Confident Life Skills: Body language:
Over the ensuing months we are going to cover in detail all the nuances of what I call “Confident Life Skills” or being able to communicate in a much more positive and effective manner with the people in your life, whether it be work colleagues, including management, your friends, or just everyday people that you encounter.
People give off signals all the time, and knowing how to recognize those signals is a very important part of the process we are going to cover.
All my life I’ve always worked in some form of managerial role or other which has meant a great deal of interaction with other people at various levels and being able to communicate effectively with them all, but it has never ceased to amaze me how many people actually sell themselves short without actually realizing that they are doing it by being unable to get their viewpoint across successfully and effectively.
A lot of people think that by being “aggressive” or “forceful” that they will impart their personality or viewpoint on another individual but are then surprised to find that it has the opposite effect!
And don’t forget being “aggressive” doesn’t necessarily mean being physically violent. So much can be learned by taking a step back and having a look at how your actions impact on another person or other people and once you can “sense and feel” what you are doing it will make a huge difference in how you project yourself.
Part of being able to get on in life and to be able to cope with things in an effective manner is in your perception of other people and in the way that other people perceive you.
You’ve all heard how most people tend to make a judgement of someone within the first 10 seconds and that first impression is the first and most important impression you can make.
So, ask yourself, if that’s the case and people are making such “instant” judgements what are other people thinking of me, and just as importantly what kind of impression am I making on the people that matter?
What can I do about it and is there in fact, anything I can do about it?
Well the good news is YES, there is an awful lot you can do about but it is something that you will have to work on and depending on how badly you want to progress at work or in your life it’s the effort you put in that counts.
So why do people make such instant decisions and how are they able to do this?
Well did you know that 55% of any communication is “physical” and includes facial expressions, gestures and body language and all these signals are being given out “unconsciously” so we are not even aware most of the time that we are even sending them out as they have become part of our everyday make up and habit.
38% of any communication is “the tone of voice” which means that people are listening to the tonality of what you are saying as opposed to “hearing your words”! So it’s very important to be confident in how you project your voice as well as your physical body as it all part of the same package. Strong positive body language coupled with a great speaking voice will always convey an air of confidence and authority.
7% of a communication is based only on the words that you use!
Now this is an incredible important bit of news because it means that just because you think the words you are using are important, they actually aren’t, and are having very little impact on what you are saying and the information or message you’re trying to get across.
It’s the way you say it and the way that you project it that’s important!
But the good news is that all habits are learned and all these little “signals” that we give out have been learned over a period of time and logic therefore tells you that “new habits” can be learned just as effectively and be put to better use and thereby cancelling out any of the old habits that you would like to change or improve.
So on the physical side what are we talking about here?
Slouched shoulders, nervous gestures, the wrong clothes, the incorrect accessories, facial expressions, nervous twitching, wrangling of hands, getting too close to people and invading their “personal space” too quickly without being invited in. (We will cover this subject in more depth at a later date).
Always check to see how others are responding to you and correct yourself correspondingly.
Always stand tall, shoulders back, chest high, tummy tucked in. Try to imagine an invisible golden thread that travels from the base of your spine up your backbone and out the top of your head. Not only does this improve your appearance immediately but it will also help you to breathe more easily and therefore look more relaxed, it also gives you an immediate look of authority, try it and see. If having an interview always try to breathe evenly and slowly.
When seated try not to slouch. Again this not only improves your posture and your circulation it will also help you to feel more alert and will help you to feel more in charge.
Try not to fidget!
Smile openly when appropriate and always try to listen before you impart any viewpoint of your own. Not only will this make you look and sound more considerate it’s also polite and people appreciate politeness and someone listening to their viewpoint.
Try to evaluate what is being said before “jumping” in with your opinion and always let someone finish what they are saying first.
And if in doubt to the meaning of anything, ask!
Be aware of the “tone” of your voice. Speak clearly and legibly and don’t try and speak too quickly (a common mistake when feeling slightly nervous).
Be animated in your speech and try to add an “inflection” to punctuate important points in what you are saying, injecting humour in conversation is always a good idea as long as it’s appropriate.
Listen to the words of the other person and always try to pronunciate clearly when you are speaking without sounding robotic, as again too many people mutter or speak too quickly or in too high a tone when feeling nervous or awkward.
Be in control and aware of your own body language and speech patterns and keep them under control “naturally and easily” and you’ll be amazed at the effect it will have.
These intrinsic skills can make such a difference to your professional and personal life you’ll wonder why they’re not taught in school.
All these exercise and much more can be experienced firsthand by booking Garth Delikan, The Lifestyle Guy where all these principles and techniques will be taught to you and your department in a fun role play situation where you will gain a greater understanding of everything covered in this article.