Understanding Body Language in Business
Body language is a vital part of interpersonal communication. In fact, a very large part of having good communication skills has to do with one's body language and this type of communication is much more powerful and effective than any word that can be said. This important type of communication is one of the first things people will notice when they meet you. Believe it or not, being able to read body language well can help get you further in life whether it be for business or personal reasons. Have you ever taken a moment to think about what you are saying with your body language, or how you are coming across to others? If you haven't, then now is the time.
Certain body gestures can reveal a great deal about an individual. For that reason, it is imperative to learn how to spot some of the best and worst body gestures, as well as what the different gestures imply. This will not only help you to read other people, but you will be more aware of how your body language is being portrayed to others. This form of communication will not only help you to be more aware of how you are presenting yourself to others, but you will also be able to read other people well. This skill will allow you to get further along in all aspects of life because it will lead to much better communication and interaction with others.
"The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately
determines the quality of our lives." - Tony Robbins
Why good nonverbal communication skills are important
Being aware of the many different types of body language can explain a lot about a person, such as if they appear trustworthy or not. For example, if you know what to look for, you can tell if someone is interested, bored, defensive, and much more. Nonverbal communication can make all the difference in the world because it allows for better interpersonal communication which is an essential skill to learn in life. Below are the top ten best and worst body gestures that can be used in a business setting. While going through the lists, be sure to remember that all of these can be applied to your personal life as well.
Top 10 Best Body Gestures
1. Smile and be confident. A positive outlook will get you far in life. Even if you don't feel confident, it is important to portray it. After all, the more positive your outlook is on certain situations, the more confident you will become. For one, being confident will help other people to be more comfortable around you. Stop the negative thinking now because that won't help anything, and this type of toxic behavior will work against you. Instead, remember to focus on the positive things only, and be confident in what you are doing. Always make sure that you are smiling and not frowning, and make it a point to be both confident and friendly, but at the same time, be sure that your smile is not forced.
2. Direct eye contact. One of the most important body gestures to remember is to make direct eye contact. This body gesture shows that you are listening and are interested in what is being said. If you are in a large group, be sure to make eye contact with everyone, and don't focus on only one person. Also, don't break eye contact too soon because this could imply that you are not trustworthy.
3. Be interested and listen. People like to talk, so always be sure that you are listening and look interested in what the other person is saying. If you are genuinely interested in what other people have to say, then that is going to show.
4. Sit up straight. Not only is good posture advantageous for your health, but at the same time, it also exudes confidence. It is essential to sit up straight, and not to hold your head down. If you lean forward, you could come off as aggressive to others, but on the other hand, if you lean back, you could come off as lazy or arrogant. So, keep your head up and shoulders back at all times and be aware of your posture when both sitting and standing.
5. Facial expressions. Your facial expressions will say a lot about you, and people will be watching for your reaction when it comes to things such as business negotiations or other types of meetings. One of the most important things to remember is to smile naturally, keep your chin up, and keep your eyes level. This will send a message of positivity and trustworthiness. Being able to control your facial expressions will help you immensely, and it is something that you should spend some time thinking about.
6. Look like you are listening. In this day and age, people are constantly connected to their cell phones 24/7. While it is wonderful that technology has evolved so much, it is also comes with many downsides. It is essential to put down the phone and actually listen to what people are saying. This will also help increase participation if you are speaking with a group of people. Being attentive will imply that you care about what people have to say and it says a lot about your personality. Other people want to do business with people who genuinely show interest and are engaged.
7. Nod when listening to someone speak. Nodding once every once in a while when someone is speaking, will imply that you are not only listening, but are actually interested in what others are saying. A nod will help get the message across that you agree with what the other person is saying, as well it also shows encouragement.
8. Relax your body. People are going to sense if you are not at ease in certain situations, especially in some type of meeting. The first thing to try is to relax your shoulders and take some deep breaths. Since a lot of people hold a lot of their tension in the shoulders and neck area, don't be afraid to move your shoulders and neck a little in order to loosen up a bit. In addition, being able to control breathing actually has a lot to do with good body language because it will help you be more relaxed. This will lead to more confidence which will be passed along to the people involved. As discussed above, it is a very important part of learning and maintaining good communication skills.
9. Keep your head up. Don't look down because it will imply to other people that you are not paying attention and you don't want to hear what others have to say. Keeping your head down can imply many things such as boredom or disagreement in what is being discussed. So, it is important to keep your head up at all times when either speaking or being spoken to.
10. Mirror the other person's behavior. This is an important behavior to keep in mind, and it is something that will need to be both practiced and observed over time. If you are unaware of this technique, the act of mirroring is to allow your body to reflect the other person's behavior. This is a wonderful way to build a good rapport with other people because it reflects both interest and enthusiasm in what is being said. It is important that the act of mirroring is done subtly, as it is definitely an art to be learned. This is a proven method that has been researched and found to be very effective in many different types of social and business settings.
