According to researcher Albert Mehrabian, communication is made up of (1) words, (2) tone of voice, and (3) body language, with body language assuming 55% of the total message. In other words, being skilled at reading body language may just be the closest we’ll ever come to reading someone’s mind, and who doesn’t want to be able to do that?
Being able to gauge more subtleties in communication from a client or colleague not only allows you to be more accommodating to their needs, but could help in allowing you to more effectively express yourself.
One’s ability to read body language is dependent on many factors such as E.Q., but being aware of some of these cues can go a long way in having social benefits. You already wrote it on your CV, so keep reading to be on your way to great communication skills!
When someone feels like they’re on the same wavelength as you, they’re more likely to mirror your body language, and it’s something we all do subconsciously. So if you find a client leaning back in their seat right after you, it could mean they feel bonded, and that you’re on your way to closing the deal.
A genuine smile causes the eyes to crinkle, meaning that if someone is smiling and their eyes don’t change, chances are they’re forcing it.
When someone raises their eyebrows, it can only mean one of three things: surprise, worry, or fear. As a general rule, none of those three emotions are positive in the context of work. If someone does so, it likely means they’re not 100% pleased with the situation.
If someone throws up their arms at every exclamation, then it should be a red flag to you that they’re exaggerating the truth. Controlled, rather than exaggerated gestures, are signs of confidence and transparency. The same goes for exaggerated nodding, which can be a sign of anxiety about agreeing with the other person.
Leaning into a conversation, and even tilting your head slightly is a sign of respect in that you want to give the other person your wholehearted focus and attention.
Let’s not forget to mention that research has shown you retain more information when you leave your legs uncrossed. Rather, try sitting with your legs slightly apart, which is a sign of confidence.
Being tense is an obvious sign of stress or being uncomfortable with the situation. Common culprits are tense shoulders and clenched fists.
A lot of people have the habit of touching their face or hair when talking, which gives the impression that their nervous or distracted from the conversation. Keep your hands free, and bonus points if you have your palms out at any point in the conversation, as it’s a sign of transparency and confidence.
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