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How Your Body Reacts

Lesson 8 from: The Power of Body Language

Vanessa Van Edwards

How Your Body Reacts

Lesson 8 from: The Power of Body Language

Vanessa Van Edwards

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Lesson Info

8. How Your Body Reacts

Lesson Info

How Your Body Reacts

Hopefully, everyone in the audience looked at some of their self diagnosis. So that is the first part of increasing your influence, is figuring out what does your body naturally do in its low confidence state, and what does it naturally do in its high confidence state. This helps me help you keep your body language authentic. Right, so you're not just doing things that don't come naturally to you. It keeps you in, "Oh, I already do this naturally." What I had everyone do was take out their self diagnosis chart, this is free in your bonus materials. So if you wanna grab that, and I would love to talk about hopefully, over the last two segments you look at how your body reacts when you are in low confidence. And I ask you to think about your most embarrassing moments. So I can tell you a little bit what I did. I actually did this last night for myself. I thought of my most embarrassing moment. My most embarrassing moment is absolutely terrible. What happened, it's horrible. I was a camp ...

counselor. I'm holding a pen 'cause it's a comfort gesture, which we talked about earlier. I was a camp counselor, and I was a camp counselor for 7th grade boys. And if you know 7th grade boys, they are at maturity levels. They have no filters, and we had slip and slide day on Friday, and they dared me to go on the slip and slide as fast as I could. And I'm a little bit competitive, so I was like heck yeah, I'm gonna beat all of them which is totally crazy. They're 7th grade boys. And so I start the slip and slide, and I run down as fast as I can and I go, and I did not realize that my bathing suit top had pull down completely. It was horrible. It was the worst moment of my life for embarrassment. I was dying, so what I do when I'm embarrassed. When I thought about the story and I explain it to my husband last night is, as you can see I also roll my shoulders in. I also have a tendency to sway. So I hop when I'm anxious, as if my nerves are shooting out the bottom of my feet. I also like to cover my face. All I wanna do is cover my face and my eyes. We're gonna learn about is a blocking behavior that we do when we don't like something. I also get even more expressive with my hands. Almost like they're like jazz hands. My jazz embarrassment hands. And those are very typical things people do when they are low confidence. So I turn to you guys in the audience back home. What did you do when you think about your low confidence moment? What does your body want to do with itself? So we helped Sarah with hers. Max how about you? Very similar to that body gesture that both of you describe, but my heart tends to clench and I definitely come forward, and I'm very ashamed so definitely I bring my head down 'cause I don't want anyone to see me. I don't wanna be apart of the world. Exactly, and that is the universal gesture of the defeat that we talked about. We actually go into the defeated body language. We wanna protect ourselves from this horrible moment that happened. Anyone else has some interesting or different body language cues that happens when they think about their embarrassing moments? My heart goes almost off the charts. It's just fast, fast, fast, so my eyes get really big and I'm like. Right, you actually have a physiological response to that. You can feel your heart rate go. Most people start sweating, and then your eyes going deer in the headlights of oh my gosh, I can't believe I did this. This is exactly what happens when people are very embarrassed. So now we're gonna talk about the fun side. We're gonna talk about the high confidence moments. So I brought Jaime up earlier. I would love you to come back up if I don't mind. I want everyone to think about the proudest moments of your life. When something happened that you just felt amazing. You were so proud and so happy, and it was like you could just float. That's how good it was, and I gave you a little tip on this earlier, so you've been able to think about it. Have you found one. Well I didn't find the proudest moment of my life, but this is a moment that is very memorable. I was so proud. Okay, well look at that. We're already starting right. And so what I want you to do is I want you to watch the body language that we're gonna see. Face, head, hands, expressiveness gestures. And think about what your body does as you explain your proudest moments. So I'm gonna give you the stage and let you tell us what your proudest moment was. So there I was, 19 years old, buying my first brand new car. And I signed all their papers, well my mom co-signed, but I was really proud that she did that for me too. But the really proud part of it was actually driving it off the lot, rolling the windows down, opening up the sunroof and just riding. Turning up the radio all the way, activating all the speakers, and letting the wind just tousle my hair. Just looking around with total pride that I had my brand new car. (laughing) Have a round of applause for that. Thank you. (audience applauding) Thank you. Thank you. Okay, so Jean Marie is also an amazing storyteller, so that was also amazing. What did you notice? What did her body do that was so different from those embarrassing moments we saw earlier. What did she do? She was acting the story. She was actually acting out what happen in the story. Yes. Her