What percent of our communication is body language? Some say 50%; others say more. Depending on the personality of the listener, it could be everything.
For those of us in leadership positions – church ministry or otherwise – we need to take an assessment of our Cues (as Vanessa Van Edwards titles her book).
If we’re not careful, our body language may unknowingly contradict the very thing we want to communicate. These two practical tips are important whether you are listening to your boss as she gives a directive OR presenting to those who work with you.
UNCROSS YOUR ARMS
Crossed arms mean you’re shielding your heart. You’re emotionally distant. You don’t want to get close. You’re not in agreement. You’re bored. You refuse to engage. During a seated meeting, a slouch with crossed arms is a good as non-agreement, annoyance, and disdain.
It’s natural to cross our arms. One way to prevent doing so is to tlit your body ever so slightly toward the person with whom you wish to communicate. If you’re standing, putting your hands to your side or on your hips is the warmest possible body language to express interest and attention. If you’re seated, turning your body toward the person with a slight forward tilt is equally as powerful.
DON’T BREAK EYE CONTACT
Eye contact may be the single most important way to maintain connection during conversations and communication. It shows you care and are confident. It lets the other person know you’re listening. It helps you stay focused on the interaction.
Lack of eye contact or shifting eyes sends the opposite message – that you don’t care, you’re not confident, you’re not listening, or you don’t understand.
As we maintain eye contact, we discover what the other person is really saying as they are saying it. We build bridges. We let a person know they matter.
The single largest reason for the lack of eye contact in our day and age is phones and other handheld devices. We think we can engage and communicate and look at our phones as the same time – it’s just not possible.
Eye contact and open arms in communication will go a long way toward your being more received, more effective, and more engaged. Make a conscious effort to do both today.
The idea for this post came from reading a quick little book called, Life Is Like A Musical by Tim Federle.