THE LANGUAGE OF THE BODY!
I was recently in a rather intense conversation with a client who suddenly sat up rigidly in his chair, pushed it away from the desk and abruptly crossed his arms across his chest and never said a word!!! Did I get the message? You betcha!!! This was an explicit signal of rejection or disapproval of my message…a clear ‘NO’ to my idea or proposal. I instantly knew to change course try another approach before receiving complete rejection…I eventually did win him over!!!
The Language of the Body can tell you a great deal about the emotional state, at that very moment, of the people around you and provide you with the proper course to adjust and maintain a positive relationship. In my world of sales watching the body is critical to both what I say and how I say it. A woman turned sideways, exposing the side of her purse to me, is indicating resistance to my presentation…open expressive arms as opposed to the dreaded arm lock across the chest, are signals of acceptance or resistance to your message. Think about it when you do it yourself. Suddenly in conversation I find myself in an arm lock, my voice gets louder and the sentences shorter, I am sending a non-verbal message. If I am more aware of my own body language I can learn to adjust immediately to others. Being more aware of self makes you doubly aware of others.
Body Language is of course more than just your physical behaviour. It also involves facial expressions, posture, gestures, eye movement, touch, voice and space. With so much of our lives now conducted by phone or computer are we losing the fine art of face to face communication…just look across that crowded restaurant tonight and look at the “iPhone prayer’…nobody is talking to each other face to face but to someone else in cyberspace!!!
Rob Smentek writing in the journal Chaffeur Driven identifies 7 basic tenets of non-verbal communication. It has been suggested that only 7% of our messages are conveyed through the spoken word…a staggering 93% of communication is conveyed silently…through the language of the body!!!
Here I paraphrase Rob’s Seven Aspects of Non-Verbal Communication…
- Facial Expression
What’s in a smile!!! The surest way to be welcoming, to engage a stranger, to diffuse a tension is through a smile…warm and inviting or cold and cunning…I want to spend time with the former.
- Body Movement
I talk with my hands and often nod or turn my head…in an expression of excitement and enthusiasm…but if you are always clearing your throat, shaking your leg, head still and down…you are conveying nervousness and anxiety. Keep the hands moving but keep them to yourself!!!
This is the most important aspect of first impressions! How you stand, sit, or enter a room conveys confidence and self-assurance. Conversely that slouch says you are indifferent, weak, disinterested, and even afraid.
- Eye Contact
The best way to establish rapport is eye contact. This conveys interest, involvement, commitment and attention. Now it is random contact and doesn’t mean the dreaded direct death stare! Go for the eyes and all areas of the face in a random “I’m paying attention to you‘ approach.
How does tone of voice affect your message? Just ask your children or your romantic other!!! Sarcasm for example often conveys the opposite of the intended message. Speed, volume, pitch, and cadence all influence what is said. It’s not what you say but how you say it that wins the day!!!
The study of space…not outer space but the space around you. People are very protective of their personal space. 6 to 18 inches is the intimate zone reserved for family, close friends and lovers!!! In business you want to be far enough away to make the other person feel comfortable and not too distant as to appear disinterested. Too close, too aggressive…Too far, don’t care!!!
7. Physiological Changes
Body Language is closely connected to emotion. It is spontaneous and cannot be faked. Sweating, blushing, teary eyes, raising the voice are all dead giveaways for someone ill at ease. You are in the comfort business, adapt to your surroundings!!!
In conclusion, when you are in the people business you are really in the emotion business! Managing those emotions and related expectations is at the core of your success. Recognising the changing body language of those around you and adapting your message accordingly will take you to a special place, the winner’s circle!!! Start by humming along to that hit by Ed Sheeran as he sings “I’m in love with the shape of you, I’m in love with your body!!!“
If your business needs a little inspiration give us a call or connect online today!