If you are like most people, you aren’t all that aware of your body language and the unintentional non verbal signals you send. We rely on the words we use, but that is very small part of how we communicate.
We are all pretty good at noticing the body language of others, but most or us are not very tuned in to our own body language. We often run on remote pilot and don’t think about the unintentional signals we may be sending.
Your body language makes up over 50% of your total communication message and it says a lot about you to others, intentional or not.
Improving your body language can make a huge difference in the connection you make when you communicate.
1. Open your body posture
When you put your hands on your hips, it can be interpreted as a sign of superiority, arrogance, or defensiveness. Crossing your arms can show anger or superiority. For best results, try to keep your arms open and at your sides.
2. Watch your space bubble
When you stand too close to someone it usually makes them feel uncomfortable. The four square feet of space immediately surrounding our bodies is our personal space bubble. Cross into this invisible bubble only with those that give you permission to do so – good friends and family.
3. Make comfortable eye contact
When you are sitting down looking at someone standing up, there is a sense of power to the person standing. It can become a major disconnect. Keep your self at eye level if at all possible. The best way to ensure this is to sit if they are sitting; stand up if they are standing.
4. Look up
If someone comes into your space standing while you are sitting, stand up. When you look down or away, your language may be interpreted as communicating disinterest, or even arrogance. Always look up and make eye contact when you are communicating with someone.
A genuine smile wrinkles the corners of the eyes and changes the expression of the entire face. Fake smiles only involve the mouth and lips. It’s easy to distinguish between the two, so don’t force yourself to smile, it won’t work.
6. Avoid Distractions
Looking at your watch, phone, or away displays a sense of boredom or that you don’t have time for or interest in this conversation. Never glance at the time or look away unnecessarily – it says “I don’t really care” and “I’m not really listening to you.” And, really, you aren’t.
7. Stop Fidgeting
This can indicate stress, impatience, anxiety, nervousness, or boredom. It can also be interpreted as a lack of preparedness. Monitor your habits and practice keeping your limbs at rest.
Work on increasing self awareness – pay attention to what your body is doing. Ask a trusted friend for feedback and work on the areas that need some work.
Learn become aware of how your body language is reinforcing, rather than contradicting, what you are communicating. It will be a game changer!
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach and expert in workplace communications. She is the owner and CEO of Cornerstone Coaching & Training, dedicated to helping individuals, work groups and organizations become better communicators and leaders. She is the author of 2 books on communication, and a newly published journal Intentional Gratitude.
Cornerstone hosts a twice-annual Women’s Summit that brings women together to learn how to become more confident communicators.
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