"What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Top 10 Worst Body Gestures
1. Not making eye contact. There is a fine balance when it comes to making eye contact. It is important to look people in the eye, but don't stare. However, if you don't make direct eye contact, it can appear as if you are lying or have something to hide. It is also important that you do not look down to study your hands or mess with your fingernails. Not only is this rude, but it will make it look like you are not interested in what the other person has to say.
2. Crossing your arms. When your arms are crossed, it normally implies that you are defensive about something. For this reason, it is important to always keep your arms at your sides, especially if you are discussing an important topic with other people. In addition, it is important to ensure not to look stiff and to have a natural look at all times.
3. Fidgeting. This is not only one of the worst body gestures, but it is also one of the most annoying to the people around you. It is imperative to focus on the other person, and don't be fidgety at all. This includes things such as playing with a pen, chewing on your nails, moving your hands around a lot, or anything else that can make it appear as if you aren't paying attention to what the other person is saying.
4. Appearing stressed or anxious. It is very important not to show your stress or anxiety to others because there is nothing positive that can come from it. For one, it can show weakness which has no place in the world of nonverbal communication. Even if you are anxious or stressed, one of the quickest and best fixes for this is to smile more. Not only will it put you at ease, but it will look as if you are confident even if you aren't.
5. Negative facial expressions. It might be a good idea to take a day to pay attention to what you are portraying to others with your facial expressions. The following facial expressions can give off the wrong vibe to the people around you thus creating a negative interpersonal communication experience: frowning, biting your lip, arching your eyebrows, flared nostrils, and scowling, just to name a few. These types of facial expressions can imply many things such as you are upset, defensive, and bored, just to name a few. In addition, never touch your face, as this implies insincerity, and even distrust.
6. Weak handshake. Believe it or not, your handshake can say a lot about you. Be sure to always give a firm handshake that exudes self-confidence. A weak handshake won't make a good impression, and it will imply that you are not confident in the situation.
7. Checking the time. When you take time to look at your phone, watch or even a clock on the wall or a desk, it implies that you don't want to be there and you have more important things that you could be doing. So, never look at the time when someone is in the middle of discussing something with you. Not only will this make a bad impression, but it can also be seen as being rude.
8. Tapping your fingers, pen, etc. While speaking with someone or meeting someone for the first time, you should never tap anything because this will imply impatience or annoyance to the other person. So, never, ever tap your fingers, pen, or feet because you want people to know you are interested in what they are saying.
9. Don't be fake. Probably one of the most important things you can do is not be fake. This is one thing that many people will pick up on and it will not reflect well on you. And remember, you only have one chance to make a good impression. Always be genuine and let people know that you are honestly interested in what they have to say. This will get you far in both your business and personal life.
10. Don't stand too close or too far away. Give people their space. Never impede in someone else's space because this can give others the wrong impression. Standing too close to someone can imply aggression or being too pushy. On the other hand, standing too far away can make people feel that you are being standoffish for some reason, and it could make people suspicious. Just always be aware of a person's personal space. If the person you are talking to takes some steps back, you are probably too close.
The power of good body language
As you can see, there are many things to do - as well as many things not to do - when it comes to using body language to your advantage. First impressions are crucial when it comes to being successful in life, whether it is personal or business. Once someone forms an opinion of you, they rarely change their minds, so make the first time count. In one very popular and famous study regarding body language, Dr. Albert Mehrabian found evidence that when it comes to determining our perception of someone's likeability, body language accounts for 93 percent of communication, while words account for the remaining 7 percent. The different types of body language that he studied included the following: appearance, posture, touch, facial expression, gesture, tone of voice, and eye contact. The bottom line is to not underestimate the power of body language, and what it can do for your overall reputation, as well as how people perceive you.
As you go along in life, things will be much easier if you have effective communication skills. When it comes to business, this particular type of communication can help expand your leadership skills. Be aware of what not only what is going on around you, but also of how you are portraying yourself to others. Practice makes perfect, so take the time to think about the different ways in which you communicate. There is always something that everyone can improve when it comes to effective body language.
Important tip: Keep a journal of your body language for a week so you can get a better idea of how you are coming across to people. Being mindful of this can make like a little easier when it comes to communicating with people in all areas of your life.
No matter where you presently are in your life, good communication skills are essential. In fact, this type of skill is a necessity in order for one to be successful in every aspect of life. Stay ahead of the game and give the right impression each and every time. In order to achieve this, it is essential to be mindful of your actions, as well as other people's actions, at all times. Always remember that being aware of your body language will make you more resourceful. There are many different things to remember and you will learn a lot of things along the way. Body language doesn't have to be something hard to learn. Just remember to be yourself, be natural and smile, because by doing these three simple things, you can't go wrong.
"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said."
- Peter Drucker
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