When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Studies show that more than 70% of communication is nonverbal. Understanding the power of body language is as crucial as listening skills when communicating with friends, family and colleagues.
So, what does YOUR body language say about YOU? Here are some interesting tips to keep in mind when YOU are speaking:
1. Let’s start with the handshake. Confidently stretch out your hand, look the person in the eye while you smile and give a confident yet friendly handshake that lasts only one or two seconds. Try to match the pressure of the handshake of the other person as well. You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.
2. Look “open” rather than “closed.” This means unfold your arms, uncross your legs, do not hunch your shoulders, position your shoulders square with the other person, and widen your stance when you are standing to look more solid and sure of yourself.
3. Keep a consistent amount of eye contact, which shows you have nothing to hide.
4. Nod when the other person is speaking to you – this shows you are listening.
5. Body language can help influence your emotions. If you stand up straight, shoulders back, chin up, chest out, wide stance – you will look AND feel energized. If you slouch, with your chin down and chest in, you will look and feel grim and deflated.
And here are some things to keep in mind when observing others’ body language:
1. Check out the other person’s brow. A furrowed brow may mean confusion, fear or tension.
2. If the other person does not keep eye contact or tends to look away, he or she may be uncomfortable with something.
3. If the other person is tapping his or her fingers, he or she may be bored and/or anxious.
4. Folded arms or crossed legs may indicate the other person is not fully on board with what you have to say.
5. If the person’s feet are pointing away from you, he or she may not be interested in what you are saying.
It is so important to be PRESENT when you are listening to another speak – both in terms of listening and when observing body language. In our “smart device” society, face-to-face meetings are falling by the wayside, giving us fewer opportunities to practice being present. So when you do meet with others in person, make the most of the experience.
And practice good, effective, welcoming body language.