Archive for August, 2011

Body Language – What Your Walk Says About You

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

“I could tell you were an FBI agent by the way you walked,” a man once told me. I had arranged to meet him at a restaurant but had failed to describe myself for him. He stood up the moment I approached the hospitality desk and held out his hand in a greeting.

Kicking Heels

Many people think I’m Asian when they hear my last name, Quy. Actually, it’s French Huguenot. I knew what the man I was meeting looked like because I had his driver’s license photo. How could he be so sure I was the FBI agent he was waiting to meet simply by my walk?

As it turns out, our gait is our first golden opportunity to impress others.

1. Body Language Help Us Evaluate Strangers

Our early ancestors relied upon their ability to recognize people from a distance. They could see a lone figure on the horizon and determine whether they were friend or foe. Now, we’re more apt to recognize the car a person is driving.

Our ability to receive messages about other people by their walk and posture has not gone away. It’s an innate skill we were all born with. However, these messages are often stored in our subconscious—still powerful but not tapped into as much they could be.

2. Body Language Conveys Importance

We convey a lot of information through body language, but it’s easy to forget that our walk is sending a message as powerful as any other gesture. If we’re rushed, or deep in thought, we walk differently. When I asked the man I was meeting at the restaurant what it was that tipped him off, he said, “You walked with an inordinate amount of confidence—quickly, like a person who values her time and the time of others.”

In other words, he could tell by my gait that I was serious and arriving for a business meeting.

3. Body Language Communicates Our Thoughts

Recollect a time when you were at a store waiting in a long line to make your purchase. The clerk is slow. You look around and see the other employees also moving a slow pace. They give the impression of dull minds that have no concern for others. Do you look forward to a return visit?

People who give the impression that they don’t care will not be treated the same as those who communicate that they are both eager and capable. Think about how you react to the following:

  • Slouching and slumped shoulders – sends the message that you don’t care, either about your appearance or your job. Instead, stand with shoulders back and chin level.
  • Leaning or swaying – creates the message that you’re not confident and not capable. Keep weight balanced on both feet
  • Slow movements – interpreted by others to be laziness. Speed is interpreted to mean both a good attitude and high energy.

Fast walkers convey a message of well being:

Soldiers in marches walk with an exaggerated gait to portray both youth and vigor. For this reason, politicians often do the same thing to convey their vitality, particularly if they’re older.

Recent research has shown that the pace of our walk is also an indicator of how healthy we are. Speed reflects vitality because so many organs are involved in how we move—heart, lungs, muscles, joints, and the brain.

Our gait is one of the first golden opportunities we have to impress others. At both conscious and subconscious levels, we start evaluating behaviors at a distance. If we give the wrong first impression, that imprint can have lasting results.

What is the first thing you notice about someone?

© 2011 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE Mental Toughness Assessment

Get my FREE Mental Toughness Mini-Course

Author of “Mental Toughness For Women Leaders” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 


Enhanced by Zemanta

Why You Need To Be Likable

Monday, August 15th, 2011

To be likable is more than a popularity contest—it’s to be appreciated for who you are, even when others don’t agree with you.



There are many good leaders who have prickly personalities, and this makes it difficult for their ideas to be heard. We tend to shut out people we consider to be jerks, even when they are our bosses.

You can be a tremendous leader with a great message, but if your personality is getting in the way of that message being heard by others, you may need to ask yourself how can I become more likable?

Let’s start with defining the sweet spot of likability for a leader. Guy Kawasaki makes the following observation in his book, Enchantment:

For people to like you, they have to accept you. For people to accept you, you have to accept them.

To be likable is simple, but hard. If you want people to like you, you need to make them feel good about themselves. Once you have shown them that you value their acquaintance or friendship, they will feel the need to reciprocate and will try to return that same good feeling toward you.

If it was so easy to be likable, why do we find so many people so . . . unlikable? The simple technique of making friends and being likable is so seldom used because we prefer to focus on ourselves and not others.

We tend to put ourselves before the needs of others. The irony is that, by doing so, we automatically put ourselves at a disadvantage.

As a former FBI counterintelligence Agent, learning how to build rapport was essential in my work. I needed to balance credibility with likability. To do so, I relied upon the following methods of communication to help me become more likable to the people I met.

1. Watch Nonverbal Cues

Nonverbal cues are very important when communicating with other people. Here is a list of the most important.

Raised Eyebrows

The eyebrow flash is a long-distance hello greeting that is universal and also used by monkeys and apes as a greeting signal. The eyebrows rise rapidly for a split second and then drop again. We don’t eyebrow flash strangers on the street or people we don’t like. The only culture that doesn’t use it is the Japanese where is has sexual connotations.

Genuine Smiles

The difference between a true smile and a fake one lies in the recruitment of the eye muscles. In a false smile, the corners of the mouth pull straight back. In a true smile, the muscles around the eyes are engaged and create smile lines around the mouth.

Calm Eyes

Don’t be an eye-darter who is looking around the room while engaged in a conversation. Eyes that rove indicate that you’re bored, looking for an escape, or trying to locate someone more interesting than the person you’re talking to.

2. Focus on Them

People tend to feel good when they are the center of attention. Make empathetic statements that capture the person’s message.

  • Notice an emotion that was conveyed in their conversation and then repeat it by asking a question—such as “So you are happy that you . . .”
  • Rephrase a verbal message they communicated. This accomplishes two things: first, it confirms to them that you correctly heard them, and second, it allows them to talk further about it.
  • Match their body language. If they speak in quiet tones, so should you. If they are intense, ratchet-up your style as well.

3. Be Interesting—and Be Interested

In order to find other people interesting, you must be interesting. Condense your “story” into a succinct but interesting few sentences. While the focus is on the other person, sharing information about yourself will encourage them to do the same thing.

  • Don’t over-share about yourself – the deadly sin of a boorish narcissist.
  • Identify their passion – it’s your job to find out what it is. If they have no passions or interests, then they’re the jerk, not you.
  • People love stories – if you’re stuck with how to engage the person, try telling a story around the product you represent. This helps them to find ways to enter the conversation.

When you make a person feel good about themselves, they will like you. It’s a simple rule to follow. The hard part is putting the interest of others above our own.


© 2011 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”