An article written by James Borg, author of Body Language
AUTHOR: James Borg.. . When we hear that oft-used word 'communication' - apart from stifling a yawn - we tend to equate it with just words. We forget about the 'silent language' of the face, the body - and the voice (how words are actually said). What we refer to as body language.
Think of those people you like, whether it be in your private or working life; also those people in the public eye - celebrities, politicians, sportspeople and other prominent figures. Where does their likeability or 'charisma' come from? Is it just the words they say? It's probably the whole package of the way they communicate that distinguishes them from other people. Now think of people you're not particularly keen on. What is it about them that irritates you?
All of us - whether consciously or unconsciously - transmit a whole series of gestures, mannerisms and vocal cues that provide information relating to the state of our 'inner' world, at a particular moment in time. We enable others to 'read' our attitude, our mood and even status, in almost an instant. Almost in mirror fashion, this leads to - especially at the 'first impression' stage - the formation of another person's attitude towards you. Do they feel that they could get on with you? Do they like you? Could they envisage doing business with you? Are they misinterpreting some of your gestures or mannerisms (lack of eye contact for example) or vocal cues - for dishonesty?
You'll constantly hear statistics and percentages relating to the impact of body language and vocal cues in a first encounter with people. These figures will all vary - but the overriding point is the fact that well over a half of what we 'see' influences the impact of our communication with another person. The way we say the words also is a huge part of the impact; the words themselves then take on the meaning as displayed through our body language and vocal cues like tone, rhythm and speed.
Start making a conscious effort to see what you may have missed in the past - through lack of observation - the facial expressions, the crossed arms, the body position angled away from you, the tilted head, the drumming fingertips and the voice tremor. And a whole host of other 'give-aways' that revealed a negative mindset on the part of your audience (what happened to your mind-reading skills?). What about YOU. What signals have you been giving out (without awareness)?
It's accepted that we, as humans, rely on our body language sometimes to display our unspoken thoughts. We hope that other people will pick up on our signals without us having to spell things out, as this makes life easier for us. It's when we're unaware of signals that we're sending out unintentionally that the trouble starts. Remember body language is a two-way process. We should be observing others, but we should also be aware that others are observing us. Brush up on your own body language display - and also your mind-reading skills!