Are your gestures and words in the same language?

Using body language to make a winning first impression


Within the first few seconds of meeting someone new, we make a judgement. Are they friend of foe?

From that moment on, everything they do or say is seen through that filter, according to Mark Bowden, author of Winning Body Language. Regardless of their behaviour in the future, your opinion will always be slightly biassed towards your friend or foe decision.

This is why it is crucial that you are able to make the best possible first impression – and it’s particularly important for those expected to give a presentation or promote a project in the workplace.

If the individual or group that you are presenting to decide that you are unlikable in that first moment, they will be on the lookout for any behaviours that support their judgement. From then on, any small gesture you make could be read in a way that cements their opinion of you and, by default, what they think of your proposal.

The ability to control your body language is one of the most important communications skills you can learn. In fact, even the most subtle change to your gestures can have a significant influence on how people respond to and understand your presentation.

Are you speaking in a foreign language?

According to research from the University of Colgate, your gestures can help or hinder the understanding of your speech.

As part of this study, neuroscientists tested how hand gestures were related to speech and comprehension. Their research turned up some surprising results.

In fact, the study found that when a speaker’s gestures did not match what was being said, the listeners’ brains dipped into a valley called N400. This area of the brain is the same location our minds wander into when listening to nonsensical language.

Essentially, this means that if your gestures are inconsistent with your speech, you are no longer making sense. Which is why it is important to be mindful of your gestures – to make sure your body and your brain are speaking the same language.

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