Body language is the unspoken element of communication that we use to reveal our true feelings and emotions. Just like your mother can detect that something is wrong with you just by your facial expressions or know you are hiding a secret by studying your behaviour, understanding body language can help you at your workplace as well. Body language is a form of nonverbal communication that we use to express and interpret ourselves. Learning and understanding body language can improve your interactions at the workplace and put you at an advantage.
The Significance Of Body Language
1. To Convey Meaning
Certain words have multiple meanings and sometimes they can be misinterpreted or misheard. Learning to use a confident body language in addition to your words can prevent miscommunication.
2. To Establish Connection
It’s important to establish connection and trust and can be done using body language in the workplace. If your gestures are not in full congruence with your verbal message, people subconsciously perceive duplicity, uncertainty, or internal conflict.
3. To Understand The Entire Conversation
There are always two distinct conversations happening at the same time – verbal and nonverbal communications. While verbal communication is obviously important, it’s not the only message being sent. Without the ability to read body language, we miss crucial elements to conversations that can positively or negatively impact a business.
4. To Show Interest
You want to demonstrate to others that you are interested in what they have to say and you do so by your eye contact, posture, and other body language signals that communicate attentiveness and interest.
8 Important Types Of Nonverbal Communication
The way you sit, stand, or even hold your head, communicates a lot about your attitude and emotional states. The way you move and carry yourself communicates a wealth of information to the world.
2. Eye Contact
Eye contact is one of the primary body language skills. Eye contact is also important in maintaining the flow of conversation and for gauging the other person’s interest and response.
3. Facial Expressions
The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. Our facial expressions can reveal our true feelings about a particular situation and can determine if people trust us. Being aware of your own facial expressions is also important, especially in a professional environment.
Body language in communication includes voice. It’s not just the content that matters, but how you say it too. It includes volume and pitch of voice too. For example, speaking too loudly can make the person you are talking to feel you are trying to speak over them or overpower their opinion.
Physical space or proxemics refers to the distance between people as they interact. The space around you is often referred to as your personal space, which generally is between 6-18 inches around your body. If someone violates this space in a professional setting, it will put you off. It’s important to stand close enough so that they can hear you and communicate effectively, without violating their personal space.
Many body language interactions begin with physical touches like a hug or a handshake. A weak or limp handshake may show a lack of confidence, while a firm handshake conveys strength and respect. Acceptable touch varies between cultures and one should be aware of general customs. Unwelcome touch can cause a person to feel uncomfortable, so it’s important to make sure your touch is always professional in the workplace.
Gestures can be some of the most direct and obvious methods of reading body language signals. Waving, pointing, and using the fingers to indicate numerical amounts are all very common and easy to understand gestures. Some actions you make may convey anxious or nervous feelings or distract others. It is helpful to know your involuntary gestures so that you can avoid doing them in certain situations like job interviews or presentations.
These are changes in the body that are felt during stressful situations like blinking rapidly, sweating, or blushing. It’s almost impossible to control these changes, so they give away your feelings to people around you. But being more confident will reduce the impact of these changes.
How To Improve Body Language In Communication?
Non-verbal communication is a back and forth process that happens during a conversation and requires real-time adjustment. To learn how to improve body language one needs to focus and be aware of the present moment.
1. Managing Stress
Stress can make you miscommunicate both verbally and nonverbally. When you are stressed, it is difficult to have positive body language and can make you misread other people or give out negative nonverbal signals. It is of utmost importance to learn how to manage stress during the moment. If you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to calm down before rejoining the conversation. Take the time out to collect yourself, calm down, and think positive thoughts. You can also use your senses by viewing your favourite photos, listening to good music, etc to relax.
2. Develop Emotional Intelligence
In order to use body language in communication, one needs to be aware of our emotions and their effects. You should also be able to develop an awareness of the emotions of other people so that you can understand their feelings. This will help you create trust in relationships by sending the right non-verbal signals. For example, if we notice a coworker angry we can figure out the cause behind it and help them by finding a solution instead of getting frustrated at them. Developing emotional intelligence can help gain greater control over our feelings and at the same time help you develop deeper bonds with others
How To Read Body Language?
Once you have learnt the ways of improving your body language, it is equally important to understand how to read body language. This is done by reading the nonverbal signals sent by others.
Learn to look for gaps in their body language meaning nonverbal communication. The body language should reflect the words one is saying and in case they do not match up there might be some internal issue. Similarly, the types of nonverbal communication mentioned above should be looked at together as a whole. A single gesture might not indicate anything, but if all their body language is either negative or positive will give you an idea of the current situation. This can be supported by your instincts. Generally, your gut feelings indicate a mismatch between verbal cues and body language which is picked up by your body. Be aware of cultural differences and don’t rush into judging the nonverbal cues you are picking up from someone from a different country, as they may mean something entirely different.
Important Tips And Takeaways For Better Body Language
- Smiling is a positive signal that says “I’m friendly and approachable”
- Be relaxed, but don’t slouch! Sit or stand upright and place your hands by your sides
- Use a firm handshake but don’t get carried away. Don’t make it too long or painful for the other person
- Body language in public speaking can help reduce nervousness and make you appear confident. Have good posture, be audible enough that everyone can hear you properly, and use hand gestures to engage the audience
- During interviews and negotiation, one can use body language meaning nonverbal cues like relaxing your body, looking interested, and maintaining eye contact
- Negative body language includes folded arms, tense facial expressions, body turned away, and poor eye contact
- Positive body language includes open body positions, upright posture, relaxed and open facial expressions, and regular eye contact
Understanding body language can help you better communicate with others and express oneself in an effective manner. Body language should be used in conjunction with verbal communication and the context of the situation. Improving nonverbal communication will help others understand your emotions and make you a better leader.