means giving a person your full attention, letting them finish their thought, display behaviors that show you are listening (like nodding your head or providing verbal feedback), being actually interested, asking questions, and clarifying (Ishak, 2016).  

I remember a recent conversation with a friend who wanted to vent about his current relationship. The conversation was mostly one way as he didn’t allow me to become interested in it by not letting me finish sentences that were designed to ask questions and clarify. I quickly lost interest in the conversation as it started to become an announcement or instead of a conversation. 

My friend could have improved our conversation if he had only shown the same interest in listening to his story as he did with my feedback. However, because I felt it was not a conversation, I quickly lost interest and only provided faux feedback so that he could finish his story and I can move on with my day.  

The idea of active listening is a two-way street. Both parties need to engage in each other’s stories so that neither party loses interest in the other. Once interest is lost, it’s pretty much a waste of time because the quality of information that is being transferred or created is sub-par. 

Reference:

Ishak R. (2016 July 29). 11 ways to be more engaging in your conversations & make friends. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/articles/169621-11-ways-to-be-more-engaging-in-your-conversations-make-more-friends

Speech Patterns: The Proposition-to-Proof versus The Problem-Solution Method

Knowing different methods for creating persuasive speeches is useful so that you can use a variety of styles while being aware of each style’s drawbacks. The two methods I’ll be discussing will be the proposition-to-proof method and the problem-solution method. 

The proposition-to-proof method uses a pattern by which the speaker begins with a statement of one’s proposition, then follow with proofs that support it. For example, if your purpose is to influence others to vote for a specific proposal, you would begin by stating, “Vote for Proposition H, a ballot proposition that reduces the penalties for criminals of non-violent crimes.” Then you would continue with reasons that support your proposition such as facts and logic. For example, you may say something like:

  • “We spend more money on building prisons than schools.” 
  • “Criminals of non-violent crimes such as stealing are people of color of color, due to systematic discrimination in our laws”
  • “The victim of non-violent crimes such as drug abuse is themselves, by further punishing them with harsh penalties such as prison sentences, we are further victimizing them and creating burdens to society instead of rehabilitating them back as productive member of society”

One drawback to this method is that the speaker may not discuss the opposite position in the first place, in our example’s case it would be why penalties are TOO severe for non-violent crimes. This is known as playing devil’s advocate, a position in which someone takes that they don’t necessarily agree with for the sake of exploring the topic further or debate (Smith, 2017).

I believe it is necessary to play devil’s advocate when giving a speech so that your listener’s can get  both angles of a story. Then once you are done discussing the opposite position (by playing devil’s advocate) you can take the devil’s mask off and refute all those points. 

The Problem-Solution Method

Another method that public speakers like to use is the problem-solution method of public speaking introduces a problem and discusses the solutions for it (Brent, 2018). At first glance, it may seem similar to the proposition-to-proof method, however, if you observe both methods clearly, you’ll notice that they are opposites of each other. The proposition-to-proof-method provides a call to action or solution, then discusses the problem, while the problem-solution method does the opposite by discussing a problem and then discussing the solution.

One drawback to problem solution method is that the solution may be a false dilemma. A false dilemma is a fallacy in which the speaker only provides two solutions to a problem,  when in reality there may exist other options (Hendrick’s, 2018). This A or B thinking is dangerous as it tricks listeners into thinking that there are only two possible solutions to a problem, which then disregards other possible solutions that may exist.

Conclusion

It is important to know different structures of persuasive speech so that one can identify the drawbacks to each and be prepared to tackle them when they are brought up. The proposition-to-proof method suffers from not playing devil’s advocate and the problem-solution method may be weakened by the false dilemma fallacy. In fact, both methods could suffer from either of those drawbacks. The key is to know how speeches are structured and be prepared to handle drawbacks when they are brought up.

References:

Brent, M. (2018, January 16). What are the five organizational patterns for public speaking?. Retrieved from https://bizfluent.com/info-8540323-five-organizational-patterns-public-speaking.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Hendricks, S. (2018, February). 10 logical mistakes you make every day, and what to do instead. Retrieved from http://bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/ten-logical-mistakes-you-make-everyday-and-what-to-instead (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

“Persuade with power.” (2018) Lunch Toastmasters. Retrieved from http://www.lucantoastmasters.com/competent-communication/persuade-with-power/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Smith, S. (2017, July 27). Using the devil’s advocate” to your advantage, even when sometimes it feels insane. Retrieved from https://itscoffeeti.me/using-the-devils-advocate-to-your-advantage-even-when-sometimes-it-feels-insane-435788c9c4b7