Our body language often communicates more than the words we speak. In most situations, we’re not aware of the signals we send through our faces, eyes, gestures, and posture. Communicating with verbal and non-verbal messages can create or shatter trusting relationships. Our body language can also help reinforce and add credibility to our message, or it can contradict our words.
We are always sending signals to others, whether we are aware of it or not. Body language combined with vocal tone can be stronger than our words, even cancel the meaning of the words we say. If you want your messages understood, make sure your words and your body are sending the same signals
Become aware of your body language and use it to your advantage. Here are some suggestions for you:
- Your face sends signals that can give your emotions and feelings away. If your face – your eyes, eyebrows, and mouth – matches your words, it’s supporting those emotions. It can make a difference in two-way communication.
- People who smile are happier than people who don’t. Smiling releases chemicals in your brain that makes you feel good, too. But, be sincere. People who are skilled in reading body language can pick out a false smile every time.
- When you keep eye contact with your listeners, it helps you build trust. If you are speaking to more than one person, be sure to make eye contact with everyone.
- Learn to speak with your hands, but don’t overdo it. Let your hands do what they want to do. Just don’t put them in your pockets or fiddle with a pen. Use them consciously to show size, to count on your fingers, perhaps draw lines in the air to emphasize your point.
- Work on looking confident and in control, even when you aren’t.
- How you feel determines the posture you take. If you are confident, happy, and full of energy, your body will show it. If you’re sad, angry, or confused, your body will show it.
You can learn to read other people’s body cues to see if they are uncomfortable. Is the listener fidgeting? Does he keep crossing and uncrossing his legs? Does he keep checking his watch or cell phone? Ask yourself if you can do something to make him more comfortable. Become aware of these behaviors, learn to watch for the signals, and then adjust your approach.