It's no secret that the way we communicate nonverbally--mostly in the form of body language--has a huge impact on how effectively our messages are communicated to, and received by, others. In fact, researchers say that some 60 to 90 percent of all of our communication with others is in the form of nonverbal communication.
In his book Seven Disciplines of a Leader, author Jeff Wolf provides some great tips on how anyone can learn how to send the right message with body language. And the importance of nonverbal communication cannot be underemphasized for anyone in business. Says Wolf, "Workplace communication, whether verbal or nonverbal, drives all activity between you and your vendors, customers, and co-workers."
Give these seven body language tips a try and watch your communication improve--quickly and easily.
1. Watch yourself and others
When you're communicating with others, pay close attention to the messages you are sending through the use of your body. Do your spoken words match your nonverbal cues? If not, then fix them. People intuitively know that, in most cases, the nonverbal messages you send are more accurate than your spoken messages.
2. Maintain eye contact
Make a point of increasing the amount of eye contact when speaking with others--especially co-workers, your boss, or anyone working for you. Eye contact builds trust. On the other side of the coin, if you avoid eye contact, you're sending a strong message that you're uncomfortable, and perhaps even dishonest.
3. Work on your posture
Your posture is directly related to the confidence you project to the world. If you slump, you're telling the world that you lack confidence, and that you're uninterested in the other person. When you stand or sit up straight, you project a strong message of confidence and interest in the other person.
4. Straighten your desk--and yourself
A sloppy desk--or demeanor--reflects a sloppy attitude and a sloppy mind, and it sends the world the message that you are not only disorganized, but also that you are careless. These are not good messages to be sending if you want to keep your job or move up in your organization.
5. Read your audience
When you're making a presentation to a team or group of people, be on the lookout for nonverbal messages that your audience is sending to you. If members of your audience start slouching, yawning, checking their smartphones, or even dozing off, then you know that you need to do something immediately to energize your message and regain their attention.
6. Listen to your voice
Although we don't usually notice it, when we speak, we send all sorts of powerful messages in the way we actually use our voice. We send these messages (known as paralanguage) through the pitch, rhythm, tone, inflection, volume, and other fluctuations in our voice. A sarcastic tone, for example, sends a much different message than one that is sincere and heartfelt.
7. Question yourself
Monitor your progress in improving your nonverbal communication during the course of your workday. Wolf suggests asking these questions: "How was I perceived at the meeting? Could I have done something differently? Were people really interested and paying attention to what I was saying? Did I listen well to others?"