As human beings, the way we move and use our bodies can be one of the most effective ways of communication. In fact, it can play a much more important role than even the words we speak.
Dr Albert Mehrabian is a psychologist that created a breakdown of effective human communication: 7 percent spoken words, 38 percent tone of voice, and 55 percent body language. Whether or not experts agree on the numbers, what is agreed on is that body language is an essential key component in our communication.
Learning more about body language can not only help us with improving communication ourselves, but to better understand others’ needs, wants and feelings.
With this in mind, I will go through essential body language tips within the common daily settings of work, dating and making friends.
What Are The Key Components Of Body Language?
Body language comes in many forms and often time it can be involuntary. Understanding the different components of our day-to-day body language can help us to be more aware and conscious of how we come across to others.
Facial expressions, eye contact, body movements and gestures, together with speech and tone of voice, can all give off signals both consciously and unconsciously to other people. Therefore, understanding how we use these to our advantage can help with more effective communication overall.
Body Language In The Work Place
The workplace is where we want to show competency, confidence and trustworthiness which can be shown in the body language we use.
Face: Smiling is important when making connections with others and more so with bosses and colleagues. A fake smile can be detected extremely easily so practicing a genuine smile (or Duchenne smile) will make you seem more approachable and trustworthy.
▲ When you smile genuinely, you don’t only raise the muscles at the corner of your mouth, but also the muscles of your cheeks and your eyebrows.
Eyes: Use frequent but direct eye contact – enough that you can notice the colour of their irises . Try the inverted triangle technique by looking from each eye down to the mouth.
▲ Looking into people’s eyes can be embarrassing (I know that feeling!) You can rotate your gaze to make eye contact more natural.
Gestures: The power pose (hands on hips) not only tricks your mind into feeling more confident but conveys confidence to others. Think about how you use your hands – create a firm handshake and when talking, animate your hands to convey passion and enthusiasm.
▲ By putting your hands on your hips, you can make others instantly think you’re more confident and powerful. (via James Clear)
When sitting, crossing your legs in a figure-4 portrays a more confident stance but usually only in men. It subconsciously exposes the genital region and causes the upper body to lean back showing relaxed confidence.
▲ It’s different from the conventional ‘both knees’ leg cross!
Voice: Having a higher pitch in your voice can be perceived by others as you being nervous and less powerful. Try to lower the pitch and speak slowly and clearly to convey control and confidence.
Body Language In Dating
Body language is crucial in how you are perceived by your date. Use these tricks to show you’re interested, relaxed and have a desire to get closer.
Face: Natural laughter lights up the face and is a genuine sign of relaxation and lets the other person see you’re at ease in their company. Not only does it help you as endorphins are released and stress reduced, it can also allow your vulnerabilities to show because your guard is dropped and this can make you more appealing.
▲ Laughter rather than restricted smile enables your date to feel closer to you.
Eyes: Widening the eyes can convey interest and invites a positive response in the other person. Women who widen their eyes become particularly attractive as it’s believed to be associated with the eye/face proportion of babies and elicits an urge to protect and offer love.
Gestures: When chatting with your date, lean forward slightly as this shows genuine interest. When they’re talking make sure you nod and smile to let them know you’re interested in what they’re saying. Slight touching on their upper arm can create feelings of intimacy without inappropriateness, making your date warm to you more.
▲ When your date speaks, don’t forget to lean forward a bit to show how eager to listen what they say.
Voice: Both men and women actually like a deeper tone of voice in the opposite sex. That’s not to say you should have a deep, husky voice but deepening it and speaking slowly and confidently can come across as sexy and alluring.
Body Language When Meeting New People
If you want to become more successful in connecting and making new friends, then it’s important to come across in a friendly, easy-going way as well as showing you have commonalities with each other.
Face: Smiling is obviously key to coming across as friendly and approachable. Make sure you use a natural laugh that will make your smile more genuine.
Eyes: Other than good eye contact, you may consider throwing in a wink as a way of making friends. Yes, it’s more associated with flirting but don’t be afraid to use it in the context of a signal or a shared joke. Winking can elicit a feeling of connection in the other person and you can come off as more fun and confident.
▲ Winking is a signal telling your new friend that you share some hidden knowledge with him/her.
Gestures: We subconsciously mirror the body language of people we are fond of so subtly copy hand gestures, other movements or the way they stand. This will convey a sense that you are mindful of them and genuinely interested. Also make sure you have an open posture so you come across as welcoming and approachable.
▲ Mirroring the body language of your new friend can make you two share more commonalities and feel more connected.
Voice: Showing friendliness with your voice can be achieved with intonation. Having a variety of tone conveys genuine interest, while monotone speech can give the impression of boredom even if you don’t intend it to.
Body language is important in our day-to-day interactions and there are many instances where we have subconscious tendencies that can lead to giving off wrong signals. Being more aware of how you come across using your gestures, voice, facial expressions and eyes can get you ahead in your social interactions and create a positive impression in your life overall.
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