There is no doubt that the most important and powerful form of communication is our body language. The actual percentages really are hard to know, but in simple terms, your body language, in most situations, is your most powerful way to unconsciously influence other people.
I want to introduce you to a simple but incredibly effective tool; ‘act as if’.
Act as if, will challenge you to think about how you show up every day with your most powerful form of communication — your body language. What would other people say about you in terms of how you carry yourself?
What would they say about how confident they perceive you to be?
How would they describe you when you enter a room? Are you happy about what the answer to that question would be?
The great news is that you can very quickly change how you influence people at an unconscious level. It all starts with three words. These are the greatest three words! These are the three words that fundamentally changed the course of my life as I look back. Those three words are act as if.
Let me explain. If you want to be the person that you would really like to be, let me ask you a question — how would that person act? Act as if you are that person and act as if you would do the things that they would do. I want you to watch how change starts to take place.
If you were going to be a great leader, how would you walk?
How would you hold yourself, how would you carry yourself?
What books would you read? What would you think about?
What sort of television shows would you watch? What things would you not watch? What things would you not cloud your mind with if you were going to be an outstanding leader?
How do the best leaders dress, how do they hold themselves, how do they carry themselves? How do they move?
By the same token, if you were going to be a great salesperson, how would you walk? How would you hold yourself, how would you carry yourself? What books would you read? What would you think about? What sort of television shows would you watch? What things would you not watch, what things would you not cloud your mind with if you were going to be an outstanding salesperson? How do the best salespeople dress, how do they hold themselves, how do they carry themselves? How do they move?
It is no different with parenting. If you were going to be a great parent, what sort of things would you read, what sort of things would you watch? How do great parents dress? What sort of activities do great parents do? Act as if you are that person and change will instantly start to take place. You can have absolute clarity about who you really want to be and how they would act accordingly.
Getting started with act as if
I want to share with you a series of simple shifts to get you on the right path. I am going to ask you to hold up a mirror and examine your personal brand and how well you are doing at attracting others. I want you to grade yourself in each of the areas that I am about to share with you. These areas can be improved instantly, so I want you to score yourself on a scale between one and 10 in each of these four key areas:
- Eye contact
Let’s look at them in detail.
How do you move and how do you hold yourself? There is a way that successful people move. There is a way the best leaders sit in meetings and conferences. I see so many young people and the terrible posture that they assume. Consider the advice given to young people, ‘Dress for where you’re going, not where you are.’ I say: ‘Posture for where you’re going, not for where you are.’ Act as if!
The mind–body loop is alive and well. If you watch someone with excellent posture, they are alert and awake with their body language. Make no mistake, the mind follows suit.
When the body is alert and awake, the mind is alert and awake as well.
2. Eye contact
Do you believe that eyes are the windows to the soul?
Eyes are amazing. I can be standing on stage and catch someone’s eye and I can feel the intensity with which they are listening. I can feel that they are connected to what is being said. Eyes create an instant connection.
I always tell audiences that next to the words eye contact, I want them to write down the words, be present. When people are present, they naturally look at people.
Now remember, I am not talking about incessantly staring at someone to the extent that you are beginning to freak them out. It is not about big saucer eyes that start to look like crazy eyes! Instead, it is about appropriate eye contact and connection that demonstrate you are present in the conversation you are having.
This is a very simple one. How often do you smile? Some people are smilers. Some people smile all the time. They walk in the office and they’re smiling. They sit in a meeting and they’re smiling. They go for a performance review and they’re smiling. They are good at it!
For most people, the place to be is probably somewhere in between smiling all the time and never smiling. The bottom line is that people want to spend more time with others that make them feel good. There is no quicker way to make someone else feel good about themselves than to smile at them. It is also the quickest way to make you feel better. For the purpose of influence, I think it worth repeating: the quickest way to make someone feel good about themselves is to smile at them.
Gratitude really drives the bus on the first three shifts to make — posture, eye contact, smile. In other words, without gratitude, the other three may feel forced. I like the participants at the conferences that I speak at to have fun and exaggerate the first three shifts. They walk around with exaggerated posture, crazy eyes and toothy smiles. They have fun, but this is obviously not it. This won’t influence anybody. The reason for that is that they are coming from the outside in, instead of from the inside out. When you drive gratitude from the inside first, the shifts on the outside happen very naturally.
Do you spend the majority of your time focused on what you do have, or do you spend most of the time focused on the things that you don’t have? Do you spend enough time appreciating the things you love, or do you spend too much time thinking about the things that are missing? Ultimately, do you spend the majority of your time thinking about the things that are right, or do you spend most of your time thinking about the things that are wrong?
Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, I want you to notice something about yourself. When you first wake up in the morning, I want you to notice what the first seven things you think about are. The most important words of all are the words you say to yourself, about yourself, when you are alone by yourself. What are the first seven things that you say to yourself?
For some people the first seven things they think about are things like, ‘Stupid alarm clock!’ ‘My head!’ ‘Why did I drink so much last night?’ ‘I have to stop drinking during the week.’ It’s not my head, it’s my back!’ Then they turn around and look at their partner lying in bed, still asleep, groan and grumble under their breath and wonder what they ever saw in them in the first place as they stumble into the bathroom.
More thoughts then go through their head: ‘I wish we lived in a different house.’ ‘I wish we had enough money to renovate this bathroom.’ ‘I don’t want to take the train!’ ‘I don’t want to take the bus!’ ‘I wish we had a better car.’ ‘I don’t want to go and fight the traffic!’ ‘My job sucks!’
Are the first seven things you say in the morning negative, or are they positive?
Remember, the most important words are the words you say to yourself. In the course of your day ask yourself, ‘Is the body language I am displaying right now useful? If I was going to be the person that I wanted to be, is this the body language I would be displaying?’
Act as if. These are three great words to anchor your success.
By Chris Helder
Best-selling author and Australian keynote speaker. www.chrishelder.com
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