It is really difficult for me to say the title of this post without channeling Olivia Newton- John and launching into a very subpar version of her ‘Let’s Get Physical’ video. In fact, as I type I am having a strong urge to don a headband, leotard, leggings and legwarmers for the rest of the day! Wait! If I didn’t lose you with that visual please stick around because there really is a message in this detour.
Communication skills are important in personal relationships and business. Unfortunately, the bulk of the information and training focuses on the spoken word, often leaving the body language to chance. And trust me; the ‘body talk’ speaks volumes! The tricky part about non-verbal is we all pick up on it and know what it means but if you confront the non-verbal communicator they can easily claim they don’t know what you are talking about. Most non-verbal communication clues can be positive or negative but I have found my audience members intuitively know what’s going on and rarely make mistakes when reading the non-verbal clues. So what’s the deal? If we can see it in others and know the clues, why can’t we control it in ourselves?
I’ll tell you why, we are creatures of habit or in denial or maybe we just don’t care enough to pay attention to our own ‘body talk’. If you are choosing not to master your non-verbal communication skills you could be sending mixed signals and quite possibly hurting your relationships at home and work.
Here some non-verbal clue categories and what they communicate:
Body Posture or Angle: We say we are listening but clearly have our body turned away as if to block connection. The reverse is, we respect or like someone so we fully face them, lean forward and perhaps touch them lightly if we agree on a point or view they share.
Eye Contact or No Eye Contact: Clearly a clue of how someone feels about you and can tell so much more than the words they choose to share. Pretty obvious; eye contact means you are present, darting eyes or no contact means you’d rather be somewhere else and you are not present.
General Attention Clues: We feign attention yet continue shuffling papers, taking texts, checking calendars, etc. during a conversation or meeting. You can say you are there but in truth you are not.
Arms and Legs: Crossed arms clearly say you’re not agreeing, not interested or you are guarded while your words may say ‘sure that’s a good idea and I will get back to you on that.’ In addition, crossed body parts can mean you are nervous and need to protect yourself until you feel more secure communicating.
What to know more about non-verbal communication? Check out this body language guide on The Grindstone website; http://thegrindstone.com/uncategorized/a-guide-to-the-importance-of-body-language-in-business-298/ .
Now where did I put that leotard?