Body Language and Relationship Building

If you are not careful, your body will betray you. That was the message of a recent talk I gave at the Association for Talent Development – Detroit Chapter’s Top Trainer Throwdown competition. While I was honored to win the title of “2017 Top Trainer,” I was more pleased that people were interested in understanding how to build better relationships using behavioral intelligence. As you may recall from a previous article, behavioral intelligence focuses on explaining, predicting, and influencing a person or people’s behavior. The talk I gave sought to explain how people communicate with their body language and how they can use this to create stronger relationships. Here are a couple of highlights from the talk:

  1. If people do not like you, they will not want to do business with you. Seems obvious, right? However, our body language can send signals that affect the way we are perceived.
  2. The limbic system of the brain is what regulates our Fight – Flight – Feint instinct. Its default is to assume that there is danger around every corner and in every person. When we meet someone for the first time, we must get past this Limbic gatekeeper to make a positive connection.
  3. If our body language causes a negative Limbic reaction in someone, it can have the effect of reducing trust, liking, credibility, and give an overall negative perception. Some of the ways people cause this negative Limbic reaction are as follows:
    • An overly aggressive handshake – Once thought to be a powerful symbol of a strong business personality, neuroscience has shown that it can decrease rapport.
    • Standing to close to someone – also known as proxemics, this can cause the Limbic system to go on high alert.
    • Toe-to-toe postures – We naturally stand shoulder to shoulder like Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. When we take a more dominant stance it can trigger a Limbic response.

These are just a few examples of how our body language can cause a negative limbic response in someone. This can have damaging effects on relationships. A savvy communicator understands this and works to ensure that the person they are interacting with is comfortable. This increases liking, and if people like you, they will want to do business with you.

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