By Vicki Wrona, PMP:

A message that is repeated often enough eventually becomes the truth. It’s a common tactic of marketers, fame-seekers, and many politicians – They take the concept of “Fake it Til You Make it” to a different level. Here, I’d like to expand on that saying.

Do you ever find yourself angry with something or someone and need a way to change your mood? If you are upset, sad, or experiencing a negative emotion that needs to go away, just smile. You may feel silly but your brain cannot handle the crossed signals coming into it. Your mind is clearly upset but your face is smiling. Within a few minutes, your mood will lighten, and you will find yourself able to deal with that difficult person in a rational way rather than emotionally and negatively.

I once worked for a telemarketing firm. “Smile and dial” they would tell us while we worked toward our goal of 200 calls an hour. If you smile while talking on the phone, that positive emotion comes through in your voice and the person on the other end will pick up on that. Do this especially if you are upset or dreading the conversation.

As covered in Whole Living Magazine, researchers at Northwestern University found that simply putting your body in certain positions triggers hormonal changes. Positioning your body in a posture of power to act more confidently raises levels of testosterone, a hormone which makes us take action, while also reducing cortisol, a stress hormone. This includes both sitting and standing positions, such as sitting with your hands behind your head and one ankle on the other knee or walking with your eyes focused straight ahead and head held high. Using this knowledge wisely can help you boost your performance at work and in life.

If you are working on a task or problem and just want to give up, give yourself the ability to be more persistent by crossing your arms. Your brain will pay attention to the body language more than your inner negative voices wanting you to quit.

You can also sit up straight or stand tall to boost your confidence. What I have found to work well is to sit or stand tall and talk with assuredness on what I DO know. That helps overcome nervous energy when making a big presentation or negotiating with a tough negotiator, such as your boss or customer. I’m not suggesting that we all become the cocky and annoying person who acts all-knowing and over-confident, sometimes due to lack of awareness and sometimes to cover a lack of knowledge and/or possible insecurity. I don’t want anyone acting like they know everything when they don’t.

Your mom may have used this technique when she put her hands on her hips to stand firm and make a point. At that point, you knew she was not budging.

Another interesting trick is to nod your head to increase positive feelings. Your body language reflects your inner state, so if you are feeling positive when talking, you may start to nod your head. It also turns out that if consciously nod your head while talking, you will feel more positive. It works in both directions.

If you don’t quite know what to say and want to encourage the other person to provide more information and continue to speak, you can either put your chin in your hand in a thoughtful pose or lightly stroke your chin. If you also nod your head at the same time, you encourage the other person to continue speaking and to agree.  This will help you gather more information and collect your thoughts before responding. Again, not only are you encouraging the other person to participate, you are convincing yourself to act reflectively when you need it.

I hope these tips help when you find yourself in a difficult, negative or uncomfortable situation.

How have you applied any of these body language techniques? If you have not used this trick, how can you apply it?

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