Have you ever been at a business meeting where somebody new walks in and within seconds you have made your mind up that you don’t like the look of them?
I’m sure everyone can recall memories of instant dislike for someone new. On the opposite side of this paradigm is the worrying thought that others have probably negatively judged you too! This is quite a disconcerting thought: that you have been written off before saying a word. In the sprawling world of business how many times have these snap decisions influenced what supplier gets awarded the contract or what interview hopeful gets the nod?
We must look to our evolution to help shine a light on this enigma. In the distant past, before language was as omnipresent as it is now, humans needed to make very quick decisions about survival based on what they saw – is this approaching person a friend or an enemy? Although we like to think we are more sophisticated than that now, our reptilian brain still calls the shots. If you are sat at your desk and the door behind you slams shut, you are compelled to turn around – just in case. Life is still about remaining in the gene pool.
So is your likeability a forgone conclusion? No, it is not. Displaying unthreatening behaviours will increase your chances of being judged a friend, not an enemy. We are communicating things about ourselves all the time through our clothes, our gestures and expressions. Evidence of this is visible in our everyday life. Fake smiles, disengaged posture during a meeting or disapproving eye contact all tell us about someone’s true attitude or emotion.
Many of us will sleepwalk through our interactions not consciously auditing what information we communicate. This is ill-advised. Is your body language inclusive, collaborative and open or authoritarian, hostile and closed? Chances are you haven’t thought about it. To give yourself the greatest appeal and reduce “I don’t like the look of that person” instances, ask yourself, what does my body language say about me?
If you are interesting in learning more about non verbal communication, please enquire about our Mastering Body Language programme, run by Richard Mayson.
Read more about body language in this blog: Why leaders still need voice and body language.