It’s an Inside Job
If meeting new people makes you nervous or uncomfortable, you’ve probably avoided certain careers or situations which require that kind of interaction. Recent research highlights the power we already have built into us to change how we think and what we believe about ourselves. As we work internally, how we are perceived in the world also shifts.
That tool we have is our body. How we hold our body has a verifiable impact on our hormone levels, our emotions and how we are perceived by others. Self-awareness doesn’t guarantee success, but it can eliminate regret if you know that you’ve represented yourself fully
When I meet new clients I do my research and I also spend some time focusing internally. This prep uses some of the research shared by Amy Cuddy in her extremely popular TED talk. (https://www.ted.com/playlists/171/the_most_popular_talks_of_all)
When we focus on our own posture it helps us get over the first few minutes of something that is unknown and potentially uncomfortable. Research also tells us that our body language is mirrored, so if we enter a meeting or networking session prepared we can quickly turn the course of the meeting in our favor.
So what is this preparation?
- When we are nervous or preoccupied, we don’t breathe deeply, we are prepared to flee attacking animals. Breathing deeply relaxes the nervous system and reduces stress hormones. If we are not stressed, we can think clearly.
- How much space you take up, how concave your chest is and where you look all can reduce your internal experience of power – or radically increase it. So before you enter a meeting or interview, spend as little as two minutes gazing up, lifting your arms or putting your hands on your waist. Those actions will alter your body chemistry and lower the stress hormone levels.
- Be open to what’s going on with your body. The more awareness we can bring to body sensations the more able we are to see when or where we need help. Sometimes just spreading your feet further apart while you’re standing and improving the alignment of your spine can be all that’s needed.
Instead of experiencing public occasions as difficult or threatening, you can experience these situations as opportunities to learn, to meet others and develop new clients.
Alisa Deitz is a Vice President of Business Development at Consultants 2 Go.