How To Be Persuasive With Your Body Language Whether we realize it or not, we all try to be persuasive. Follow these four body language hacks to be more persuasive.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When it comes to persuasion, likeability is key.
Consider the last time someone persuaded you to do something. Odds are you appreciated and trusted this individual. I would also assume that they did not use pushy language or forceful gestures. And, while you might be unable to pinpoint what they did to persuade you specifically, I'm sure the person was likable.
In 2021, Mariam Younan and Kristy Martire conducted two studies to examine whether an expert's likeability affected jurors' opinions in civil and criminal trials. The results were conclusive: less likable experts were considerably less persuasive than likable experts.
Another thing to remember is that you are constantly trying to persuade. You are trying to win people over in almost every interaction with coworkers, potential clients, and friends. This is not manipulative. It is innate and natural. Consciously or subconsciously, you are doing things that make you more or less likable.
Body language is a significant and often unconscious part of likeability and persuasion. This is good news for someone striving to be more persuasive and likable. Lucky for you, you can change many straightforward things about your body language that will automatically enhance your likeability.
1. Tilting your head
When you feel safe, you naturally tilt your head. The next time you are with close family members or a loved one, observe the number of times someone tilts their head without realizing it. You will also notice that we often tilt our heads when we 'coo' at babies.
This behavior is part of our limbic brain response. A head tilt exposes your neck and, therefore, your jugular vein. This puts you in a vulnerable position that becomes a subconscious sign of respect and trust. We display this vulnerability around babies to make them feel at ease. We also send this message to those we love to convey confidence and comfort.
When you seek to persuade someone, they are more likely to see your perspective if they feel safe. Tilting your head is a simple way to demonstrate your attentiveness and care. This simple gesture communicates to other individuals that you are listening rather than thinking about other things.
Isopraxis, or "body echoing," is a phenomenon where people replicate another person's body language. If you notice multiple people have their heads tilted in a conversation, chances are they are more engaged, and the conversation will last longer than usual.
2. Standing with legs crossed
If you feel uneasy or unsteady, you presumably plant your feet firmly to maintain balance. This same desire to stay grounded naturally happens, whether near the edge of a tall building or in an uncomfortable social situation. Why?
Both situations above provide a threat that activates a person's fight or flight safeguards. You will notice that the planting of your feet is one way your body unconsciously protects itself.
The opposite is also true. You will have no problem crossing your legs when you feel totally comfortable. The instability of standing on foot is only possible if you are totally safe. As a result, crossing your legs is another simple way to signify to others that you are grounded and non-threatening.
Isopraxis will also lead the person you are speaking with to mirror you. As they cross their own legs, their defenses will soften. As with head tilting, this action will help a conversation last longer. A longer conversation means more time to communicate face-to-face, which is immensely helpful in building rapport in business and personal relationships.
3. Simply smiling
Smiling is a powerful charisma builder.
Whether you realize it or not, your emotions are infectious. This includes happiness, which is often transferred through a smile. Just think about it: It is very hard to frown at a smiling person.
When someone smiles, the neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and increasing happiness are released. Therefore, smiling at someone during an interaction improves your own mood, which increases your charisma, and helps the other person feel more positive emotions.
When someone attributes positive experiences or conversations with you, likability and trust increase and individuals will want to spend more time with you and truly listen to you. These attributes will make you a more persuasive person in all your relationships.
In other words, do not underestimate the power of a smile.
4. Pointing feet
I have always found it fascinating to watch the direction of people's feet in social situations. Often, the direction a person's feet point indicates where their mind is focused. If a person's feet are pointed at you, this is a great sign that they are interested in what you are saying. However, if their feet are pointed away from you, they are probably close to exiting the conversation or group.
Like the previous body language gestures, pointing your feet towards a person you're interacting with will also encourage them to continue talking. It is another effective way to signify your interest in the person you are talking to. This will help you persuade them to continue talking.
Try to observe these four natural behaviors in yourself and others. You might be surprised to discover what your body language communicates to those around you. You can use these opportunities to learn more about the people you interact with and how you present yourself. The more likable you can present yourself, the more persuasive you will be.