Have you ever wondered why you do not get the respect you feel you deserve from most of the people you deal with? Have you found that other people often ignore you? Your body language may be sending out the wrong signals. You may be speaking in ways that negate the words coming out of your mouth.
To alter your body language, you have to take the time understand what you are currently doing with your body. Talk to a few close friends about what they see you doing. If that does not work well, or feels too personal or invasive, try setting up a video camera and record yourself interacting with others. What you see may be a shock to you.
How to enhance your body language and your communication skills:
1. Make yourself larger.
- Whether you are sitting or standing, do not be afraid to take up a little space.
- Spread your arms and legs slightly.
- Insecure people tend to do the exact opposite and attempt to appear smaller.
- Show the world that you are confident enough to claim the space around you without apology.
2. Sit and stand straight.
- I am sure that your mother, like my own, constantly told you to stop slouching. She was right.
- Sit like a professional in an office setting.
- Be proper, but be relaxed.
3. Learn to establish good eye contact.
- This takes courage and work. It can be a tricky balance to maintain.
- Too much eye contact can be seen as being a bit creepy.
- Too little eye contact comes off as being submissive.
- Your goal is about 70-80% eye contact.
- When you choose to look away from the other person’s eyes, avoid appearing distracted or bored.
4. Mirror the other person’s postures.
- Within reason, mirror the other person’s stance and mannerisms.
- If you do it too precisely, they may think you’re crazy, or that you are mocking them.
- Tone it down, but adopt a similar style.
5. Keep your body open.
- Avoid crossing your arms and legs.
- Stay open to the other person and what they are communicating.
- There should be no reason to feel you need to protect yourself.
- Show that you are comfortable and relaxed.
- Turn and face people directly.
- When your feet and body are pointed in another direction, it shows disinterest and a desire to flee the situation.
6. Provide feedback while others are speaking.
- This means that should occasionally nod, say something, or provide other feedback about the current discussion.
- This lets the other person know that you are fully engaged and paying attention.
- Again, do not overdo things.
- Remember that you are supposed to be actively listening.
7. Keep your hands away from your face.
- It is very distracting when someone touches their face during a conversation.
- If you need to excuse yourself briefly to attend to something, say and do that. Otherwise do not fiddle with you face while engaged in conversation.
8. Stop fidgeting.
- When you fidget, you appear to be nervous and uncomfortable.
- Shaking your foot and tapping your fingers is also very distracting to others.
- Learn to make smooth, slow, and infrequent movements if you need to change position.
9. Stop looking at the floor, or your shoes…
- There is nothing down there germane to the conversation or interaction you are having.
- You end up looking evasive and shy when you lower your head.
- Keep your head high and others will give you more respect.
- Plus, you will feel better about yourself, too.
10. Respect personal space.
- It feels just plain odd when someone stands too close or too far away during a conversation.
- Sometimes this is a cultural issue.
- Find an appropriate distance for each situation.
- You can stand closer to some people than to others. Be respectful.
It can sometimes feel challenging to change your body language. There are things we do out of habit or convenience, but we can choose to behave differently once we understand the implications. I often cross my arms while sitting at my desk talking to people. I do it because I am usually cold, but I unfold them as soon as I realize that I am doing it.
Like anything worthwhile, it will take time and effort before some of these changes feel natural to us and begin to appear natural to others. Much of body language is largely habitual, and it will not change by itself.
Work on a single new technique each week and practice every day. In just a few weeks, you will notice that people are treating you very differently.
Until your new mannerisms become a habit, you will have to continue to be diligent in your intentions. Much of our communication is non-verbal.
Ensure that you are communicating with maximum effect.