Some studies suggest that over 90% of communication is body language.
Others say it’s about 80%.
Others say it’s maybe a little over 50%.
It’s all confusing.
But it still seems that much of the way we communicate is done with non-verbal language. And that’s important. Even if body language is a somewhat small percentage of the way we communicate it’s important.
And for those in business, managers, entrepreneurs, leaders, it’s important to understand what body language is telling team members, clients and partners.
Let’s look at some ways to improve body language.
1. Learn To Recognize The Body Language Of Others
There’s a saying that goes something like:
She was really good at reading the room.
It seems that successful leaders are really good at observing others. They have emotional intelligence. It’s easy to spend life thinking about yourself. But the more you think about others the more you’re able to understand them and how they think and live.
Recognizing the body language of others can help you understand situations better. You’re probably reacting, with your own body language, based on their body language without even knowing it.
A good first step is to pay more attention to what others are telling you with their body language so you can learn the best ways to respond to make the conversation meaningful.
2. Remove Distractions
The big one today is the phone. When you’re talking to someone or a group of people you want to remove all distractions. That means leaving your phone in the car or even at home. Maybe you can get away with putting it in your pocket, but that pull always seems to be there.
The phone is a big one, but there are others. We let our eyes wander. We let our minds wander. That’s going to happen, but the key is bringing yourself back to the conversation and giving attention to the person that is speaking.
Pay attention next time when you’re telling somebody something. Does it bother you when they drop their eyes and look at their phone? What does it communicate?
3. Don’t Touch Yourself
You’d be surprised…
Many of us seem to have these weird habits of touching ourselves when we’re having conversations. It’s weird. I notice it myself and it kind of irritates me when I catch my self doing it.
A big one seems to be touching our face. We scratch our ear or rub our eye. We brush our fingers through our hair.
Some even get weirder. We rub our hand on the side of our thigh. Maybe we “readjust” our groin area or belt area. Maybe we hitch up our pants to get a little more comfortable.
It’s weird and it distracts others from what they’re telling us and it gives off the wrong impression.
4. Face Them
You’d be surprised on this one. I caught myself doing this during the last holiday season. My father-in-law and I were just watching a little TV before breakfast in the morning with some coffee. He wanted to talk about a few things and I caught myself not turning to face him on the couch.
I could feel the awkwardness and I see now that if I would have turned to face him that the conversation would have gone much better. Instead, I was turned kind of halfway away from him and it was just awkward the entire time. It was the wrong body language.
5. Add Excitement
This is a big one and it’s been something I’ve had to work on.
Have you ever seen yourself on video having a conversation?
Well, when I saw myself a few times I could see how…boring I was. It sounded like I wasn’t really listening or engaged and my body language reflected that sentiment as well. It wasn’t good.
And the frustrating part was that I really would think that I was interested, but my face and body wasn’t showing that. My voice wasn’t showing it either.
So when you’re listening to someone make them feel interesting. Show it with your facial expressions. Show it with your hand movements and with your eyes. Then do it with your words and the inflection of your voice.
6. Love Yourself
The more confident you are in yourself and the more you love yourself the more attractive you are to others. The more they want to be around you.
People like being around people that are happy and content. Think about the people you like being around. You probably want to be around others that are positive because you want to feel positive.
When you love yourself and your situation you’re not complaining. Your body language is happy, upbeat and people can pick up on things and they’ll want to be around you.
7. Slow Down
Some might say that I need to speed it up a bit…
But I think for the most part when we get excited we talk fast and our body jerks around and it’s exhausting and difficult to keep up.
You can tell when someone is jittering and nervous and all that. It’s good to slow things down both when you’re talking, asking questions and it will reflect in the way you move.
Slower movements make people at ease.
8. Dress Well
It’s a simple one, but the way you dress is a form of body language. It shows how much you care about yourself. It shows how much you care about others because when you’re with someone in public they associate with you as well as with themselves.
If they are dressed up to a certain level and you’re not on the same level you’re going to make them potentially feel uncomfortable. You may draw attention to the both of you and that can make the other person feel uncomfortable.
It’s the way the world is, but we pay attention to the way others are dressed. We make assumptions and we have prejudice. If you want to be better with your body language you need to care about your appearance.
9. Look At Them
This one kind of blends a few of the ones that we’ve already talked about. We go back to distractions and facing the person that you’re having a conversation with.
Look at them. Give them eye contact.
It’s a simple way to show that you care about what the other person is telling you. Don’t look down at your lap. Don’t look at your hands and your sleeve.
Look at the person right in the face. Don’t stare. You can let your eyes wander a bit. Maybe they say something funny and your roll your eyes back for a laugh. Maybe they mention something interesting and your eyes drift away as you contemplate things.
But for the most part you want to look them right in the eye.
10. Close Your Mouth
Stop interrupting. Nobody wants to hear your unsolicited advice.
It’s something I’m noticing more and more. I notice it with myself sometimes and it bothers me when I catch myself doing it. I know how much it bothers me when someone just starts spitting advice after I tell them one thing.
For the most part, no one is asking your advice. They’re mostly just looking for someone to listen to them. That’s it. You don’t need to have an answer. You need to just listen, ask questions and help the person figure things out on their own if they even are looking to figure things out.
Keep your mouth closed and your body language will be improved.
Body language is important. We’re not entirely sure exactly how much body language matters in our culture, but it seems that most agree that body language has a significant role in communication.
So as a leader or entrepreneur or manager it’s important to understand what your body is telling others. If you want a better relationship with your team, customers and partners it’s important to understand and improve your body language.
Hopefully the tips above can help you improve if you’re looking to do so.