Want To Learn A Language? Learn Body Language!
Body language is an important element of everyday communication that can support what you are saying or undermine you. Therefore, being more conscious of the messages your body is sending, will put you at a great advantage. Let’s examine a few techniques that will make you communicate more effectively. First Impression Rule It apparently only takes 7 seconds to form a first impression. It is also difficult to change that first impression, as once you form an opinion about someone or something, you commit and subconsciously want to stay consistent with your own beliefs. Therefore, put an extra effort when meeting people for the first time or presenting to a larger audience, as you won’t get a second chance to make the first impression. Make it count. I learnt a powerful trick at an acting course I took (btw. I really recommend acting classes to anyone who wants to improve their communication skills). In theatre, you work with your characters’ status. For instance, a high status would be a king, while a low one would be a stable boy, with a whole spectrum in between. You will instinctively know how would a king/queen behave, so have some fun and play someone else caricaturing their behaviour. The point of this exercise is to realise that everyone emits a status and is using certain gestures and tone of voice to represent it. The good news is, you don’t really have to be a high-born to appear authoritative, as you are in charge of your perceived status. So, next time before an interview or a big presentation, pick a status you want to display and roll with it! The Power Of A Smile A genuine smile can create a chain reaction. When you smile, the world smiles back at you. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Smile at someone and the chances are they will smile back at you. Through a smile you display a positive attitude and communicate that you are a friend, not a foe, which creates a thread of trust. Smiling can get you build many bridges, although, of course, you need to know when it’s appropriate to smile. Not every situation requires it. If you have an important message to say, then perhaps choosing a smile is not the best call. Nevertheless, smile probably works 9 out of 10 times for everyday situations (don’t quote me, as it’s based on subjective experience rather than a scientific study :)), so it’s worth keeping it in your arsenal. Apart from building stronger connections with others, smile has heaps of health benefits. It relaxes you, lowers your blood pressure and releases endorphins – hormones that make you feel happy. Sometimes all you need is to smile to feel less stressed. Brain is a complex thing, but sometimes it can be easily tricked, as it reacts to a stimulus it receives. Oh, and if you are still not convinced, there is one more for you: you are perceived by others as more attractive when you smile. So, chin up :) Become A Mirror We like people that are more similar to us. Sharing the same interests or being from the same town gives us some instant brownie points. On a more subconscious level, we are more comfortable with people that feel more familiar. You can easily create a deeper level of familiarity if you mirror (to some degree!) the person you are talking to. If they lean forward, also lean slightly forward. If they turn their head, do the same. Mirroring really helps to build better rapport with people in a subtle way, so they don’t even realise why they feel comfortable at your presence. Managing Your Weak Signs We all display them. The trick is to be aware of them and tame them. No one is perfect, and it is fine to show weakness, but don’t let your body language undermine your credibility. My top 5 weak signs are: Playing with things. Very often people start to play with their jewellery, hair or a pen when they feel uncomfortable. It gives a sign that you are stressed and need to comfort yourself. It’s hard to get rid of deep habits overnight, so try to replace them with something else. For instance, get a glass of water, so every time you feel like playing with your wedding ring – take a sip of water instead. Crossed arms. This is a classic. Any article, book or video about body language will talk about uncrossing yourself. When you cross your arms, subconsciously you send a message that you are hostile or not interested at best. When you want to make a good impression, present an open posture to invite others to have a dialogue with you. The disappearing act. Slouching shoulders or taking as little space as possible is practically trying to become invisible. No one has managed to successfully do it, and you should really stop trying too. Appreciate the fact that you are present and let others feel your presence in the room. Uncross your legs, put elbows apart, sit comfortably in your chair. Step by step, get out of your comfort zone and own your space. Avoiding eye-contact. I get it, looking someone straight in the eye doesn’t feel comfortable. It seems daring as if you are invading someone’s personal space. Especially now, in the era of mobile phones, most of us avoid eye-contact. However, it is so easy to make an impact just with a single look! You don’t forget a conversation with someone, who really looks at you. It feels different, you feel special, you got someone’s full attention. Believe me, engaging in eye-contact is one of the most powerful things you can do to give volume to your words. Try it for yourself. Always on your phone. I personally hate when someone is browsing their phone or checking it frequently while having a conversation. It shows disrespect to the person you are speaking with. Show others that you care by switching your phone off, so that they know you care and they have your undivided attention. It really works, especially if you are managing people and want to build better rapport with your team. Like when learning a new language, it is easy to understand the simple rules of the body language, but it will take a long time and practice to truly master it. I still catch myself making the same mistakes, but being more aware of the non-verbal communication helps me to make the impact I desire. article by Gosia Szwed-Pruvot