When we think of communication, we often think of verbal communication. But often our words are subverted by an even more powerful form of communication. A turn of the head, an unintended grimace or a sigh of relief can undermine even our most sincere words.
Our body language is one of the most powerful ways we speak to one another. Are you truly aware of what you’re saying?
According to research done by UCLA, 55% of communication is done by body language alone.
How we communicate with others is a part of being our Best Self. It’s about saying what we want to say and making sure our message comes across. By having a clearer understanding of body language cues, you’ll be on your way to being your BestSelf and finally, speak the language of success.
You’ve heard the expression “Eyes are the window to the soul”, but it’s also a major way we communicate our feelings. From eye rolls to smile crinkles, our eyes speak volumes.
This is an intentional movement to display disgust, annoyance or even anger. If you find yourself wanting to roll your eyes for any reason, try meeting the other person’s eyes and giving your full attention to what they’re saying. By distracting yourself and meeting the speaker’s gaze, it will relay to them that you’re paying attention - something that’s valued in any work environment.
Smiles are easily faked but when a smile reaches the eyes with a hint of a crinkle, it’s genuine. Assess yourself when you’re at work. When you smile, is it genuine? If not, it’s time to invest in yourself and your well-being. You may be doing a great job but success at work goes beyond your annual review. It’s also about how much enjoyment, satisfaction, and fulfillment you’re getting out of your job. For a more in-depth look at how you can improve your performance, check out these 13 ideas from BestSelf.
Jaw position can be a big giveaway with how you’re feeling, especially if you’re angry or annoyed. Clenching your jaw reveals anger while jutting your chin out shows defiance. Often we react with our jaws when we’re trying to avoid saying what we think… but try counting to ten in your head, or taking deep meditative breaths to help combat those negative feelings instead. If you need to take a step back, take a few quiet minutes to write about how you’re feeling. Expressing your emotions down on paper keeps you in a positive mindset.
The way you carry yourself is an announcement to the world about how you feel about yourself. Use these tips to make sure you’re presenting your Best Self in the workplace.
An indicator of low self-esteem is slouched shoulders. When you walk into a room, try to keep your shoulders squared and your head level to meet another’s gaze. Likewise, when you’re sitting amongst coworkers and superiors, sit up straight. Not only will keeping your head up keep you from falling asleep during those boring meetings, it’ll also make you more alert and focused on what’s being said.
When someone crosses their arms, they are sending a clear message, “I don’t like what you’re saying”. Whether you’re in a board meeting or in a personal conversation, this position is a strong indicator of your emotion. Likewise, Psychology Today points out that when a person fidgets with their hands they’re showing boredom or anxiety. If you have trouble with fidgeting, it’s best to keep your hands folded gently in your lap or hanging casually by your side when you’re in a standing position.
Handshakes are often the first impression others get of us. That’s why it’s so crucial to nail down your perfect handshake. A strong, firm handshake exudes confidence. As you meet new people, think about the positive encounter you’d like to have with them. It will help keep your handshake firm and confident.
When people lean forward while sitting, it shows that they’re eager and paying attention. But sometimes it can be too much. Forbes cautions against it calling it, “overly solicitous or even threatening”. Instead, try sitting up straight and in a neutral position. Let your eagerness show in your face and words. Such as in a smile or a confident nod. Your positiveness is something that can be infectious and a great way to contribute to a happy work environment.
Crossed legs is one of the more difficult body languages to read since it can mean a variety of things. Crossed legs can also mean that the person is comfortable, or defensive; especially if the arms are crossed simultaneously with their legs. Observe yourself or the person you're interacting with. According to Psych Mechanics, a person will subconsciously cross their arms and legs as a defensive mechanism to protect their vital organs. Try and keep your posture open if possible. You will send the message that you are intrigued and welcoming.
The next time you’re with a group of people, take a peek at where everyone’s toes are pointed. If their feet are pointed towards the group they are engaged and feeling included. If their feet are pointed away, they want the conversation to end.
Patience is a virtue. In the workplace, patient people are more likely to succeed. So next time you’re waiting for something at work, rather than tapping your feet, try occupying yourself mentally instead. Checking off your to-do list in your head, recalling your latest meeting or even planning your upcoming weekend helps you save the toe-tapping for dance nights!
There are hundreds of ways in which your body speaks for you. Whether it’s a friendly smile or a kind gesture, you are constantly communicating to those around you. By being aware of what you’re subconsciously saying, you’ve gained a very powerful communication tool.
Learn your own language - know what you’re saying even when you’re not speaking. You’ll not only find that you’ll have better interactions with others but that your message always comes across loud and clear.z