body couldn't help but show you what was happening. Yes, Sasheik. I noticed this thing. Unshakeable determination, right. And the thumb up which is a okay. In western cultures it's a okay. In some cultures that is not a good thing, so she was just going. She was in that car and it was gonna happen right. That powerful fist which is different than this powerful fist. This is very power producing. It's usually when we go into that whereas this, we're hunched over is more of a defeated pose of anger. What else do we notice? She whipped her hair. Well yeah, she whipped her hair. Thank you for showing us that Max. She whipped her hair. (audience laughing) So that is when we are in our proud moments typically we have heighten movement in our upper body in our head. It's literally like we're just trying to bask in the light of the goodness. And it looks like dancing. I don't know if you noticed, but it's actually kind of almost look like if you had heard the story on mute, it almost looked like she was dancing. And we're gonna learn that dancing is one of those proud you behaviors. It's one of those empowering things that you can do, dancing free form like that. Any other things that we noticed? Yeah. She was leaning forward most of the story before she went to the full act. Love it, so she leaned forward to tell us that story right and so when we're super engaged. That's an engagement cue. We lean into it. When we're embarrassed, we usually crouch down or lean away from it. When I coach public speakers. One of the biggest mistakes I see with public speaking is people take the stage and they immediately start talking and they take a step back. They rock back. I see that all the time with speakers. I even subconsciously do it when I'm really nervous. I have to really focus on keeping planted. The reason is 'cause it's a distancing behavior. It's like we're trying to step back from what's making us uncomfortable. So the lean-in is like yes, I'm so in this. So those are all really confirm a person behavior. Okay so why do we do this exercise? As you filled out your charts for yourself. These are the things that you naturally do when you feel low and high confidence. The low confidence moves are the ones you wanna watch out for and self notice. Notice that you have some self-awareness. I'm doing some of my low confidence moves. When you're in a networking event or a meeting, and you know that you tend to shift back and forth. You can go, ha, I'm doing that. Having that self awareness that I went into low confidence body language. And knowing what we do naturally in high confidence is gonna help us in a second figure out how we can be authentic and be powerful, and that increases our influence. So that I'm not teaching you things that don't already come natural to you. You're doing what you already do naturally. What's really important about this is that we're talking about self kindness. So some people when they start talking about their low confidence, they get ashamed. They're ashamed of the moment and they are ashamed at what they do. This is just about noticing what we naturally do. From a genetic perspective, this is what our bodies do, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. So noticing, and we say notice don't judge. Okay, I noticed I'm going in a low confidence, but not judging that. So I have a question for you before we move on to step two. So step one was self diagnosis. Now let's talk about how to harness that high power body language. What is the first body part you notice when you meet someone? Sasheik, what do you think is first body part you notice? I think. When you first see someone, where do you look? My first thing was eyes. Okay. I think that's it. Eyes, where else do you look? Is everyone else eyes or where else do you think you look first? Mouth. Mouth, okay, yeah. The face as a whole. Right, the face as a whole. Those are the most common answers. Actually the first place we look is the hands. And this comes from back in our cave man days. When we were a caveman, and we were approached by a stranger caveman. To keep ourselves safe, the first place we look was their hands to see if they were carrying a weapon. So we still have this as a self protection guard to check someone's hand to make they're friend or foe. So actually when you first meet someone, the first place you look is their hands which is kind of an interesting thing. Everyone says eyes, mouth, face, and that is the second place that you look. But first, typically you check someone's hands very, very quickly. When we look people's eye patterns, where they go when they meet someone and look at a picture. They almost always go down to the hands subconsciously. They say that they didn't look but they do, and that's to protect ourselves to see what they're holding. So what's interesting about hands is they are our trust indicators. So I would love you to pull out your laws of body language sheet. This is our sixth law of body language. So again, the laws of body language is for free and are bonus materials. So the law of the hands is to increase trustworthiness and connection. Use your hands. The reason for this is because our hands are our trust indicators. What I mean by that is the brain looks at the hands to see if we can trust the person or not. So having your hands visible is incredibly important for building rapport and trust. People's brains cannot relax when they cannot see their hands. On a subconscious level, they feel like they're missing a part of your puzzle. So for host for example, I was thinking about host body language the other day. And having your hands above desk is actually a