Body language tips

Body language – its not what you say it’s how you say it. Our body language shapes how others see us, our chances of success and even how we see ourselves. The ability to read body language and in turn become more aware of our own –  can gives us a huge advantage when it matters most. It can be the trick that closes the deal, gets you the job or bring you valuable clarity to social interactions. Here is a list of the basics to get you started.

Young woman body language

*word of warning – as with any system of evidence, ‘clusters’ of body language signals provide a much more reliable indication of meaning rather than one or two signals in isolation. You are generally advised to avoid interpreting single signals.

Body language – Head

Janine Driver, body language expert in her article 6 body language secrets very
successful people know
tells us

  • Do hold your chin – it’s a typical thinking pose that instills confidence into your audience.
  • Don’t share valuable information with your head titled – it communicates that you are not confident with what you are saying.
  • Don’t wrinkle your nose – it communicates discontentment with the individual you are communicating with and encourages them to be closed.

Body language – Eyes

Craig, David in his 2011 publication Lie Catcher: Become a Human Lie Detector in under 60 Minutes, tells us “your eyes are the window to your soul”.

  • Generally looking to the left = remembering or recalling something, as the individual is tapping into the memory part of their brain.
  • Generally looking to the right = imagining or fabricating something, as the individual is tapping into their imagination.
  • Looking down to the left = someone talking to themselves.
  • Looking down to the right = an individual imagining or feeling a sensory memory i.e cycling down a hill.
  • Dilated pupils – our pupils dilate when we are seeing something stimulating/attractive or we are in low light. In contrast our pupils tend to restrict when we see something negative.
  • *word of warning – above can be reversed for left handed people.

Body language – Mouth

Leil Lowndes in her book “how to talk to anyone”, suggests

  • Don’t flash an immediate smile when you meet someone as this shows lack of authenticity, instead make the person feel special – take a second to absorb the other persons face and then let a big “responsive smile flood over your face”.
  • Janine Driver suggests to not pull in your lips and hide them in your mouth as it communicates that you are holding back from your audience.

Body language – Torso/lower body

Janine Driver suggests;

  • Don’t cross your arms when you first meet people as this communicates insecurity and even hostility.
  • Do cross your arms if you are with friends – it can help your problem solving abilities as the action uses both sides of your body which consequently engages both sides of your brain; the logical left and the creative right.

Leil Lowndes suggests

  • When you first meet someone turn your whole body towards them and give them your undivided attention similar to how you would treat a baby – she calls this the “big baby pivot”.

Social phycologist Amy Cuddy tells us

  • Do sit up straight – no slouching.
  • Don’t cross your legs or ankles – these positions not only communicate lack of confidence but they also make us feel less powerful by affecting the hormone balance in our brain – read more about this here.

This article used the helpful information published by Vanessa Van Edwards for Science of people and Alan Chapman on body language for Businessballs.com.

Image curtesy Kennedy Garret on flickr called avoid yourself the image has not been amended.

Written byon behalf of PCA Law

3 easy steps for instant motivation at work

Monday. 9am. You vs computer screen. Motivation = zero. You are most definitely not winning. The thing is, do you care? Maybe not in that moment. But, you will. Here are some tips to get yourself out of that slump and motivated.

3 Easy Steps

Step 1 – incentivise

Think about how great your weekend was. Think about how valuable it is to have a work-life balance. Think about how non-existent your work-life balance will become when you haven’t completed enough work for your upcoming deadline. Think about what will do once you have finished – that beer after work or that extra –  unstressed – hour you could spend with a loved one. Then, think about how the only useful thing you could be doing with your precious time whilst at work, is work.

Step 2 –  reason

Think about why you are at your computer. Yes, there might be a moralistic reason to your work but you also like your salary, don’t you? Imagine life without your salary. Then imagine life with your salary. It’s a quick and simple trick to get those fingers moving.

Step 3 – end game

This can go one of two ways. For this step to work you really do need to like your career. You have studied, trained and/or jumped through hoops of fire to get yourself where you are. If you are unhappy you need to admit this – feeling unmotivated through dissatisfaction with your career is your gut begging for honesty and cannot – unfortunately – be remedied by a self help guide you have googled on the internet. If this resonates with you then think thoroughly about whether a career change is best. Career coaches can bring you valuable clarity if you are unsure, for more information click here. For those of you happy in your career, focus on the end game. Your career has many steps and the only way to reach the next one is to keep your eyes on the prize. Just like your favourite athlete you need to adopt a winning mindset to bring home the gold, read more about this here. Don’t give your employer a reason to hire someone else over you.

Image curtesey of Vic on flickr Vic – flickr the image has not been amended.

By Leila Mezoughi

Social media tips all law firms need to know for 2016

Collage of social media logos

Mckinsey & Company conducted an insightful analysis of the unrealised value in social media for law firms. Quite rightly, the report notes that law firms rely heavily on social interactions with clients and among professional colleagues to be successful at their work and develop new business. These relationships, are built on values such as thought leadership, integrity, fairness – values that can easily be expressed via social media. In essence lawyers are selling what is in their mind and social media is the perfect medium to advertise this service. Here is a list of the all social media platforms law firms should be utilising, and why;

1) Podcasts

Podcasts are the new blog. Instead of reading, people keen to absorb legal knowledge now prefer to plug in their headphones and listen to snippets of technical discussion, whilst on the go. Legal Coffee Break is a good example of how this is done successfully.

