Why body language can be a key to greater success
We already know since Albert Mehrabian conducted several studies on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages of feelings and attitudes, that body language is an important element of human communication but few people know how to benefit from this knowledge.
When properly used body language can be your key to greater success on any level. It can help to build sustainable private and work relationships , to work easier in a multicultural world, bond with colleagues or employees, influence people in sales and other domains, present your ideas with bigger impact and protect your charisma.
How does it work?
First of all it is already a unconscious habit. We’ve been reading body language our entire life. As a baby we already mirrored the movements on our mothers face. Our limbic brain is the first part of the brain to receive emotional information based on reactions on body language signs. Our body reacts on interpretations made by that specific part of the brain.
So relax we’re programmed for it.
Learn the basics of body language. Learn about facial expressions. Read a book, follow a course . There are many ways to bring your knowledge into awareness in what has been a subconscious process. Don’t make the common mistakes people make when they try to read an nonverbal message.
Look at het context. For instance if somebody is crossing his of her arms it doesn’t always mean that they are not open for communication. It could be that this person is feeling cold.
Look for clusters of signals. Don’t rely on a single nonverbal sign. A person that is touching the nose is not automatically lying.
Set a baseline. Try to find out what is normal behaviour for the person you’re communicating with.
If you meet a foreigner don’t jump into conclusions before you know what kind of cultural difference you can expect. Men and women really are from another planet because of a gender difference in brain function. Women might feel that men are to direct, insensitive, never listening and that they are taking a lot of space. While men often think that women are too emotional, indecisive, use to many gestures and lack authority. The truth is that together they form a great team!
A few things you always should do:
Smile from the inside even when you’re on camera. It is very hard to ignore a genuine smile.
Use open body posture stand straight and look people into the eyes when talking to you. Respect space and personal distance. If the person you are talking to is moving further and further it means that they feel threatened
Try to find out if people agree or don’t agree with you and act further on that knowledge in a nonverbal and verbal way.
Don’t forget to look under the table. People often rehears what to do with arms and hands,but it is very difficult to control your feet so if somebody wants to leave it is possible that their feet are pointing towards to door.
Also remember that we feel closer to someone who’s touched us in a neutral zone for instance on the back or in the area between the shoulder and elbow.
Always be congruent and honest. Never communicate a message you don’t believe in.
And last but not least:
Never underestimate the power of empathy. People are looking for respect, empathy, understanding and they love being thanked and wanted. So act on that!
- By Dana Ketels, Certified Trainer at the Center for Body Language (View profile)