Despite the general consensus that people who work behind a computer do not use their bodies enough, we might be a whole lot more physical than we actually think. Generally speaking, more than 50% of communication in conveyed through nonverbal communication. Yes, we are talking body language here. Although you might speak several languages and order you gelato in Italian and your baguettes in French, the importance of nonverbal expression should not be underestimated. Also in business. In fact, considering the large amounts of information we communicate by using our bodies, it is rather odd that we are often unaware of what message we are bringing across in the process. We pick our words wisely, shouldn’t we do that with our nonverbals too? Luckily, we are here to help and put together a quick guide to mastering your bodylanguange in business situations.
One of the first aspects that other people unconsciously notice, are postures. As such, it is important to be aware of this. In order to appear confident, you should stand or sit with a straight spine, draw the shoulders back and lift the chest slightly. Careful here: in case this is overdone, it can come across as dominant which might not always be your goal. Want to show that you are interested in what the other person is saying? Lean in slightly. This makes you more open and approachable.
Eyes, Ice, Baby
There is a reason why people say that the eyes are the window to the soul. In Western cultures, eye contact in business is an important factor in building trust as it can show that you are worthy of the other person’s trust and respect. Want to let somebody know that you are listening? Eye contact tells the speaker you are actively paying attention and focused. Avoiding eye contact is often associated with dislike, discomfort or disinterest. As such, being aware of eye contact, including the look in your eyes and how long you hold a certain gaze, is extremely important. It forms the basis of building a connection with your conversation partner.
Besides the eyes, there is so much more information to be found in the face. Although spoken language often creates barriers, the facial expressions for happiness, anger, fear, sadness, surprise and disgust are the same in most cultures around the world. Nevertheless, there are still some tricks that you can apply to come across as smarter, more approachable and positive. How? Relax your jaw, keep your chin up, smile and open your eyes while slightly raising your eyebrows. All those elements will make you more pleasant to look at and in turn positively impact the image people create of you.
Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall
Want to make the other person feel at ease? Mirror their behavior. Sit down if your conversation partner is seated or mirror small gestures and facial expressions. Although this might seem odd at first, mirroring is a great tool to build a connection in a harmonious manner as it will cause people to like you more.
Mind the Limbs
Remember you had to give that high school presentation about India and suddenly became aware of your arms as you had no clue what to do with them? Right, our arms and legs (including hands and feet) actually make up a rather large part of our bodies and consequently communicate loads of info too. Pointing your feet in the direction of someone subconsciously demonstrates engagement and interest in that person. Introverts will often point their toes inwards and extroverts outwards. Moreover, crossed arms and legs indicate disinterest or an unwillingness to communicate, whereas unfolded arms and legs has the opposite effect.
Actually this point is verbal, but still good to be aware of. Para linguistics refer to the aspects of speech that does not involve words. So, it is about how you speak. Think of tone of voice, pitch, pauses, volume and fluency. Attempting to keep a boring message interesting? Play with intonation and do not be afraid to use pauses to indicate that something big is coming. Apart from that, try to speak with a low pitched voice if your aim is to come across as authoritative. In addition, being aware of the volume of your speech can also have a significant effect. People who speak or laugh too loudly, can be considered annoying or very dominant. In contrast, people who speak very softly can be considered shy or timid. At the end of the day it is all about finding the right balance.
Got other ideas or tools that will boost your nonverbals? We would love to hear your tips!
About Amstel Lab
Amstel Lab partners with startups and scaleups to commercialize your business. On the back of our experience, we have developed the unique Amstel Lab method: a tailor-made approach to maximize success. We test your markets, refine your product, innovate your commercial approach and execute your strategies. Any good idea is worth seeing through.
Want to learn more? Contact us through [email protected]