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You are a leader in the making. There is no reason why you should walk with your head bowed or carry a sad look. You were made for success. You really can make it happen. Yes. You. I am excited for the new year not because I have all of it together but because just as every new day brings in the promise of a new dawn of opportunities, every new year brings with it the promise of a new year of opportunities and all it is waiting for is for you to seize it and declare it as your year. How to make 2016 your year? Well, first, asserting that it is your year is very important and how you carry yourself will go a long way to prove it to yourself and to everyone around you. So here are some positive actions you should practice and use as you enter the new year. 1. Really listen to those talking to you: I didn’t say act like you are listening. For the first time in your life and in this new year, if someone approaches you to talk, please listen to them. We act like we are listening a lot of the time. When someone talks to us, we nod our heads, smile and yet we are checking our watches and ready with answers before they’ve even made their point. If you know you are not in the right state of mind to listen to them when they approach you, tell them you’ll like to talk to them some other time and follow up on your promise when you are better inclined to truly listen. 2. Keep your voice down: When we are emotional, our voice rises to express our feelings but that pitch hardly passes the message across because people get disturbed by it and don’t get to hear or understand even half of what you are trying to express. There is nothing wrong with being emotional sometimes but if you think your emotions will help the other person understand you, then you are wrong. In my case, when I get emotional, it is best I stop talking and most times I do. Then, when I am clearheaded, calm and I can talk about things objectively, I approach the person again and express my concerns. This voice is relaxed and every word you say comes out at normal pitch, helping the other person’s understanding. 3. Uncross your arms and legs: I invited my friend to a meeting with a good friend of mine who decided to share some vital information with her. At some point, we noticed her arms were crossed so he asked her to uncross them. She did not understand the significance of the request then. I know of a motivational speaker who, when he notices that most of his audience are crossing their arms or legs, would get them into an activity that would open their body up. A defensive body pose protects all your external organs from any kind of access. It means if you are at a seminar and you cross your arms and/or legs, you are blocking out the information that is being shared. This is a proven fact by body language experts. You can read more on how defensive body language slows down retention. 4. Smile: Have you noticed that the minute you smile for no reason at all or smile at someone or something, the atmosphere changes, your outlook improves and things become better all of a sudden? It is no magic; it is a gift given to everyone of us to help stimulate good feelings from the inside to the outside. Use it more often. A positive outlook will go a long way in how your body responds to you and in how other people will respond to you.  5. Adopt a power pose: Who says you can’t assume power poses? Remember my little beginning speech about being assertive in the new year? Well, how your body is communicating to another matters too. Stop slouching, stand upright. Stop avoiding eye contact; when people speak to you, look into their eyes and keep a smile on your face. Shake hands confidently. It has been proven that assuming high power poses for as little as two minutes such as leaning back on a chair with hands behind the head and feet up on a desk or standing with legs and arms wide open stimulates higher levels of testosterone – the hormone linked to power and dominance. and lower levels of cortisol – the hormone linked to stress. Go ahead and have a great year!

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This article was first published on 30th December 2015

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