There seems to be quite a bit of discussion about reading people's body language at the moment.
For example, when in a meeting how do you manipulate your body language to present a "more powerful you" or how do you leverage your non-verbals to get the message across?
Are you still awake? Yeah, I struggled with the leveraging of non-verbals too.
Ultimately, what we need to be aware of is that our body language accounts for anywhere from 50% to 93% of our communication.
Depending on which report you believe, anywhere over 50% says to me that it is something you need to understand and take seriously when you are communicating. Because if you are saying one thing and your body language says another, there is a significant proportion of your message that is jarring with your audience and diminishing its impact.
I have worked with a lot of senior executives over the years who felt uncomfortable voicing an opinion about an issue, speaking publicly or speaking to the media. Their body language was usually fairly demonstrative of their discomfort too.
So in order to get the message across as effectively as possible, there were a few things I did to help them become more aware of their body language and external perception.
I thought I'd share a few of them with you.
Sounds simple enough, but often when the pressure is on we hold our breath. As a result everything else tenses up resulting in very wayward gestures, which tend to be perceived by others as flapping. Your aim is to behave naturally, so breathing deeply and calmly will help you do this.
- Sit up straight, but lean in a little
When you sit at a desk all day your posture gets very little attention, so when you sit up straight and lean in, you are showing that you are interested in what you are either saying or hearing.
Also, people can tell when you are slouching when you're on the phone too, as your voice lacks the energy and passion needed to convey your message.
- Listen, actively
Tune in to what people are saying and be present. As much as you are communicating, people are communicating with you. They might be suffering from nerves and be flapping but have something really valuable to add. It's a very interesting exercise just to observe this, or better yet, help them better articulate themselves.
- Watch those around you
Just as others respond to your body language, you need to tap into theirs. There is great skill in reading a room and moving to where the energy is and building rapport with those who are displaying open body language. There's nothing wrong with standing back and taking it in before making yourself known.
If you smile, they smile, even over the phone. Just don't giggle it's both distracting and annoying.
If this has interested you, you might like to take a look at a TED talk by Amy Cuddy - the link is on this page - http://andersonadvisory.com.au/articles/