Communication, be it in the workplace or outside of it, is vital to ensure the smooth transition of information between people. The smallest detail can easily be misunderstood and could cause a conflict as a result. Within an office environment, this can lead to very disastrous consequences for morale and productivity.
Many people assume that communication is just about words spoken, but it's actually a far bigger picture than that. Nonverbal communication is just as powerful as verbal, and in some ways, even more so. It’s entirely possible for you to say exactly the right words, but your body language can completely contradict what you’re saying. That leads to confusion and a total lack of clarity.
For that reason it’s important to understand the major do’s of body language so you can be sure to incorporate them into your daily communication offerings. Before we get into 5 very clear do’s of body language, check out this interesting video from a world champion public speaker.
There is some very useful information to take on board there, but to simplify things down, what are the main 5 do’s of body language, to ensure that your communication is clear and effective?
Maintain Eye Contact
Always make sure that you make eye contact with the person you’re speaking to and listening to. This doesn’t have to be constant, but regular eye contact is vital to reassure them that you’re listening to them and you’re present in the moment.
Keep Your Arms Loose
Crossing your arms is a defensive move which puts the other person also on the defensive. Instead, keep your arms loose by your side or rest them on the chair or table you’re standing next to.
Mirror The Other Person’s Stance
If the person you’re speaking to is sitting and relaxed, do the same. If they’re standing an leaning, do the same. Mirroring body language shows the person that you’re listening and it’s also showing, once more, that you’re present in the moment. There is nothing worse than speaking to someone and not being too sure whether they’re actually taking in your words or not!
Nodding along with the other person or making agreeable noises, such as ‘uh-huh’, or ‘ah’ is a way of reassuring the other person that you’re listening. This also makes you look more relaxed and as a result the other person will feel the same. When this type of situation is going on, office conflicts are far less likely than when defensive body language is on show.
Fidgeting is not only hugely distracting but it’s also showing the other person that you’re not really interested in what they have to say, that your mind is elsewhere. Avoid fidgeting with anything and instead, keep your stance relaxed and clear.
You might not be aware of your body language at first, especially if you’ve never really given it much thought. So, for the next few days, be more aware of your own body language, and that of others. By doing this observation exercise, you’ll be able to make improvements and therefore communicate far more effectively as a result.