We all know that communication is a critical skill. Whether it’s a hot date, a job interview, a boardroom meeting or some kind of sales pitch, let's face it, people don’t just only pay attention to what you’re actually saying.
Our nonverbal cues such as our smile, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures and posture is said to hover at just about 55% of our communication.
A host of nonverbal cues, body movements, facial expressions, tones of our voice and gestures in how we choose to communicate indicates that body language can be quite complex.
Decoding these signs is an important part of how one human communicates with another and with the primary importance being that it assists us in better understanding exactly what the person is trying to convey.
Body language also helps us to better interpret other peoples’ moods and emotions.
To be fluent in body language enhances your conscious understanding of people’s reactions to what is said and how it is said.
According to a 1981 study by body language expert Albert Mehrabian - words, body language and tone of voice account for 7%, 55% and 38% of effective communication. Think about that for a moment, as we communicate with each other, every day, we tend to put more than 90% of our attention toward the other person's body language and tone of the voice instead of what they are actually saying with words. This study shows you how nonverbal communication is deeply rooted in the brain and tells you about the importance of body language in communication.
With only 7% of our attention on verbal communication, it’s vitally important to use gestures, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues carefully to communicate what you are trying to convey to others.
Let's look at the importance of body language in communication
Imagine a band of chimpanzees in a forest and although they can not speak, they use nonverbal cues and body language as major ways of communicating.
Similarly, human beings also use body language along with word-choice. In the business world, your body language illustrates your confidence and commitment in more ways than you realize.
The importance of body language lies in the manner in which it impacts your personal brand. Positive body language suggests that one is approachable, attentive and open to new ideas and suggestions. On a vacation trip to Florida recently, I could not help but notice how many of the bartenders and servers in the restaurants that I visited spent a great deal of time on their personal cell phones in a corner or wait-station, while I struggled to get their attention, which indicated to me (as the customer) that they were not approachable, attentive, or focused.
The use of body language in communication is often unconscious. Chances are that a person will be perceived by many as disinterested and, quite possibly, stressed they are seen yawning in the meeting room or tapping their fingers on the table while the boss is talking about the monthly sales goals.
Improving your posture, and body language, will give the impression to others that you are interested and focused.
The Power Pose
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s research suggests that by adopting body language postures associated with power (as shown in all of the "hands up" images displayed in this blog-post), we can actually trick ourselves into feeling more powerful.
When we feel that confidence and poise, we’re more likely to signal it with our body language – and those non-verbal cues can have a pretty significant impact on major events in our lives.
In her exceptional TEDtalk, Cuddy explains: “We make sweeping judgments and inferences from body language, and those judgments can predict really meaningful life outcomes, like who we hire or promote, or who we ask out on a date.”
In her work, Cuddy focuses specifically on nonverbal expressions of power. When we feel powerful, we tend to spread out, take up space, and project confidence - we raise our arms and show the world we're in charge, we're invincible. We have control of our power.
By contrast, “when we feel powerless, we close up, wrap ourselves up. We make ourselves small.”
Her research indicates that holding a “power pose” for two minutes can cause our testosterone levels to increase, and our cortisol (stress-response hormone) to decrease.
Personally, I do this. If I have something big happening in my day, I find a quiet spot first thing in the morning and raise my arms and talk to myself like I am a champion fighter about to win the next boxing match in the ring.
Public Speaking -- The importance of body language in communication is evident in public speaking. With all eyes on one person, the speaker is under pressure to be mindful of what they are saying and how they are saying it.
Handshakes -- Although it's been impacted by Covid-19, another important nonverbal business action is the handshake. Political and business leaders seal deals with a handshake. While a strong handshake suggests confidence, a limp handshake implies the person is disinterested.
Be sure to work at perfecting your handshake.
The importance of body language is not only limited to formal communication. Changing any negative nonverbal cues will increase your self-confidence and self-esteem. Once you see people responding positively to you as a friend, employee, co-worker or leader, your internal motivation will increase as well.
In the end, be mindful and heighten your awareness but don’t stress about body language in communication. If you have a habit of cracking your knuckles or rubbing the eyes, being aware and consciously replacing it with positive body movement will simply do the trick over time.❤️