In communication, words are only a tip of the iceberg. The non-verbal component ranges from anything between 60% & 93% of the total communication process. This implies that most of what really matters in communication is what’s unsaid. The non-verbal aspects constitute body language, also referred to as the silent language. Any human relation heavily relies on effective communication; therefore your body language is critically important since it plays a huge role in communication.
Body language is mainly a function of the subconscious mind, meaning it just happens by reflex. However, one can take conscious & deliberate steps to improve their body language; here are some of the ways:
Make Substantial Eye Contact
It must be done moderately in a balanced way & not overly done as that might end up disconcerting the next person. This helps you build rapport & pay attention more by eliminating the propensity of focusing on distractions. The other person also feels they are being listened to if eye contact is maintained. Scientifically, if there is eye contact there is a reduced inclination to lie for both parties since eyes easily sell you out if you are lying.
Gesturing more with your hands significantly improves your body language. There is a natural tendency of people to get their attention hooked on any immediate movements. Gesturing encourages people to pay more attention to you by their being transfixed on your hands and arm movements. Gesturing also boosts your stamina and confidence when speaking to people. Many people admit to feeling nervous if their hands are stationary & there is some considerable space in front of them, thus gesturing gives an illusion of a lesser space between you and whoever you are speaking to. When expressing or emphasizing a point, gesturing gives more traction to your points.
You can deliberately & proactively mirror another person. This is a powerful way to boost your body language but remember, don’t overdo it. The idea here is to mirror the other person’s voice tone or their sitting/standing postures and so on. This creates a sense in them that you are relating to them & what they are saying and this encourages them to communicate openly.
Carefully Consider Proximity
It’s important to note that personal space/distance is central to communicating with someone. You must ensure you are close but not too close; getting too close can offend most people if the nature of your relationship doesn’t allow it or if it’s a stranger. However, you shouldn’t be too far either as this entails increased space in between thus giving room to physical barriers. When talking to anyone or a group of people, the distance in between is referred to as the gulf of destruction. This is because the bigger the space, the more the barriers that are likely to get the attention of the ones you are talking to at the expense of them paying attention to you. Pay attention to the one you are speaking to, if you are too close their reaction will show.
There are many reasons as to why someone would fidget, be it nervousness, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, fear, etc. Fidgeting is not advisable when communicating with anyone. It may be misconstrued to mean you are not being truthful, distracted, etc and results in people most likely concluding the wrong things about you. You need to learn to be calm and steady, ensuring you don’t make any unnecessary movements. Fidgeting can even make the one you are speaking to or the one speaking to you very uncomfortable.
Consciously Control Your Voice
It’s advisable to pay particular attention to your voice tone, pitch & pace. Generally, a low (but sufficiently audible) voice tone is regarded as courteous. This localizes whatever you are saying to just yourself & your subject or audience. Being too loud can lead to discomfort for others as they may feel uneasy about your loudness drawing other people’s attention to your conversation. Your pitch and tone must flow in unison with the nature of what you will be saying; the content of your words mustn’t be detached from your voice pitch or tone. Your voice pace must be steady, with an optimum speed that allows easy listening & understanding; fast talking can defeat the purpose of communication altogether.
Pay Attention to Your Upper & Lower Limbs
People unknowingly do things that are reflective of negative overtones. For instance, crossing your arms or legs is indicative of guarding oneself. If your feet are pointing away and not in the direction of the person you are talking to, this reflects lack of interest in talking to that person. Understandably you might do all this absent-mindedly without even meaning anything negative but someone might interpret it otherwise. Thus, it’s important to ensure you don’t cross arms or legs & that you always point your feet in the direction of the person you are talking to.
Your Posture Matters
Whether seated or standing, being straight and slightly leaning in towards the person you’re interacting with is advised. This indicates dignity & shows the next person that you are keenly interested in what they are saying.
Smile, Nod & Laugh
Incorporate these three aspects in a conversation but only when it suits the setting & what is said. This shows that your emotions are engaged in the conversation, whilst also making the conversation lively. It also makes others comfortable & at ease knowing they are being given apt attention.
Make it an endeavour to be proactive when it comes to body language. However, bear in mind that body language is mainly informed by the subconscious mind. Thus, the most effective way to revolutionize your body language is to deliberately listen to, watch & read material that positively feeds your subconscious mind. In so doing, exhibiting positive body language will become passive & effortless.