But do we ever think about "improving" our communication in the nonverbal sense? In other words, are you even aware of the effects your body language has on people?
While focusing so much on how we come across with our words and actions, we tend to forget the importance of our nonverbal communication.
The expert in this field is Dr. Donna Van Natten, the Body Language Dr and author of the upcoming release, The Body Language of Politics: Deciding Who is Lying, Who is Sincere, and How You'll Vote.
I caught up with Van Natten and asked her which successful entrepreneurs we can all learn from when it comes to successful body language habits. Van Natten was quick to reference Sara Blakely--the self-made billionaire and founder of Spanx--whom she has studied and examined through a variety of photographs and videos.
Blakely's passion is obvious and clearly displayed through her body language. In her analysis, Van Natten discovered three creative techniques Blakely uses to capture and sustain our attention.
1. Lots of eye contact.
From photographs to interviews to Spanx promotional materials, Blakely is constantly "looking at us" from beyond the cameras. We stare back at her blue eyes as they captivate us through our screens.
No doubt, part of her successful branding is to make sure that we are watching her, and she is watching us.
"Eye contact is a critical nonverbal because it instantly builds trust and ensures honesty. Plus, her gazing at us gives the impression of confidence--and we are hooked," explains Van Natten.
Van Natten adds, "Eye contact helps us connect with another person.... When you watch her, don't you feel connected? I do."
2. Hand gestures that reinforce your words.
Van Natten explains that Blakely's use of hand gestures constantly reinforces her verbal messages. We believe what she is saying because she backs it up with complimentary gestures and other body movements.
"In several videos," says Van Natten, "I see her clasping her hands to infer warmth, extending her palms to invite us in, and making a point by the subtle lifting of her pointer finger--as if to say, 'I'm making a point...and we are No. 1.'"
3. A genuine smile.
Van Natten noted that almost every image of Blakely shows her smiling. Smiles are powerful, and Blakely's big flash of straight, white teeth is disarming to us. We practically smile back at her because that big, impressive smile--often framed by bright lipstick for emphasis--makes us feel socially connected, explains Van Natten.
"This complex nonverbal action has several meanings, but overall it is positively received--especially when coupled with crinkled corners of the eyes indicating a 'real' smile," explains Van Natten.
Van Natten also stressed that smiles are universal and clear indicators of "it's OK, I'm safe."
Blakely's display of welcoming teeth and nonthreatening facial expressions convinces Spanx consumers to like her. Since her passion and belief about her product oozes from her, Van Natten says "we 'see and feel' her excited beyond words" and "her body language is speaking to us and we enjoy reading it."
Even though most of us reading this will never personally know or meet Sara Blakely, Van Natten says "we eagerly welcome her into our homes from screens, buy her products, and let her change our bodies while, simultaneously, building our self-esteem. Who doesn't want that!"
Taking a cue from Sara Blakely, we can see that she has mastered these three easy-to-understand and simple body language displays. Now, you can, too.