Body Language That Automatically Raises Executive Presence

Body Language That Automatically Raises Executive Presence


Mixed messages or ones that fly right past your radar screen can weaken your effectiveness in business and undermine your executive presence (EP). Unfortunately, many leaders take communication too literally and make the mistake of not reading what is silently said between the lines. Knowing how to understand body language taps into a whole new level of perception, and can also give you a new dimension of communication to leverage for greater success and executive presence impact.

Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

EQ and EP are closely connected. The better you are at reading a person’s emotions the more effectively you can empathize with them, inspire them, and lead them. But if you misread those important emotional indicators it can backfire.

No matter what a person says with their words, it is almost impossible to mask how their emotional state or feelings are expressed through visible indicators such as posture, eye movement, or eye contact.

Pay closer attention to what the body says and you’ll automatically understand more about a person’s emotional state. By enhancing your ability to decode body language, in other words, your EQ goes up and your EP is strengthened.

Cross-Cultural Communications

But violate a person’s space, even accidentally, and it can destroy their trust in you and whatever rapport you have worked so hard to establish.

Normally Americans like to maintain about two feet of distance, especially between strangers or while doing business versus the proximity that’s appropriate amongst friends.

The best way to understand this spatial issue so that you don’t make a mistake is to role play with a colleague. Have them move incrementally closer until you feel uncomfortable.

Where this becomes particularly sensitive is in cross-cultural dealings. In that case you may need to consult someone who is well-versed in the culture that is foreign to you, to learn how to measure the unwritten distance you are expected to keep.

Be a Body Reading Negotiator

As a regular component of your executive presence development and communications training, learn to study facial expressions, track gestures, and notice eye movement.

Doing this while spending time with people will enable you to also identify the more unique and revealing “tells” that each individual telegraphs through body language.

Ask a trusted friend to also reveal your own “tells” and body language giveaways. Being aware of those allows you to do a better job of managing them, which can make you a more effective negotiator and enhance your poise, gravitas, and overall executive presence.

What do you like to monitor in terms of body language, and what does that tell you about a person?


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As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.

Illustra Consulting
Copyright © 2014, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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