hugely important aspect of building trust with your audience. Having your hands on the computer is a great way to show, I'm open. I'm open to hearing what you have to say which is interesting. Body language host appearance. Here's the question because I'm often aware that our hands are hidden by the computer you're using. Would you recommend this as a better? Yes, so that was my one piece of advice for you guys. So we've learnt something. We've learnt a lot-- We have. But now we learn something very, very hard and fast. Specifically for you guys, especially when you're talking or taking questions, if you can keep your hands outside of your computer, so they're not hidden, that would greatly increase the audiences feeling that they could tell you what's happening. Yeah, little tiny tip for hosts, and this is really good for business meetings. Women especially feel like we're taught to put our hands on our lap below the table. That actually decreases our trust and makes us look like little girls. So it's very important to get in the habit of keeping them above table on the side of the computer. If you can train yourself to do just that one thing, that will really help with your rapport-building behavior. So a really interesting little, juicy, fact is jurors find defendants who put their hands under the table as more sneaky, untrustworthy and deceitful. So in the study what they did is that they had mock trials. That were totally scripted, actors scripted. And they change small variables in the courtroom. One of the things they did in this experiment is they had the defendant put his hands under the table at the trial. In that version, his ratings of sneakiness and mistrust shot through the roof. Same verbal content, same everything except he had his hands on the table. Our brains just don't like it. Back from caveman days, they want to see someone's hands or else we feel like we can't trust them. So how do we use this in business, in addition to just keeping them above the table? What else can we do? One more quick study for you is Gifford and Wilkinson found that expressive hands got participants hired. If you were going on job interviews and you err on the side of being really stiff, it's much better to be expressive with your hands. We're gonna talk about specifically how to do that a little bit later. So here's how, visible hands. Keeping them above the desk, so not putting them in your lap. Avoiding pockets at all costs. So if you're at networking events, I know it is comfortable to tuck that hand in a pocket. I purposely do not wear dresses with pockets so I don't put my hands in my pockets. Also another thing that I do is when I wear jeans, I put little pieces of paper in the pockets, so the second I put my hand in, and I feel it, I take it out. That is what I do to keep my hands out of my pocket because it's very comforting to have them in there. But it really increases your trust to have them out and visible. Avoiding underarm crossings, so another thing that people can do to hide their hands is they cross their arms. And then their hands become suddenly not visible because they're underneath their arms. That's another way that you want to keep them out. Sitting on hands, women sometimes they'll do this or they'll tuck them under their legs like if they're sitting in a chair. They tuck or they sit on their hands, so it looks like this. They'll tuck their hands. Do you see woman do that? Right, they tuck their hand under, that's actually removing their trust indicators, or they sit on them like this especially if they're cold. Now I also have a problem with cold hands so I have to work really hard to keep them warm and expressive but you definitely don't wanna tuck to them unless you're alone. Right, that's totally okay, but keep them visible as much as possible. So in addition to visible hands, I also want you to be expressive with your hands. So palm displays. This right here is the universal gesture for open-mindedness so if you are ever under attack. If a client is yelling at you or upset with you, and you want them to calm down. This is the best position that you can do. Tell me what's wrong, I'm gonna work with you to solve it. Everything's fine. You're literally non-verbally telling them. I have nothing to hide. I'm showing you my hands. I'm showing you my hand, that's where that expression comes from. So that's a great display of I have nothing to hide especially if you're trying to convince someone of something and it's around a sticky issue like you have a very high price. You can say my price is X, let me explain to you exactly how that happens, what goes into that. That's like saying, I'm very open and clear and transparent about what goes with this price. That's a non-verbal, I call it a non-verbal underline or bold. It's bolding or emphasizing your words non-verbally, so they're totally congruent. Reaching out so another thing that you can do when you're pitching or you're talking to people is if you have a gesture where you want to include them in something. You can say I want your feedback. That's a way you can be expressive with your hands. You're actually gesturing to them and we're gonna talk about proximate tomorrow, which is how we interact and space with people. When you do that you're literally reaching into their space, but in non-threatening way. So when you say, I wanna work with you. It wakes up their mind a little bit. Someone earlier asked how do I keep people engaged? What if they're just bored? That's a way you can non-verbally wake people up. Is you can say, for you for example or how can I help you with this? It literally wakes their brain