Talk Takeaway: Relationships with Patti Wood

Posted on Nov 7, 2012 10:45am

From a flip of the hair to hands on the hips, your movements, gestures and expressions can say as much as what comes out of your mouth. Body language expert and author of "Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma," Patti Wood joined "The Talk" to tell us how once you master the art of body language, you can improve your love life, your family ties, even your career.

How accurate are first impressions and how long do they last?

First impressions are 76% accurate. Not only do we form first impressions very quickly, but also, as research has shown, it can take up to six months of constant interaction to change an incorrect first impression.  We tend to assign more weight to our first impression than to our later impressions.

Reverse bad impression with handshake.

The good news is… yes, you can change it a bad first impression. If you feel that things were not going well, you can regain and reboot a bad impression with something as simple as a great handshake to end an interaction. A handshake is equivalent to putting in three hours of face to face interaction and a great way to establish a solid bond. Pay attention to how you end the impression.  Men tend to shake hands at the beginning and the end of a meeting. Women on the other hand, don't want to shake hands if they don't have to. That's why it's important for women to take the extra step and make that interpersonal connection.  This one act will seal the bond and reverse that negative initial impression.

Maintain steady gaze to promote credibility.

First, it's very important to maintain a steady gaze because THAT without a doubt promotes credibility. Credibility is so important because that makes the person you are speaking to feel safe and tells them you are trustworthy. The most noticeable, non-verbal behavior affecting credibility is eye contact. Avoiding eye contact will undermine the credibility that you've worked so hard to establish… and you may not even know it.

Raise eyebrows to create safe environment.

The second thing I want you to be aware of are your eyebrows. I want everyone to try something I call "Flash at Fifteen." This means when you come through the door, whether it be at home or at a party or at work, you should "flash" your eyebrows.  You should raise your eyebrows up when you get within fifteen feet of someone and that will create the impression that you are safe, approachable, open, likeable and easy to be around. That's exactly what you need to do in order to break the ice.

Show your palms to show honesty.

Don't be afraid… you should always show the palms of your hands when talking and gesturing. By showing your palms, you're sending the message that you're open, honest and telling the truth. The worst thing you can do is hide them by putting them under the table or in your pockets or carry things which will hide the palms of your hands. The reason that most people don't show their palms is because it makes them feel nervous and exposed. You naturally feel more protected with your hands crossed and palms hidden. But this can be a big mistake, so don't do it.

Get big and open up to look powerful.

This is such an important tip. You need to always make sure that you are sitting up, keeping your chest and shoulders open and never crossing your arms. Did you know that when you cross your arms, that you retain 38% less information? Also people are more likely to think you are closed off and unapproachable and it really blocks off communication with others. You might feel protected and safe but you are completely closing off communication to the rest of the world. In addition, this closes what I call the heart window. For example, when women feel uncomfortable, they tend to shrink down and make themselves smaller. We just saw this recently when Kristen Stewart sat next to Robert Pattinson in their first interview together for their latest "Twilight" movie.  She was so uncomfortable that she literally bent over, crossed her legs and was basically curling herself into a ball with her hands all over the place. We all saw this unravel… don't do this.

Notice feet position when talking.

Think about the part of the body under the least amount of conscious control, and the part of the body that is often first to change in response to stress. The feet point to where the heart wants to go. When we are stressed, our feet may freeze in place, point away to flee, plant them far apart so that we can fight, or go out from under us as we faint. We stand with both feet toward the door to signal that we want to leave a conversation, or more politely, we place one foot toward the speaker and one toward the exit in a subtle, "please let me go" plea when we want to wave goodbye.

Imagine you are talking to a man whose upper body is aimed toward you but whose legs and feet are turned toward the exit. He may be indicating that he wants to leave. When you notice this, you should consider the topic you are discussing and how the person feels about you. Then ask yourself if he is nervous and saying with this body, "I really want to out of here."  You can also see a person who is ready to talk or even argue when their feet are apart and in the "locked and loaded" position.

You can always tell how happy couples are with each other when you take a look at their feet when they are interacting. When the feet and pelvis of a couple are pointed at each other that means they are in love. I call this stance the "Love V."

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