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Our Body Language Speaks

My facial expressions don’t always use their inside voice.

Before I know it, I’ve communicated a thought or feeling…without saying a word. Most of the time my nonverbals are incredibly accurate.

Has that ever happened to you?

A situation where your nonverbals showed up before you were ready to speak up. If so, this blog post may help you out.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of building relationships with others. What you may not realize, is that before you say a word, communication is always in play. From the moment someone can visually see you, the communication begins.

As women leaders, we speak to individuals, groups, and large audiences on a regular basis. While we may be good at the spoken word, we may be neglecting the most important aspect of connecting with our people. How we look and behave while saying what we say.

Our nonverbals account for 60 to 80 percent of the impact and impressions that we make during social interactions.

Whether we like it or not, our gestures, facial expressions, movements, posture, and mannerisms are more powerful communicators than the words we speak. Our body signals in partnership with our spoken words, matter.

You are sending messages to those around you without verbally speaking a word.

Why is it important to know that your body has language? Well, as a leader, people will need to buy into you, before they buy into your vision, mission, and leadership. The majority of opinions that are formed take place within minutes of observing how you show up and are based on what people see, not hear.

I don’t want this awareness to make you hypersensitive or self-conscious about how you look, but instead, more informed about how to maximize a few body signals that are already in play.

Today, I want to give you 3 quick tips to enhance your nonverbal communication.

TIP 1 | GET ACQUAINTED WITH YOUR FACE. The first thing that people look at when considering whether or not to engage with you, is your face. Now that we are wearing masks in public most of the time, it’s your eyes, which we will get to next.

One of the most basic things you can do to send a nonverbal and welcoming message is to smile. Smiling is a universal gesture that communicates friendliness. People are more likely to strike up a conversation with a friendly face. Does this mean that you have to go around smiling at everyone? No, it doesn’t. But, if your intention is to connect with people and build relationships, a smile is a valuable nonverbal to offer.

Here’s one more thing to keep in mind. Even when talking over the phone or behind a mask, your tone and voice inflection is affected when you’re smiling. So, smiles unseen still offer valuable relationship-building benefits because they can still be heard.

TIP 2 | EYE CONTACT. Eye contact with the person you are communicating with establishes a connection and conveys an interest in what he/she is saying. For some of us, eye contact is not as easy to implement. Start with people you are comfortable with and ask for feedback. Find out if you’re blinking too much, seem unnatural, or look away too long. You can also practice in front of a mirror to see how you look and feel while giving eye contact. This may seem odd, but getting acquainted with your body signals is a powerful tool, especially if you speak in front of others often.

Lastly, when talking to someone, it’s okay to occasionally look away to think or process what is being said. There’s a delicate balance between good eye contact and an uncomfortable stare into someone’s eyes during a conversation. Eye contact may sound simple, but it may not be easy to do naturally and in a way that conveys trust, kindness, or confidence.

TIP 3 | MINIMIZE MOVEMENTS THAT DISTRACT. Fidgeting can be misconstrued as boredom or impatience. This includes nail biting, squirming in your chair, rocking, tapping your pen, and so on. During a conflict, what our body is doing is even more important. Because emotions may be heightened, crossing your arms, clenching your fists, or pacing back and forth may have an escalating impact for you and the other person.

When speaking in front of an audience, pay attention to what you are doing with your arms, hands, and overall body. Are your nonverbals a distraction or asset to the information conveyed?

The bottom line, our body awareness is important as we maximize our nonverbal communication.

Keep in mind that nonverbals can include your body movements, posture, tone of voice, volume, touch, space, gestures, and eye contact.

There are whole books written on body language. This information highlights a few tips that have worked for me while learning to understand the language that my body speaks.

If you interested in learning more about body language, here’s a resource that can get you started:

RESOURCE: The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease

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