17 January 2018
If you’re hunched in a meeting looking down at your hands, you may come across nervous or disinterested. If your shoulders are back and your head is held high, you give off a considerably different impression.
There’s a great deal that we give away without ever saying a word.
Body language a great way of finding out where you stand in a situation, if someone is hiding something or not quite giving you the whole truth. When you watch people’s behaviour in this way, you’re able to listen much more closely to what they are trying to communicate with you.
I have always taken an interest in body language, right from the days of choristry school when we kids would try to communicate between ourselves without saying a word. Back then we created our own gestures to communicate with one another even though we weren’t able to talk during lessons or in the pews. Since then I’ve read many a book on the topic too.
With my youngest daughter Summer we created a way to communicate through sign language before she began to talk. For example, she puts her thumbs together to tell us she wants more. It’s incredible.
I find it absolutely fascinating that the greatest communicators are the people who naturally take notice of their body language. They enter the room and reflect the stance, posture and positioning of the people they meet there. Often, you see people naturally leaning forward when they’re interested in someone or copying a hand gesture or seating position. It’s usually a subconscious behaviour but people immediately warm to it and it’s respectful.
With the constant buzz of notifications and information coming through on our smartphones, I do worry that the current generation is losing out on these valuable skills. One of the most disrespectful things you can do is to hold a meeting and spend it glancing at your phone. You miss the body language of the other person, so you never truly hear what they’re saying.