2) Live streaming

This avenue is relatively untapped and is becoming increasingly popular. Law firms deliver numerous legal seminars to fellow colleagues and clients. Recording some of these could reap huge benefits –  for success, the actual recording must be short and capture the key points.

3)  Snapchat

Over 65 percent of Snapchat users regularly contribute content – this makes it significantly more active that most networks. There are two types of Snapchat; stories and snaps. Stories are a compilation of snaps from the last 24 hours, all strung together and sent out in one long stream. This format provides opportunity to condense a day’s worth of content into a minute. It is a great tool for reporting conference/events. Snaps are like text messages but with a shelf life. They disappear after a set time. Once a user looks at the image, it disappears. This is good for fast updates for example firms that specialise in finance could send snap updates on the market.

4) Facebook

The recommended strategy for Facebook is paying, there is simply no organic reach anymore. This means two types of strong, audience targeting: Psychographic targeting or like-audience targeting. Psychographic targeting is focused demographics. What are people’s interests and habits? Within the ad platform, you are able to target people based on the types of things they are interested in along with the typical demographic profiling. A Facebook ad should be just a link to some content (blog, video, infographic) with a nice image.

5) Twitter

Twitter is still a powerful platform however to be successful you have to do it right – images double your audience engagement. Hashtags are important and so is the time of day – you must know your audience first i.e western or eastern time zones, if both target both. By joining conversations on Twitter and commenting on relevant news articles, lawyers can convey their expertise on particular areas of practice. Over time, this will increase the visibility of your firm’s expertise on both social channels as well as Google searches, as social content is often indexed by Google. For more information on this topic read Hootsuite’s guide “Scaling Social: the Power of Employee Advocates.

6) Instagram

This platform should and must be used for for law firm marketing. Why? There is plenty of opportunity inside Instagram to build an audience and boost your brand awareness, especially with the under-30’s crowd. These are your clients of tomorrow.

7) Pinterest

This network sends more referral traffic to blogs than any other social platform According to Jabez LaBret, author at Attorney at Law, for a law firm, two types of images work well with the Pinterest audience: memes and infographics. Images that certainly do not work for law firms are: eagles with American flags, courthouse steps, scales or gavels of any kind. Typically, the best approach for Pinterest is to create an infographic that correlates with a blog post or article.

8) Linkedin

Pulse is the LinkedIn publishing platform. it is crucial for law firms to post on this platform because LinkedIn has a built-in audience of professionals. Jabez LaBret, recommends that firms should think of Pulse posts like a blog: good images, catchy title, and don’t burden the piece with too much legalese. What you should not do is publish a blog post, then copy and paste that exact post on LinkedIn. The Pulse network will not attribute the value to that content that you need. This means all posts on the Pulse network should be unique. After you post content to the Pulse network, your profile views will spike. So it is important that your profile is complete and well structured. This is an example of a polished Linkedin platform simple article. In addition LinkedIn Publisher is very effective for amplifying blog posts or sharing a recent client win. This article teaches you how to use LinkedIn Publisher, step-by-step.

This article was written with the information shared by Legal productivity and Attorney at Work. Both blogs are a must read for firms wishing to expand their social media reach.

Written by Leila Mezoughi on behalf of PCA Law.

Images curtesy of Yoel Ben-Avraham on flicker, the image has not been amended

How stress affects our brain

Quite simply, you are what you think. Jo Marchant, in her recent book, Cure, an investigation into the healing power of the mind explains that;

“If you play violin for eight hours a day, then the parts of the brain responsible for helping you to play the violin will get larger. If you’re thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day then those parts of the brain are going to get larger and other parts of the brain will deteriorate.”

How to reduce stress by practising mindfulness

Stress changes the shape of our brain

Many of you may have observed the recent support for, “mindfulness” from the science community. Before I explain the concept of mindfulness, it is important to understand why we need it. Researchers have now found that prolonged stress, changes the shape of our brain. The “stressed brain” will typically have a larger amygdala and a smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes threatening situations. This is useful if there is a real threat, however an increased size can cause the body to be on high alert all the time, when it doesn’t need that reaction. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are areas of the brain involved in rational thought and planning, therefore a reduced size decreases our ability to be rational. Stress is controlling us.

What can we do?

Making our lives less stressful is obvious but not so practical. Firstly, many of us exist within industries that are stressful by nature, deadlines, meetings, clients, funding ect and trying to change any of these variables would be near impossible. Secondly, stress comes in all forms and at all times and will hit us the hardest when we least expect it. Realistically we cannot prepare for every curve ball life decides to throw our way. But we can, through mindfulness, implement mental coping mechanisms  to transform those on the spot, blood-draining-from-face panics into rational, calm deliberations. As most times there is an alternative to “my world is ending” we are just too stressed to see it.

