To complete my trifecta of posts on communication, this post is all about body language in terms of communication skills. Check out the other posts on speaking and on writing.
Body language is a big key to making sure your communication is received well by the listener(s). I give some hints around facial expression, body movement and body language below.
I talk a lot in my training about making sure your face looks pleasant – many people have what is commonly known as “resting b*tch face” (RBF) – if you have this, do the best you can to practice looking pleasant. Use your smartphone to record you answering an interview question or two and notice how your face looks.
The other extremes of RBF are crazy face with too big of a smile or crazy killer face with a maniacal expression. By practicing you can find the right facial expression for interviews, presentations etc. If you know you get nervous and clench your teeth, you can work on relaxing your face.
Most facial expression “issues” are due to nerves and this can be helped by lots of practice and by using the video feature of your phone to make sure you are correcting it.
Body movements means the things you do without necessarily realizing it – such as using your hands a lot or shaking your leg (if sitting). To avoid this being a stumbling block in terms of your communication skills, you need to recognize what you do with your body that might make it appear nervous and/or distracting.
If you have a “tick” something you do while nervous you might not even realize you are doing it. I know some people bite their nails or shake their foot and even I tend to play with my hair when nervous. You can only avoid doing this if you know you do it. By practicing with family and friends and even with a trusted friend of the family it can help you identify
This is more the catch all – how do you sit? Do you sit up straight and look focused? Or do you sprawl on the chair and look too relaxed? Do you have your arms crossed – what does this mean to sit with your arms crossed? It means you are defensive and maybe uncomfortable. Do you pace back and forth while giving a talk? Where do you sit and/or stand and how can you convey your body language as being an open communicator instead of someone who is inexperienced and unpracticed.
This takes also lots of practice and I would love to see videos and/or hear from you about how you identified your body language issues and corrected them. Happy Hunting!
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Lisa Vento Nielsen