up to go, someone entered my space. Someone's talking to me. It's a non-verbal hook for them to wake up. And lastly is using different kinds of gestures. There's all different kind gestures. There's thousands of them we can do. I have a lot of them on my website. There's the heart gesture. There's the hearing gesture. There's the thinking gesture. There's all different kind of gestures that you can use with your hands to make you more expressive. Now, what's really important. I never like to encourage my students to stay in box but this is the one time I'm gonna encourage you to stay in the box. And here's what I mean. Studies have found that people who are overly expressive, who express outside the box of their body are seen as more disorganized and more flaky. So when you're expressive, it's very important that you stay in the box right outside of your torso. That's a positive, the ideal expressiveness. So this is the typical box, it extends about two or three inches outside of your torso. So when you're gesturing, you wanna stay in this box or else people see you as out of control. Right, it looks all over the place. Our brain's like, huh, too much. So here's where you want to stay. A couple of other examples for you is the difference between good expressiveness and a bad expressiveness. And in the first box, you can see here she's gesturing, but she's staying pretty close to her body within two to three inches outside the box. Right she reaches outside and that makes her look less dependable, more disorganized. Alright, I have a new law to introduce to you before we leave the hands. This is body language law number seven. It's the law of the spectrum. Always in body language, I want you to hit the sweet spot. Let me explain what that means so for those of you at home. A free bonus material is your laws of body language just pull that out and hit the sweet spot. Here's what it means, there is always a spectrum in body language. There's the high end so if you're overly expressive, you're the high end of the body language, but if you're under expressive, you don't have any gestures at all. Where I want you to be is right in the middle, right in that sweet spot, so the ideal is in the box. Less is the hands that are hidden or no expressiveness, but I also don't want you to talk too much. Everyone falls in different places on the body language spectrum. I am overly expressive so I have to work on reining my hands in. Who is overly impressive when you think about? Okay, okay so we have three. Are you guys under expressive, is that typically? It's the opposite. Okay so it is very different. So that's why I wanted you to take that self diagnosis chart 'cause I wanted to see where you naturally fall. So being overly expressive, you might have to rein them in but if you're under expressive, and you hide your hands, you wanna work on keeping them at least visible, and express a little bit. Yeah. The size or the scale of that expression, is that somewhat dictated by the occasion? Let's say that you have a public engagement, and you've got 500 or 5000 people. Does that have to do with, does the box change size. Yes, the box definitely changes because you get smaller, right. So people all the way in the back of the room, this looks very, very small to them. So this doesn't look as bad. You'll notice that actors on stage are super expressive with their body, and that is because their box is way bigger. Whereas on television, they're able to keep their gestures much smaller into micro gestures. So yes, if you're public speaking. Also in video, your box can extend a little bit because you're trying to express concepts, but generally in person to person, I want you to keep them in that box. And know where you fall in the spectrum to make sure that you hit the sweet spot right in the middle.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Baseline Coding System Chart
Lying Red Flags
Positive Trait List
The Nonverbal Elevator Pitch
Laws of Body Language Answer Key
The Nonverbal Sales Pitch
Trivia Answer Key
Citation List
Elevator PItch Clinic
Laws of Body Language Worksheet
Self Diagnosis Chart
Body Language - Trivia
The Microexpression Chart
30 Day Action Plan.pdf
Action Steps and Homework

Ratings and Reviews

R. P. Getz

I loved this course! I've learned so much and Vanessa did a terrific job making it easy and fun. I loved learning that by paying more attention to body language, I'm becoming a better listener (and picking up on stuff I never caught before). ;) I recommend the class highly to anyone and everyone as all can benefit from being more aware of others and yourself!! My hard earned education $$ well spent here. :) Cheers to Vanessa Van Edwards and Creative Live!


This was an absolutely fantastic course, it would be a huge understatement to say this course was worth the money. Vanessa provided tremendously accessible, highly actionable training useful for both social and professional environments. I couldn't recommend this course highly enough, and am heading now to purchase her next one! Thanks so much Vanessa and Creative Live, this is the course I've been hoping to find for years.

susan kinnel

I just found myself applauding in my bedroom as this program was wrapped up, Vanessa is fabulous! This was money well spent, loved every moment of it! I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the information, and soon felt blown away by how many micro expressions I could spot during the clips she showed. I was so impressed with how easy it was to pick this info up due to Vanessa's enthusiastic delivery. YAY vanessa!

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