Lawyers tend to be word people.  As such, they put too much emphasis on what they are communicating.  They will spend hours researching and writing a presentation, and then simply read it. They place far too little emphasis on how they are communicating.  This can be a huge mistake.

“Research shows that people form first impressions about the likeability and trustworthiness of another person very quickly,” said Brown.  “This determination of ‘OK’ or ‘not OK’ happens instantaneously in the deep unconscious.  Once this impression is made, it is almost impossible to change.”

According to a widely cited study by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, body language accounts for an overwhelming 55 percent of that impression.  By comparison, 38 percent of a first impression comes from the tone of your voice and a mere seven percent from your actual words.

Body language includes how we position our bodies (including how close we stand or sit to someone), how we use our hands (including shaking hands), how people perceive our facial expressions (especially our eyes), how we touch ourselves and others, and how our bodies connect with items like pens, eyeglasses, jewelry or even the change in our pockets.  It can include breathing rate and perspiration.

“If the person you are meeting is somber and guarded,” said Brown, “you will never persuade them by being cheerful and demonstrative.  That will only set off their alarms.

“If you want to get different results from your efforts to persuade others, you need to do things differently,” said Brown.  “To get better results in the area of business development, one of the most effective things you can do is to change your body language.  With an understanding of how body language works, you can talk just about anyone into anything.”

This is part two of a three-part article.  For the entire article:


When persuading, body language beats words