Body language is a critical component of how we communicate and interpret communication by others. However, much of what we do is unconscious. And, according to an article published by Forbes, our unconscious mind and “gut” are better at reading body language than our conscious mind. Go figure! In business, the way we communicate can enhance or impair our interactions, long-term relationships, and economic opportunities. Therefore, exploring key aspects of body language can only enhance our overall understanding of communication and when mastered, give us a competitive edge.
Consider these key aspects of body language in business communication:
1. Eye contact. Are eyes really the “window to the soul?” Perhaps. Think about your gut reaction to someone who doesn’t look you in the eyes while speaking. What do you assume? Eye contact is an unambiguous gauge for expressing attentiveness, confidence, and sincerity. Pay more attention to yours. Remember, your goal is to be congruent. Therefore, use your eyes to confirm and align your message.
2. Voice. Voice is an important aspect of body language (non-verbal, but vocal communication) that most people overlook. What’s the difference between “I’ll discuss that with you later” and “I’ll discuss that with you later?” Meaning. It’s your responsibility to give people the right one. So, instead of arbitrarily blurting out words, consider their meaning first. Then use your voice (inflection, rate, and pitch) to accurately craft your message.
3. Facial expressions. Does your face betray you? Let’ hope not. Too often, however, people forget that facial expressions are critical to competent communication. Do you scowl when you shouldn’t? Are you aware of how to express genuine engagement? Hold your face accountable. Remember, no matter what you say, you’ll lose credibility if your face tells another story. And believe me, that’s the last thing you need in business.
4. Posture. Slouch much? Your posture says a lot about who you are and whether you should be taken seriously. Do you mean business? If so, stand tall (shoulders back and spine erect) to communicate confidence and professionalism. Remember that even while sitting, posture is very important. Don’t get sloppy.
5. Gestures. Gestures are an extension of communication whose purpose is to enhance verbal communication. They add impact by showing, not just telling, which adds a layer of engagement for the listener. How can you use gestures to enhance you business communication? Don’t merely rely on words. Raise the stakes. Let your body inspire a visceral reaction in the listener. It’s where the magic unfolds.
Don’t go it alone. Elevate your business communication skills by including your body in every interaction. You’ll be surprised at how effective a communicator you can become!
To your success!
Photo Credit: ImageryMajestic via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Karima Mariama-Arthur is a corporate attorney and the Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. For helpful tips on increasing confidence and solving performance challenges, connect with her on Facebook, and for a quick dose of #Leadership inspiration, follow her on Twitter, @wsrapport.