Vanessa Van Edwards: The Science of Succeeding with People

“We like winners. We like to be around winners. We like to work with winners. We like to be friends with winners. That is because we know unconsciously that could activate our feedback loop to win. University of British Columbia did a research study on athletes. They studied athletes around the world. They also studied athletes who’d been blind since birth. They found that across races and genders athletes have the exact same body language when they win or lose a race. Pride body language very specifically is when people take up as much space as possible. They tilt their head up towards the sky. They open their arms wide. They’ll jump up into the air or firmly plant their feet. It’s as if they’re saying “I feel good in the world so I want to take up more space in it.” Whereas defeated athletes, this is the body language of losing and shame, is when they take up as little space as possible. They roll their shoulders in. They tilt their heads towards their chest. They usually will grip their hands in a fist or clenched fashion. They even will stand or sit in fetal position. This is the universal gesture of shame. What happens is when we first see someone, in that first few seconds, we’re very quickly trying to decided “who do you look more like a winner or a loser?” We can pick up how prideful someone feels based on how much space they’re taking up and how much movement they have”- Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a professional people watcher—speaking, researching and cracking the code of interesting human behavior for audiences around the world. She’s also the author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People

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