Have you ever walked up to someone and, before you’ve said a word, felt a natural link between the two of you? That is the result of unconsciously reading body language and coming into sync. You can consciously read body language and control your own body. The benefits of learning how to do this are enormous. Let’s discuss how understanding body language can help you master communication.
You’ll Truly Know Your Audience
One of the challenges for speakers is reading the audience. Don’t wait for an angry rebuttal at the Q&A or eventual yawn of a bored audience member to tell you that you need to change your tone. Learn to read their body language. When you can tell they are getting restless and bored, you can shift tones, add jokes or otherwise alter your delivery. If you can determine when people are angry or offended, you can offer conciliation or add context before something escalates, though you can’t necessarily prevent every “triggered” person from blowing up and blowing something out of proportion.
If you can determine who is in agreement and who is reluctant, you can shift your list of justifications or recommendations to the holdouts, increasing the odds your message will be accepted – or that you’ll make the sale. You will be able to recognize when someone isn’t interested in you and stop trying to sell yourself, whether it is a job interview or asking someone out on a date.
You Could Communicate with Far Fewer Words – or None
Our bodies express a diverse array of emotions. How you carry yourself affects what they think of you. It makes or breaks the first impression. If you learn the ins and outs of body language, you’ll be able to ensure that there is a positive first impression. You’ll reinforce your message with your body language instead of subtly undermining it. Now you’ll need fewer words and far less justification for your position, because others sense you don’t really believe in it. You’ll seem well-spoken, because you don’t have to say as much. Little things like directing people’s attention with gestures instead of spoken statements or communicating emotions with expressions instead of spoken words go a long way. That’s aside from the clear messages we convey with positive gestures like a thumbs up and negative gestures like a profane one.
You could kill a job interview before you walk into the room with actions like walking slouched or dragging your feet. Forcing your shoulders back and giving a strong handshake in an attempt to look powerful comes across as inauthentic. You’d have to give a stellar interview to offset that negative first impression. Conversely, a power pose like a straight spine, upright head, walking with a sense of purpose will give a positive impression. They’ll associate you with competence and confidence, even if you gave the same responses to interview questions as the first person. You’ll be more likely to get the job, too.
When you understand and are aware of your own body language, you’ll be less likely to let slip gestures that undermine trust and lines of communication. You will be able to suppress the roll of the eyes or purse of the lips that betrays your inner emotions. You’ll avoid the mixed signals that hurt the entire exchange and could shut down the lines of communication.
You’re Recognize Openings of All Kinds
How you sit and stand tells others how open you are to interaction. If you sit with your arms and legs crossed, others will stay away from you because it looks like you’re hostile to the world. If you’re sitting down in a meeting with someone and take that stance, you’ll drive others away even as you ask for their help or tell them to trust you.
If you sit or stand with an open stance, they’ll feel able to approach you. How you hold your head, smile and carry your body affect how others feel about you and what they think you think of them. The people you’re asking for open feedback will believe you mean it, and you’ll receive more information without subliminal fear or anger getting in the way.
When you understand body language, you’ll be able to tell how close and far you should be to someone when talking to them. We truly associate closeness with intimacy. Standing too close to someone who considers you a stranger will intimidate or alienate them. Fail to read their opinion of the situation, and that hand on a shoulder or pat on the back could become a sexual harassment complaint against you. The safest solution is learning how to read body language so that you can determine the ideal spacing given the individual person and particular situation.