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​3 Part Communication Skills Part 2 of 3

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Posted 26 September 2013 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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3 Part Communication skills: Part 2 of 3


Effective body language.

Everyone in the work place would benefit if they were to develop their communication skills.
Why? Because if you have better communication skills, then, as you work with others, you will make more progress with less friction and effort.
But if you have poor communications skills, then you will suffer from frequent misunderstandings, upsets, arguments and relationship failures.

Here is the truth: You need to get the best performance from yourself and other people

And the main tool you have at your disposal for getting the best performance from other people is your ability to communicate, meaning: your ability to use words and concepts, and your ability to effectively use your body language and voice tones

In the previous blog we discussed how you might use your spoken language to make yourself more persuasive

In this blog we will discuss the use of your body language.
Your body language is your visual impact. How you look whilst you speak.

We evolved from animals that had no verbal communication. Spoken language is a later addition to our repertoire of skills. Long before spoken language evolved, we communicated by body language. And we still do.

Your body language has a powerful and fundamental effect on the minds of others around you. We instinctively judge people on the visual cues they communicate by means of their body language and dress. And these cues are powerful because they speak to our more animal like, primitive, caveman, instincts. They are processed visually and emotionally, not auditory and intellectually.

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So body language affects the deep seated instinctive elements in your listener's soul.
She will judge your levels of authority, confidence, attractiveness, social status and power by means of how you make her feel as she observes you speaking.
Communication has three channels: Words, voice tone, and body language.
We have discussed words: what you should say.

In the next part of this series of three blogs we will discuss how to use your body language.

Let us analyse the term body language into its elements.

Your body language is composed of the following subset elements.

  • Posture
  • Dress
  • Gestures
  • Eye contact
  • Expression
  • Orientation
  • Proximity
  • Touch
  • Context

Let us look at each in turn.
If you want to suggest to the others that you are a person whose ideas and suggestions are worthy of taking seriously , then you need to come across as a credible and intelligent and high status individual.

Question: what are the "do's and don'ts" that will lead others to assume, based upon the evidence of the visual senses that you, the speaker, are to be regarded as a highly credible, highly intelligent, high status individual whose ideas are worthy of attention. And, in addition, what would visually suggest that you are not credible, or a fool, or a low status individual whose ideas are not worthy.

1. Posture

Do stand or sit up straight.
Don't slouch or lean excessively suggesting you don't have the energy to support your own weight.

2. Dress

Do dress slightly smarter than the rest of the group. If you are in uniform, make your uniform clean.
Don't dress scruffier than the rest. Slovenliness does not imbue confidence.

3. Gestures

DO: Animate yourself with a certain degree of movement of the hands and arms. Move a little.
Don't: Don't point at your listener.

4. Eye contact

Do: Give plenty of eye contact. Look at them in the eye.
Don't: but don't glare.

5. Facial expression

Do: animate your face and especially, smile as you speak. Smiling is good as it suggests good nature, happiness and self-confidence. All of these are good suggestions about you. Think of Professor Brian Cox and you will see that he speaks and smiles at the same time. And it works!

Don't: don't laugh too much. Don't make yourself into a lightweight by laughing and clowning around. Too many jokes will make you seems silly rather than witty.

6. Orientation

Do stand or sit at a slight angle relative to your listener.
Don't stand or sit square on. Square on seems on a primitive caveman level to be aggressive. So turn to be at a slight angle, one shoulder turned slightly towards the speaker, and the other away.

7. Proximity

Do stand at a distance that is consistent with good manners.
Don't get too close and invade the other person's space.

8. Touch

Be wary of touching the other person too much, (assuming you are at work).

9. Context

Make sure you are in the right time and right place for the particular conversation.
Don't have personal conversations in the crowded work canteen.
Body language is highly context specific. You act and dress radically differently on a beach, than you do in the high street. (You don't go to Tesco's in your swimming trunks).
Most people have body language habits that detract and that they don't even know they have.

Some people point at others. And they don't even that know they do it.
Some frown and have miserable faces. And don't know they do it.
Some people look grubby and disheveled and scruffy. And they don't care because they mistakenly think that it does not matter. They say, "People should not judge a book by its cover."

This is naive thinking. People will judge you on the evidence of the senses. And they will judge you (partly) on the evidence of the visual senses.
If you look like you know what you are doing, then people will think you know what you are doing and will be more likely to comply.
If you look like you don't know what you are doing, then people will assume that you don't know what you are doing, and they won't feel inclined to comply with you.

Here is the point.

  • Try to look the part.
  • Don't let your appearance detract from your verbal message.
  • Make your visual appearance support your verbal message.

So far, in this series of three blogs we have discussed the use of words and body language.
In the final blog in this series we will discuss the use of your voice tones.

Please click on any of the links below.
The use of words to influence others.

The use of body language to influence others.

The use of voice tones to influence others.

Please follow Communication skills: Effective voice tones for the third part in this series

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