Mindfulness; cure for stress

Mindfulness is a pharmaceutical free, mind enriching way to build stronger mental health. At its core, and by no means is this comprehensive, mindfulness is a thought process that teaches us an objective awareness of our thoughts. Without realising, many of us (myself included) are encumbered with negative thought processes such as “I can’t do (X) because (Y) will happen.” With a greater awareness of our thought dispositions we become masters of our own minds, and not the other way round.

To find our more about how mindfulness can help you read here

By Leila Mezoughi on behalf of PCA Law

What is Success?

what-is-successHistorian, Sarah Lewis asks the question – what is success? Lewis, through her close work with world acclaimed artists, came to the profound realisation that success is just a moment of recognition, something that goes just as quickly as it comes. What we are really seeking is creativity and mastery. Therefore, the question is not what is success but what gets us to convert success into mastery? The answer, Lewis argues, only becomes clear when we start to value the gift of the near win.

The gift of the near win can be more valuable than success

To understand the gift of the near win, Lewis observed a group of varsity archers. She wanted to witness something called archer’s paradox. The idea that in order to actually hit your target, you aim at something slightly skew from it. She watched as the archers, tenaciously trained for three hours. Perfectly aligning their bodies in order to pursue an excellence in the face of obscurity. Success is hitting the target, but mastery is knowing that it means nothing if you can’t do it again and again.

We thrive through a series of near lineage wins, explains Lewis. Mastery is not a commitment to a goal, but to a constant pursuit and our near wins gives us the strength to keep on chasing. In Navajo culture, some craftsmen and women would place a “spirit line” in their textiles. This is a deliberate flaw in the pattern to give the maker a way out, but also a reason to continue making work. “Masters are not experts because they take a subject at its conceptual end. They’re masters because they realise there isn’t one”.

The near win is inbuilt to mastery

Michelangelo famously stated “Lord, grant that I desire more that I can accomplish”. The near win is inbuilt to mastery, Lewis goes on, because the one thing that increases with our knowledge is how little we really know. Coming close to what you thought you wanted can help you attain more than you ever dreamed you could. Read more about Sarah Lewis here

Written by Leila Mezoughi on behalf of PCA Law

Images curtesy of Kwang Wellness on Youtube, the image has not been amended

 

Personal impact; how to make meaningful connections

Sergiu Bacioiu Strobist: Camera Right: Nikon SB-800

Whilst it is certainly a personal impact platitude, it is no less a fundamental truth: you are always having an impact.  Wherever you are and whatever you do, this personal impact will always be eliciting an impression.  Critical questions follow from this: are you conscious of this impact?  Is this the impact you intended?  Is your impact aiding or, in fact, impeding upon your desired outcomes?

The truth

A further, albiet more subtle truth, is that personal impact is actually inter-personal in nature – it occurs in our relationships with others. The ability for people to connect, face-to-face with others, in a comfortable, confident and impactful way is a skill that sets people apart in both personal and business relationships.  As we retreat further and deeper behind a multitude of screens and virtual-one-step-removed communications, those who can skilfully harness the power of making the right personal impact are an increasingly rare and invaluable commodity, standing out from the crowd more than ever before.

The personal impact knowledge gap

Starting from a scientific background in school I transitioned to read law at Cambridge and then moved onto a magic circle law firm, yet at none of these stages, pedagogical or professional, was I offered tuition or training in communications.  The ability to communicate with power, persuasion and potency was either assumed or considered unnecessary; both of which positions are patently absurd.  It was only when I furthered my interest in acting by taking a 6 month ‘acting for screen’ course each weekend during my training contract, that I realised, notwithstanding all of my highly regarded tutelage, a key competency was starkly absent from my skillset.  I had no framework upon which to base my communications and no conscious awareness of how my communications were translating in practice.  I certainly hadn’t had exposure to a professional resource that could help me communicate with greater and more compelling impact.  Having worked as a communications trainer with all levels, from law school students to partners, I was relieved to discover that this lacuna in learning wasn’t just a personal failing on my part but is actually quite common-place.  The good news for us all is that this gap is pre-eminently possible to correct for, it doesn’t require you to take on someone else’s personality and moreover small focussed changes can lead to impressive results.

One word; authenticity

Every successful actor strives for three fundamental components as they work: to be relaxed, to be present and to be authentic. Of course, all an actor is trying to do is reveal the life of another human being and connect this person in a meaningful way to the audience.  Therefore, I feel the goal of the actor aligns with the goal of anyone trying to communicate effectively;  if one can relate to others authentically and from a place of presence they are well on the way to communicating their message with powerful personal impact.

Through the in-house training programme with PCA, communication and impact courses elsewhere and through the continued development of my craft as an actor (particularly using ‘the Method’) I have seen how simple ideas can be applied to equip individuals with a powerful tool-kit to maximise the effectiveness and impact of their communications.

Everyone is different and striving for different outcomes, but working with each individual it is possible to use techniques and strategies to give everyone the ability to have the impact they desire.

Guest blog written by PCA’s Legal Experiential Practitioner, Richard Kirschke

Image curtesey of Sergiu Bacioiu on flickr Sergiu Bacioiu – flickr the image has not been amended.

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