When humans interact, our lines of communication are both complex and intricate.
If you’re communicating verbally, it’s relatively easy to extract emotions based on what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
The “mixed signals” of communication tend to occur when we stop talking.
With body language, it can be a bit harder to extrapolate a definite feeling or mood from someone. Everyone possesses different mannerisms and therefore distinct communication styles.
For example, liars may be easy to spot thanks to an overly stiff posture, twitchy hands that are always rubbing a forearm or back of their neck, and eyes that may hold contact far longer than the average person.
However, this could also be indications of someone who is nervous or overly anxious or awkward about a subject or situation.
Therefore, when reading the body language of others, and displaying your own, take into consideration the movements as a whole, and not just one or two.
The context of the interaction is equally as important.
Similar to how you may alter your speech patterns and the words you use based on your audience and circumstances, adjust your body language as well. Realize that others may be doing the same.
BODY LANGUAGE IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE
With few exceptions, business relies on relationships.
Whether it’s with customers, investors, partners, vendors, or fellow employees, how we interact with those with work with plays a huge role in our success or failure.
Disregarding how others view you in your interactions with them can lead to the following issues:
- Lack of respect or inability of others (particularly subordinates) to take you seriously.
- Difficult or uncomfortable working environment.
- Little commitment from others to meet requests you make.
- Disregard for your opinion in meetings or when conducting negotiations.
- Lost confidence in yourself leading to being ineffective around your peers.
Beyond what your body language conveys to others, knowing how to read a counterpart’s nonverbal cues is equally vital.
Close attention to facial expressions is the easiest way to interpret what someone is trying to tell you, but observing gestures and body shifts can also inform if someone is comfortable or not.
Further, if your job requires presenting to others or pitching sales, you need to ensure your audience is engaged.
Look for signs of disinterest like slouching, eyes that are unfocused or “daydreaming” and looking everywhere else but at you. Even doodlers, with heads down and pens scratching away, indicate you might need to perfect your presentation style.
More so than in most other environments, your body language at your place of work is key to ongoing success. Superiors want to see their employees open, upright and engaged with the tasks at hand, and knowing how to read others will allow you to get the most out of your interactions with them.
BODY LANGUAGE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
With perhaps a few exceptions, the way you conduct yourself professionally is vastly different from who you are personally. This does not mean however that your communication skills, and more specifically your nonverbal interactions, are any less necessary.
We’re by no means handing out relationship advice, but it’s always a good practice to realize that just because your workday is over doesn’t mean the need to be an effective communicator also ended at the office.
Positive eye contact, appropriate proximity, and maintaining an open, welcoming posture will impart warmth and affection.
Hand holding or a touch on the shoulder or arm will also do well in preserving a closeness befitting the relationship.
Even in disagreements with your partner or a friend or family member, avoiding negative physical cues like blocking or turning your back, clenching your fist, or tossing your head aside or using dismissive hand gestures.
Maintaining your composure, and keeping any physical displays of anger or displeasure to a minimum will ensure a more civil discourse and help you repair the rift much sooner.
Modern day communication isn’t just limited to how well we speak.
How we are perceived, and the manner in which we carry ourselves is equally as important.
Whether in a business setting or someplace more personal our nonverbal cues generate a much broader spectrum of emotion than the use of words alone.
Once practiced and refined, your body language will assure that you transcend simple conversation and build deep connections with whomever you engage.
This guest post was graciously shared by Anna Kucirkova. Anna speaks 3 languages and has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and SE Asia she still wants to explore the rest of the world. The link to her original piece is here.