By Will Edwards
It is probably over twenty years ago that I first read Desmond Morris’s classic book on the subject of body language, ‘The Naked Ape’. I remember seeing him interviewed around that time on the Parkinson Show here in the UK and I was so impressed that I went out and got the book. Since then, I have incorporated a section in my communications skills workshops to deal with this fascinating topic.
Understanding and making use of body language is a fundamental principle you should learn to apply if you are to increase your ability to communicate effectively. So here are 7 ways to improve your non-verbal communication.
1. Smile at Everyone
Smile at everyone you meet, especially at a first meeting. It is an amazingly effective success strategy that is incredibly simple to use and yet, very few people actually manage to smile when they need to. In interviews, presentations and important meetings, we may not feel like smiling. That’s quite natural because in such situations we may feel a little nervous and the last thing we are inclined to do is smile. However, if you can just get into this simple little habit, your results will definitely be positively impacted – guaranteed.
2. Nodding Your head
This signal is full of positive associations. It conveys the sense of, ‘I like you, I agree with you, I’m listening’ and so on. It’s a tiny motion of the head – you are not going to do a nodding dog impression. Just do it occasionally, whilst the other person is speaking and you will find that you will begin to develop rapport with people much more easily.
3. Give Appropriate Eye Contact
Giving the right amount of eye contact is a critical factor in developing rapport. You don’t want to give too much or too little. Too much eye contact is signalling the wrong thing (aggression or sexual interest). Too little eye contact can suggest that you are not interested. It’s a complex issue, but for most people, looking them in the eye about a third of the time works well and is about right.
4. Respect Personal Space
Don’t stand too close to people. Imagine that they have a bubble of space around them, about 18 inches in diameter and that’s their personal space. We don’t generally like people standing within that bubble unless we are going to be intimate so be very careful not to violate personal space.
5. Don’t Touch your Face
Involuntary touching of the face, especially the nose is something to watch out for in conversation. It is a signal that the other person is not being entirely honest at that precise moment. Obviously, you need to take other things into consideration, but as counter-intuitive as this might sound, this signal can be remarkably accurate. So, make sure you don’t fidget and especially, don’t touch your ear, collar and especially your nose during conversation.
6. Avoid Closed Postures
Don’t sit or stand with your arms folded (a closed posture) during important conversations. Again, it can convey an impression of disinterest whether or not you are actually interested in what is being said.
The final tip is an advanced one, but if you can learn to mirror the body language of the other person, you will be amazed at how useful the technique can be in developing rapport. To mirror simply means to sit or stand in the same posture as the other person, to make use of the same types of gestures and to give the same amount of eye contact.
So there you go, seven quick tips of how to improve your non-verbal communication.
Get more information and a copy of our free book Body Language Magic here… Body Language