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Setting & Achieving Goals

Master the Non-Verbal Language of Business

The success of any encounter begins the moment someone lays eyes on you. You create an aura and you are responsible for what it says about you.

Monique Verduyn




Studies show that your words account for only 7% of the messages you convey. The remaining 93% is non-verbal, based on what people see and transmitted through tone of voice. In a business meeting, therefore, people can see what you are not saying. That’s why it’s important to make sure your body language matches your words if you want them to ring true.

Look Them in The Eyes

Maintain eye contact about 80% of the time. Less than that can be interpreted as discomfort, evasiveness, lack of confidence or boredom. Overdo it and you may seen as too direct, dominant or forceful, which can make the other person uncomfortable. Avoid looking over the other person’s shoulders as if you were looking out for someone more interesting.

Speaker, trainer and author Lillian Bjorseth says focused eye contact displays confidence on your part and also helps you understand what the other person is really saying verbally. “Looking someone in the eye as you meet and talk with him/her also shows you are paying attention, she says.

“Listening is the most important human relations skill, and good eye contact plays a large part in conveying our interest in others.” She advises looking at someone as soon as you engage in conversation and maintaining eye contact throughout. Be sure to maintain direct eye contact as you are saying goodbye as it will help leave a positive, powerful, lasting impression. “Imagine an inverted triangle in yourface with the base of it just above your eyes,” Bjorseth adds. “The other twosides descend from it and come to a point between your nose and your lips.That’s the suggested area to look at during business conversations.”

Take Up Space

One of the first key things people notice is how you carry and present yourself. What you learnt in primary school applies here. Sit or stand up straight if you want to be seen as attentive and enthusiastic. When you slump in your chair, you look tired and uninterested and no-one wants to do business with someone like that. A drooping posture can turn people away without you even realising it. When you walk or stand, don’t slouch. Pull your stomach in, keep your shoulders back and lift your head up.

Command respect by standing tall and claiming the space which you occupy. Anyone who practices yoga will tell you that planting your feet firmly on the ground, hip distance apart, gives you an enormous sense of being grounded and balanced which is a great way to start any interaction.

Have a Friendly Face

Facial expression is a key component of non-verbal communication. A smile sends a positive message and exudes warmth and confidence. Smiles show interest, excitement, empathy, concern; they create an upbeat, positive environment. But don’t overdo it. To gain respect, first establish your presence in a room, then smile.

Your mouth gives clues, too. Pursing your lips or twisting them to one side can indicate that you are thinking about what you are hearing or that you are holding something back. The position of your head speaks to people. Keeping your head straight, which is not the same as keeping your head on straight, will make you appear self-assured and authoritative. People will take you seriously. Tilt your head to one side if you want to come across asfriendly and open. An occasional nod is another way to confirm that you are listening.

Watch Your Limbs

Arms crossed or folded over your chest say that you have shut other people out and have no interest in them or what they are saying. This goes for your legs too.

Control your hands by paying attention to where they are. In business, your hands need to be seen. Keep them out of your pockets and resist the urge to put them under the table or behind your back. Having your hands anywhere above the neck, fidgeting with your hair or rubbing your face, is unprofessional.

Work psychologist and business consultant James Borg warns against making judgements about people based on a single twitch, hand movement or posture. He advises looking for clusters of three postures or movements – for example, someone who sits with their knees facing away from you, their arms crossed and not making eye contact is probably not that keen on you or your views, or is feeling tense. You also need to look at how their movements deviate from their normal behaviour before you can make assumptions. “You can get paralysis by analysis,though. I don’t go around analysing people. A lot of the time I use my gutfeeling,” he says.

Best Body Language Books

Body Language: 7 Easy Lessons to Master the Silent Language
Author: James Borg
Publisher: Prentice Hall Life

The Definitive Book of Body Language: How to Read Others’ Attitudes by Their Gestures
Authors: Allan Pease and Barbara Pease
Publisher: Orion

The Body Language Bible: The Hidden Meaning Behind People’s Gestures and Expressions
Author: Judi James
Publisher: Vermilion

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.


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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success

The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.

Allon Raiz




You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system:  Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.

A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.

The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

Positive inputs

A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.

Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.

The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own success

In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.

If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.

Related: Daily Practices for Cultivating a Positive Work Culture to Support Your Business

If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.

And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

Decrease the amount of noise in your head.

Nina Zipkin




Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.

Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work – like checking emails – and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

2. Block out your days

A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day – maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour – to spend on a given project.

Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping


You can’t focus if your are stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold TurkeyFreedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made SimpleCalm and Headspace.

For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win

6. Change up what’s in your headphones


While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more.

Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.

7. Streamline your communication

If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person.

Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be the most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

“Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”

This article was originally posted here on

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