We are constantly sending messages about what we truly feel with our thoughts and feelings, even when we are not using words.
Did you know that 7% of communication stems from words, and the remaining 93% is non-verbal communication? Fifty-five percent of communication is based on what people see, and 38% is transmitted through the tone of our voice. If your body language does not match your words, people can see what you're really saying through the rest of your communication, especially in business.
Next is eye contact, the most obvious way for communication. If you do not make eye contact with the other person, you are giving the impression that the other person is of no importance. Looking at them gives them the impression they are heard, you are interested, and they are important. Keep eye contact about 60% of the time to look interested, however do not stare and look aggressive at the other person.
Another way of communication is through facial expression. When we smile, it sends positive messages, adds warmth, and shows confidence. People are more open and trusting when we smile. So, be aware of how your facial expression is.
Watch for all those mouth movements we make without even knowing, for example, when we bite the inside of our mouth or purse the lips. This can indicate that you are thinking about what you are listening to and are holding something back.
If you want to be seen as someone friendly and open, tilting your head to one side from time to time helps. Keeping your head straight will make you appear self-assured and others will take you seriously.
If you are the type of person that folds their arms over the chest, you are saying that you have no interest in the other person or in what they are saying. It can also say “I do not agree with you.” Try to be aware of where your arms are so you don’t give the wrong impression.
Waving arms around too much can be a gesture of uncertainty and immaturity. It can also show enthusiasm to some. The best bet is to place your arms by your side or in your lap. This will make you look confident and relaxed. Some people find this difficult, so start by practicing. In time it will feel natural and be a habit.
If you lean away from others while speaking to them, you give the impression that you have heard enough. Leaning in tells the other person “tell me more.” Adding a silent nod with your head is also a way to affirm you are listening.
Posture is so important. If you want to be seen as enthusiastic and alert, sit or stand erect. When we slump in our chairs or lean on walls, it makes us look tired. It looks unprofessional and nobody wants to do business with anyone who has no energy.
In the business world, it’s important not to fidget. Pay attention to your hands. Keep them in a place where you will not move them around. Don’t play with your hair, or rub your face!
When we move our legs, this indicates nervousness. Someone who is professional keeps their feet flat on the floor or legs crossed at the ankles. Women, cross one knee over the other. The position that is offensive in the professional world is when one leg or ankle is on top of the other knee. It can make you look arrogant.
If you want to establish good rapport, distance is important. Standing too close will make the other person feel like you are too pushy. Standing too far away will make you seem standoffish. Find a happy medium. Do what makes the other person feel comfortable. If you find the person you are speaking to is moving further away, then know they need a little more space.
Make sure you are sending the correct message with your body. While it seems small on the surface, others will certainly be noticing your body language.