Body language is incredibly important and it is important we understand how important it is in relation to all aspects of our life and work. Here we look at the 8 different elements of body language.
Our body language and non-verbal communication forms part of no less than 8 different elements. And all of these elements form part of our communication with those around us. Effective communication is extremely important within any business field whether that’s sales, marketing, IT project management or just about any career you can think of. If you master excellent body language and master reading body language, you will find you are able to read situations well, manage difficult situations effectively and present yourself in a confident and approachable manner.
Body language is powerful, and it should be considered a tool. By understanding the 8 key elements of body language you can give yourself an incredible base of knowledge that will enable you to communicate effectively in any situation.
The 8 key elements of body language are:
The most obvious body language area, the face, is where we tend to instinctively and consciously look first for nonverbal cues. Eye contact (or lack of), grimacing, smiling and frowning, these are all expressions we recognise. And just as it is important to recognise how we speak and the words we say, it is important to recognise what our face is doing when we aren’t talking. For example; if you want an employee to feel understood and listened to while you try to resolve a dispute, you must maintain eye contact and actively look like you are listening, simply listening is not enough.
This really is the first place anybody notices how you express yourself. Simply looking down when someone is speaking to you shows a lack of confidence, and staring continually can come across as confrontational and sometimes aggressive. So if continually look down you can sub-consciously play down your skills or your ability to deliver on a job because you look under confident.
The Way You Hold Yourself
This is all about your posture and how you hold yourself. Your body works as one big cue as to how you feel about yourself or the situation you are in. It can be as simple as scrunching your fists which shows tension and aggression, or pointing your feet inwards. If you address people with your shoulders slumped and your arms folded you will appear closed and unengaged which will not motivate your staff nor instil confidence in your employees or potential clients.
Gestures are things like waving or nodding, and also include gesticulation. Gestures can be used to emphasise a point in combination with the words you say, or they can be used alone and understood i.e. if you nod at someone it means you understand something. Gestures tend to be more of a conscious way of using body language but, acknowledging how they contribute to your overall non-verbal and verbal language is important.
The Way You Speak
Voice is verbal, but the way you speak forms part of your non-verbal communication. Your inflection, how loud you’re speaking, the way your voice sounds, all form part of your overall nonverbal communication.
The Way You Move
This could be the tiniest movement or the biggest movement, but every movement counts. So if a customer, employee or business partner is discussing something important with you and you are slowly moving away, that can make them feel like they are not being listened to, like you are avoiding their communication with you.
The Way You Present Yourself
In corporate and business environments your appearance is extremely important. People do read a lot about someone from the way they look, this isn’t always right, but it’s simply what happens regardless of whether or not we are aware of it. So if you turn up to give a presentation to an important client in creased clothes, with dishevelled hair and stubble (if you don’t normally have stubble) you may subconsciously be telling them that you aren’t professional and you aren’t up to the task. Again, it’s not necessarily fair, but it’s just the way we are as a society.
There are tons of variations within each aspect of body language, and understanding both conscious and unconscious body language is incredibly important in business. It can make the difference between winning that important client or gaining the respect you deserve.