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Body Language & Your Business

How non-verbal cues affect the meaning of your words.

The old saying “It’s not what you say but how you say it” definitely applies here. In fact, research shows that only 7% of our communication involves actual words, w
hile 55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact) and 38% is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice).

The three Cs

Strong and effective body language reflects confidence, competence, and charisma.  It can help you establish an immediate rapport, invoke trust in your message and create an aura of reliability, optimism and power. Even seemingly trivial nuances can have a tremendous impact in the way you are perceived by everyone you communicate with – peers, employees, employers, students, parents and vendors.

A positive professional image helps you sets yourself apart from your peers and excel in business by:

  • Elevating your self-confidence
  • Sharpening your negotiating skills
  • Helping you to quickly earn and maintain respect
  • Transforming you into a more focused leader

Body language reveals whether you’re bored and uninterested or interested and excited, regardless of the words you’re saying. Once you’ve learned how to use your body language to communicate more effectively in the workplace, you will notice a change in how others react to you.

Make and maintain eye contact. Good eye contact shows that you are interested, connected and comfortable. Do this poorly and you’re anxious, unprepared, unorganized, and stressed.

Control your facial expressions. Facial expressions can immediately change the mood of a conversation. Relaxed, pleasant expressions reveal warmth, positive engaging attitudes. Frowning creates the opposite atmosphere by making you appear tense and aloof.

Check your posture. Good posture projects comfort with your situation. Slouching with arms folded across your chest conveys a tired, defensive and uninterested attitude.

Be aware of your hand movements. Avoid deceptive movements such as scratching your nose, your ears or your eyes. Also avoid gestures that indicate distraction or nervousness such as pointing fingers, wringing hands, knuckle cracking, picking at fingernails, or playing with pocket change. If all else fails, keep your hands at your side or in your lap.

Eliminate obstacles between you and your listeners.  Crossed arms create the illusion of a barrier just as physical barriers (podiums, chairs, or computer monitors) do. A folder on a desk can even break your connection.


Universal body language faux pas.

Unfortunately, these faux pas are so commonplace that they are often referred to as just bad manners.

Faux Pas                                                                                              How to Avoid It

Taking calls or texting while talking to others. When engaged in a conversation, silence your cell phone.   If you must take a call, excuse   yourself to a quiet place.
Being distracted during conversations Stay engaged when in your conversations. In person, always   use direct eye contact. When on a call, do not check your email.
Making negative comments about others This should really   go without saying, but its frequency places it on the list.
Exhibiting poor punctuality Tardiness tells others that you don’t value their time. Stay   on schedule by setting reminders that give you plenty of time to avoid tardiness.
Making excuses for failing your commitments Meeting your commitments earn you trust. Don’t embarrass   yourself or create undue stress by taking on what you can’t possibly do.


Reading the body language of others.

Body language can help you improve your response to potential employee issues, unhappy parents and problematic students. Reading body language can also help you make better choices in one of the ost important areas of your business: Hiring.

Ask yourself these questions as you are interviewing each candidate:

  • How do they carry themselves?
  • Is their facial expression negative, tense, shifty or pleasant, engaging and relaxed?
  • How do they present their résumé to you?
  • Do they change their facial expression when they talk about past job experience?
  • Are they sitting erectly or slouching in their chair?
  • Do they fidget, play with their hands, hair or clothing?
  • Are they engaged in your conversation and maintaining eye contact with you?

You can’t make an accurate determination of their fit with your company by body language alone, but by combining your assessment of these details with their resume information, you can make better decisions in placing candidates in your available positions.

Sending unintended signals.

Body language can be deceiving. For example, keeping your hands stiffly by your side or stuck in your pockets can give the impression that you’re insecure – but perhaps you aren’t. Avoiding looking at people simply because you’re too busy consulting your notes or your résumé can lead people to think you’re being less than honest with them – but you really aren’t. Slouching may be read it as a sign that you’re not interested – but you’re just tired.

But because body language impacts the all-important, irreversible “first impression” and provides signals that help you and those around you make judgment calls, it is critical that you learn to maximize its benefits to you and your business.

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