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Body Language, the unspoken communication - What you are saying to your colleagues and staff, silently

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Danni Williams

on 15 June 2010

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Transcript of Body Language, the unspoken communication - What you are saying to your colleagues and staff, silently

Body Language:
The unspoken communication
Vocal Verbal Visual Other Factors

Research shows that over 90% of your communication with others is based on your vocal approach and body language.

38% of your communication impact is Vocal.

This includes our voice:
pitch - is it high, low or monotone?
intensity or tone - do we speak loudly or quietly?
rate - do you speak fast when excited, and slowly when emphasising important information?





Many studies have been done on how we communicate with others. Prominent research by Mehrabian shows that communication occurs on three levels:

Verbally
Vocally
Visually.

Any guesses as to which of these levels makes the greatest impact? What the research says... We would like to think it is the message we are giving... But it's not. When you speak to someone, your message only makes up 7% of what you are communicating... That leaves us with how we communicate with others... And a huge 55% of what you say, you don't say at all...

Huh?
Body Language: The unspoken communication.

Folded arms, leaning back - code for 'I'm feeling stand-offish and defensive)

Leaning forward, wide eyes, open mouth - waiting in anticipation as you hear an exciting story come to a gripping end...

Without knowing it, you are sending messages to your colleagues, your staff, and your friends and family, without even realising it. And they are listening and responding to these subtle cues...


Think about the message you are trying to deliver.
Is it to:
reinforce positive performance
discourage unacceptable behaviour or performance
extract information
influence or persuade others
give great customer service
inform or educate others.

It is important that you are aware of what visual and vocal cues you are sending others, if you want your message to be effectively received and acted upon.
Types of body language...

Body language includes:
facial
non-facial

Let's start with facial body language. Your facials... Our facial movements are an important part of how we communicate with others. We instinctively read the faces of others to get a sense of what messages other people are trying to communicate, i.e. are they angry, sad, happy, or confused.

Our faces often reveal how we feel, too. It is important that we are aware of this, and make sure that we do not send confusing or threatening messages to other people.


Example.
You have asked a staff member to complete a piece of work, with several friendly reminders. It is now overdue. You feel frustrated, angry and let down. You decide to speak to them about it.
You take a calm approach, speaking to them with what you consider a fair and even voice. However, your face deceives you from the start. Frowning, your lips are pursed, and your eyes are wide, and accusatory. The result? The individual senses an attack, and goes on the defence. Your message is lost.
Even Condoleeza Rice has
an 'I'm not impressed' face



1. Eye Contact

Eye contact is one of the most important aspects of dealing with other people. Maintaining good eye contact shows respect, sincerity, seriousness and interest.

Acceptable eye contact can differ between cultures. It is usually best to keep eye contact around 60-70% of the time. People are more likely to feel comfortable and perceive you to be genuine.

If you avoid eye contact, people will think you lack interest in them or the conversation, or that you are not being sincere. If you make too much direct eye contact, this may cause people to feel self conscious, or you may come across as too intense.
2. Your Mouth

Your mouth speaks more than words, giving away all sorts of clues when you communicate. From pursed lips in anger, to lips twisted to the side when thinking, we may also be showing others when we hold back any comments we don't want to reveal.
Although you may not say anything, your mouth communicates how you are feeling and what you are thinking, to others.

3. Your Ears

Ears play an important role in communicating with others, even though most of us can't move them much.

Ears are a vital tool used in active listening. You have two ears and one mouth. Try to use them in that order. If you listen twice as much as you talk, you will come across as a good communicator who knows how to strike up a balanced a conversation.

Not only will you learn a lot from listening to others, you may also help them find their own solutions with a little active listening!
4. Head Position

Your head is an important part of how you communicate with others.

When you want to come across as confident or self assured, keep your head level. You can also use this straight head position when you want to be authoritative, when want your message to be taken seriously.

Conversely, when you want to be friendly, show you are listening or be receptive, tilt your head just a little to the side.
Your body Language... 1. Posture

If you stand or sit tall, you will appear confident and enthusiastic. If you slouch when you stand or sit, you will appear bored, unhappy or lacking in enthusiasm to others.

Think about how you sit when you are presenting, interviewing or having a one-on-one conversation with someone. What message is your posture sending?

2. Body Position

The angle of your body in relation to others, gives an indication of our attitudes and feelings towards them. When we angle towards someone it shows that we like them, i.e. we find them interesting, friendly or interesting. Alternatively, we angle ourselves away from people we don't like.

You can imagine that this is especially important when you are having a difficult conversation with someone. If you lean back in your chair, away from them, you are saying that you do not like them, and that you do not want to be there. This can make the individual feel isolated, or victimised. Alternatively, if you lean in towards someone, you are telling them that you are engaged and interested in the conversation.
3. Legs

Legs are the furthest point away from the brain; therefore they are the hardest bits of our bodies to consciously control. They move around more than normal if we are nervous, stressed or we are being deceptive. So, it pays to keep them as still as possible in most situations, especially in difficult conversations, interviews or meetings.

How about crossing your legs? Do you cross at the knees, ankles or bring your leg up to rest on the knee of the other? This is more a question of comfort however; the last position mentioned is perceived as the most defensive leg cross.
4. Our Arms

Our arms speak volumes… Our arms tell others how open and receptive we are when we meet and interact with them.

In general, the more outgoing you are as a person, the more you tend to use your arms with big movements. The quieter you are, the less likely you are to move your arms away from your body. Be aware of your arm movements; try to strike a natural balance.

We often cross our arms for practical reasons, like when we are cold or in formal settings. But, crossing our arms can send quite strong non-verbal messages to others outside of these settings. When we cross our arms, other people may take this as a sign of disapproval, or disinterest in them or the conversation. It can also suggest disagreement or a feeling of defensiveness. Next time you cross their arms and lean back in your chair when you are talking to someone, think about the non-verbal messages you are sending…

5. Hand Gestures

Our hands play a key role in how we express ourselves, like when we use them to tell exciting stories.

When we are standing, if our palms are slightly up and outward is seen as open and friendly. Palm down gestures are generally seen as dominant, emphasizing and possibly aggressive, especially when there is no movement or bending between the wrist and the forearm.

This palm up, palm down is very important when it comes to handshaking and where appropriate we suggest you always offer a handshake upright and vertical, which should convey equality.
What about your body language? So, what messages have you quietly been sending to others? If our message only makes up 7% of what we are communicating...
What else could we be communicating? Example one
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