Have you ever noticed your boss looking cool and calm in a conversation with you, until he gets an update on a sudden client visit to take place in a couple of hours? What is the first thing you notice? He unbends himself, stiffens his posture. That is the first instinctive gesture one displays to show alertness. What is the next thing you notice, the facial expressions expand, the pupils of the eyes expand and there could be an eyebrow raise to showcase surprise, followed by alertness. And what about the voice? That opens a whole new can of worms. His voice changes from a conversational style to a conventional style. It becomes deep, firm and monotonic. This sudden change of non verbal communication gives you a lot of real time feedback. It subtly indicates what appropriate next step you need to take. But how pro are ‘you’ at practicing and recognizing the para linguistic form of communication? Non verbal is the single most experiential form of communication and by far the most effective and accurate form of communication across different cultures and mind sets.
As you can successfully interpret your boss’s change of expression, it is but obvious that your signals and unsaid gestures too are interpreted by everyone you possibly meet. Things would have been a lot simple had people not judged our unsaid language but sadly a lot of presumptions are made about us basis our body’s behavior. You will be surprised to know that people who use this mysterious language of body turn out to be the favorite amongst the lot. Surely they have learned that mastering body language is the new survival of the fittest. They get promoted, they grow fast in their careers, they look attractive, appealing and amiable. In no time, these people become personal favorites of so many and the world around them changes for good.
So here are some super interesting facts that I have identified, researched and practiced since the last few years about body language:
- Body language is not challenging because it is difficult to master, it is challenging because we have absolutely no idea where we are going wrong. It is difficult to assess and analyze until someone records our video and shows it to us. Power tip: Randomly video record your conversation with someone or you addressing a group of people in a meeting. You will be shocked to see what you do.
- Body movements change rapidly as we communicate with different levels of people. Research indicates that we tend to wrap our movements in front of those who we consider superior in authority, financially, academically or socially. On the contrary, our body movement expands and we end up taking more physical space in front of our subordinates or those economically and socially below us. It is therefore imperative for us to observe these self cues. They give us alert signals and save us from being labeled fake. This is another reason why people run away from the subject of body language, because once we are aware of it, we look too conscious, made up or at times fake in our attempts to master it. Power Tip: Never seek perfection in body language. You will look the best when you embrace your imperfections and project yourself with confidence.
3. The next big characteristic of body language is that it is highly ‘Contextual’. And this is where we all fall flat. Since years we are taught that crossed arms definitely indicate a closed behavior. This is not true for multiple reasons. You have to understand the context of the situation in which someone folds their arms. For all you may know the person is cold or he/she is deeply comfortable in this pose. It is wrong to instantly judge people basis their body language because in high probability, they have no idea what they are gesturing. So they deserve a benefit of doubt. However, it is important to note that confident, charismatic and dynamic people seldom cross their arms and/or legs. Power Tip: The more open your gestures, the more capable, confident and active you look.
4. This point is somewhat related to the previous one. Body language is ‘Clustered’. One can rightly interpret body language only after clustering multiple patterns formed by someone. For example, if I have crossed arms, crossed legs, strong eye gaze, face towards the opposite direction and stern facial expressions; then once must successfully interpret that I am upset, reserved and unhappy. But it is inappropriate to draw this conclusion with just crossed arms. That could mean anything.
5. Body Language can be mastered only and only through dedicated practice. The best practice starts by observing others. Once you start noticing other people’s body language, you officially enter into the world of non verbal. Learning by observing also known as ‘Behavior Modelling’ is the fastest scientific and fool proof method of learning the art of non verbal communication.
In the last 5 years, I have been able to help 80% of my clients to perform better, get a better job profile or a salary hike simply by enhancing their body language and vocal power.
My next blog will include an interesting video tutorial created by me!