Actions really do speak louder than words. Take a moment to think about what your body language, or non-verbal behavior, is saying about you.
Your body language is constantly speaking for you and you probably do not even realize at the time it is happening. The words that we speak have limitations, but the non-verbal behaviors that we use are much more effective. Body language translates into messages that express motivations, intent and come across as more genuine. Even when you are silent you are communicating.
Here are some things to look for when reading your body language:
Your Voice – Paralinguistic refers to the vocal elements in our voice. These include the pitch, tone, loudness, softness and inflections. These behaviors get across different messages. For example, when you are speaking using these elements you will be able to spark interest to what you are a saying. If someone who speaks in monotone they will come across as boring and dull.
Eye Contact – Eye contact helps to keep the flow of communication, signals that you are interested and adds warmth and credibility to any conversation. It also communicates sincerity and gets your message directly across. On the other hand, if you avoid eye contact it gives off different messages. Avoiding eye contact can send a message that you are unprepared or guilty. Many times individuals who are trying to hide something will avoid direct eye contact.
Bright Smile – The power of a genuine smile is a tremendous positive non-verbal behavior. Smiling spreads happiness, friendliness and warmth. An individual who smiles frequently gives the perception as being more likable, friendly and approachable.
Gestures – Gestures are a very powerful type of body language. If you are speaking and use no gestures you may be viewed as boring and inanimate. Crossing your arms can signal anger or a feeling of lack of openness. If you play with your clothing or jewelry while you are speaking it is very distracting and you will lose your audiences attention. Open palms are viewed as a positive gesture when having a conversation with an individual or group of people. They give the perception that you are telling the truth. If you touch your face, jewelry or clothing while speaking, you will come across as nervous and convey a lack of confidence.
Posture – Body posture is another non verbal behavior. If you stand side by side when talking to an individual there may be a type of disconnect since there is no face to face communication. It is useful to be aware that good posture displays confidence and will help to hold the attention of a single individual or a large group of people.
We need to be cognate of our body language and the messages that we are sending. A very powerful tool, nonverbal communication can be positive or negative. The intent of any conversation or presentation can totally change by the non verbal communication we display.