Psychologist Albert Mehrabian’s research revealed the ‘7%-38%-55% Rule’, which illustrates the relative impact of our words, vocal variety, and body language when communicating feelings and attitudes. When attempting to discern congruency, body language seems to govern whether feelings and attitudes are being discussed authentically and consistently.
This makes sense, as body language is a critical component of how we communicate and interpret communication by others. However, much of what we do is unconscious. And, according to Forbes, our unconscious mind and “gut” are better at reading body language than our conscious mind. In business, the way we communicate can enhance or impair our interactions, long-term relationships, and economic opportunities. Therefore, exploring key aspects of body language can only enhance our overall understanding of communication and when mastered, give us a competitive edge regardless of industry.
If you want to gain a competitive edge in business, upgrade your communication skills beginning with these key aspects of body language:
1. Eye contact. It’s one of the first levels of connection that you share with another person. It happens before you even say a word. Are eyes really the “window to the soul?” Perhaps. Think about your gut reaction to someone who doesn’t look you in the eyes while speaking. What do you assume? Eye contact is an unambiguous gauge for expressing attentiveness, confidence, and sincerity. Pay more attention to yours. Remember, your goal is to be congruent. Therefore, use your eyes to confirm and align your message.
2. Facial expressions. Too often people forget that facial expressions are critical to competent communication. Do you scowl when you shouldn’t? Are you aware of how to express genuine engagement? Hold your face accountable. Remember, no matter what you say, you’ll lose credibility if your face tells another story. And believe me, it’s the last thing you need in business.
3. Voice. Voice is an important aspect of body language (non-verbal, but vocal communication) that most people overlook. What’s the difference between “I’ll discuss that with you later” and “I’ll discuss that with you later?” It’s your responsibility to convey exactly what you mean. So, instead of arbitrarily blurting out words, consider their meaning first. Then use your voice (inflection, rate, and pitch) to accurately craft your message.
4. Posture. Slouch much? Your posture says a lot about who you are and whether you should be taken seriously. Do you mean business? If so, stand tall (shoulders back and spine erect) to communicate confidence and professionalism. Remember that even while sitting, posture conveys a very important message about mindset. Don’t get sloppy.
5. Gestures. Gestures are an extension of communication whose purpose is to enhance verbal communication. They add impact by showing, not just telling, which adds a layer of engagement for the listener. How can you use gestures to enhance you business communication? Don’t merely rely on words. Raise the stakes. Let your body inspire a visceral reaction in the listener. It’s where the magic unfolds.
Have you been glossing over the impact that your body makes while communicating? If so, now is a good time to start paying more attention. Elevate your business communication skills by including your body in every interaction. ‘
To your success!
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, www.wordsmithrapport.com