A Strong Handshake

I read a blog yesterday about improving your body language. Since writing my book, I have been working on all my communication skills and it is essential to be aware of your body language. If your message is strong but your body language is weak, the message is lost. The blog said, 

When first introduced to a leader, we immediately and unconsciously assess him or her for warmth and authority…. So the best leadership strategy is to embody both sets of traits—and to do so early and often.

What body language conveys authority? Good posture, taking up space, a firm handshake and a purposeful stride.

The part about the handshake resonated with me. I don't know how it came to me, but when was preparing to do my first panel interview for the Rotary Scholarship, I resolved to stride confidently into the room and greet each person with a firm handshake and a smile. Perhaps because handshakes have always been scary to me (I have sweaty hands), this action took a lot of buildup. It made an excellent impression, however. In every interview since, I have made sure to give a good handshake. 

First impressions matter a lot. Everything from your grammar to your handshake give cues to your audience about your character. If handshakes are scary for you too, try practicing them with a friend. One great way I get to practice is by participating in Toastmasters. Every time you get up to speak, the Toastmaster leading the meeting shakes your hand to welcome you and shakes your hand to finish. It's a way to recognize each other and add formality to the role you are taking on. It's a reminder that you are a professional (in whatever field you practice), and that you should be treated as such. 

Handshakes have become less common in some crowds, but I think it's an important way to bridge generations and reminds you that you should be taken seriously. Give it a try sometime!

Baby-Proof to Improve Your Relationship

When my husband and I are being lazy parents, we watch tv. The tv rests upon a trunk in our living room, which just so happens to be at about our daughter's chest level. She has long since figured out how to turn knobs and one of her best strategies for prodding us out of our tv daze is to amp up the volume quickly and then run away.

My husband scolds her and goes to turn the volume knob back down, only for her to repeat the action moments later. In exasperation, we asked for advice on how to train her to stop this annoying behavior (tips other than not watching tv, which is another topic).

"Have you tried putting the speakers out of her reach?" Our parenting teacher gently suggested, making the obvious solution more painfully blatant from her non-condescending tone.

"I guess we should try that," said my husband. That very evening we removed the speaker from below the screen and placed it on the window sill behind the set. TA-DA! Problem solved. 

This example gets to a point that I appreciate from our parenting class. "Baby-proof at least one space in your house. Sounds mundane, but it will really improve your relationship with your child when you're not constantly yelling at them to stop climbing on this, or don't touch that." Try it for yourself, see where the conflicts with your child are and most likely they will be around your desire to keep your child safe.