I have spent the last several months in a study of body language. No, I did not read any new books on the subject or do an online research project. Instead, I have intentionally “listened” with my eyes.
While at the gym, I watched sports, news and old sit coms to determine how much of what was being said I could understand without earphones and gain understanding by visual observation alone. More recently, I had the opportunity to travel abroad. I watched golf in German. Viewed a documentary on the effects of music and dance on memory in Italian. Plus a few classic favorite movies I had the chance to re view in French. (Keep in mind, I don’t know German, Italian or French)What a fun exercise!
My purpose was to become more aware of body language and determine how much of what is being “said” beyond the spoken word I am “hearing.” An additional outcome I anticipated was an increased awareness of my own body language. Where my “unspoken message” might be perceived as negative or unreceptive? How could I make even slight changes to improve receptiveness? What might improvements be made to make others feel more welcome, accepted or heard?
My project reinforced the power of a smile, direct eye contact and open hand gestures.
Each of us speak VOLUMES daily without saying a word by our facial expressions, our stance, movement of hands and arms. In many cases, we are unaware of what our body language “sounds like.” For example, I was working with a 6 foot 6 former military guy. His military at ease stance did nothing to put the customers he was speaking to “at ease” on the contrary it was quite intimidating. He was not even aware of his stance until I mentioned it and the effect it was having on his customers.
Ask someone to see to observe and help you keep your unspoken dialogue in check. It can make a big difference in how you are received.