Have you looked at a person and guessed their state of mind? Like thinking – he seems depressed or she seems to have received great news. It happens often, doesn’t it?
In fact, as soon as we observe someone closely, our mind immediately does a couple of things. One, our mind does a quick assessment of the person and the second we show an affective response, that is, we quickly develop a positive or negative feeling about the person.
It is not a mystery that words are not needed for us to form an opinion of another person. We can tell a lot about others from their facial expressions, appearance, their gestures, postures and movements. Our body speaks. And the world is listening to us even when we have not spoken a single word.
This is what we call body language. Here’s an interesting fact – More than 70% of our 1st impression about someone is through body language, than through words. Amazing isn’t it? People form impressions from what they ‘see’ than what they ‘hear’. So it’s essential that we start polishing this aspect and make a good impression on others.
Smile – A smile relaxes our facial muscles and softens our expressions. Smile to feel better and bring pleasantness into all interactions. It’s a quick and most simple way to connect with another.
Facial expression – Next take care of your facial expression. ‘Our feelings pour out of our face and eyes’ – said a poet once. Eyes are also called as the mirror to our soul. People can read a lot about you when they look at you and gaze into your eyes.
Let’s say you went to an important meeting or an interview in an angry state. When you are angry your face gets tense and hard and your eyes get darker. In such a situation when you are having a conversation with someone, even if you are trying your best to speak in a pleasant manner, it will be obvious to the listener that you are agitated and angry. The conversation will not go well, leading to your losing an opportunity of a lifetime. What must you do?
First of all be in touch with your feelings so that you know that you are in a negative state of mind. Be aware. This is a major step in all situations and times in life and helps to make a change.
Secondly you must engage in some action to diffuse this state of anger or tension. You could talk with a friend, do some physical activity like exercise or do prayanama, or if you have the time – write about what you are feeling, pour out all your emotions. These are all good ways to relieves stress.
Awareness followed by action will nullify the negative state and you will be able to perform well at the interview or whatever else you are doing.
Posture – Let’s next consider your posture. When you hold yourself straight and keep your arms to your sides you automatically feel confident. Doing the opposite, that is when you droop your shoulder you display fear or anxiety. Maintain a posture to exude confidence. Think of how a soldier stands J.
Gestures – They are an important part of body language. When we are relaxed our gestures compliment our words. When we get agitated or nervous our gestures increase and become distracting. And when we are afraid we may become frozen.
Avoid standing with your arms crossed across your chest. This is a closed arm position and conveys that you are not ready for an open conversation. It tends to create a negative impression about you. Also, such a posture stops you from being able to make gestures. After all gestures help us convey our message. We use them to stress a point or express ourselves.
Another wrong posture is when you sit back or lay back almost slouched in a chair. In a discussion when you lean forward and maintain eye contact you convey your interest in the conversation and make a connection with the person sitting across. Lying back indicates you are withdrawing and breaking the connection. Be mindful of this.
Another aspect of body language has to do with the distance that you maintain with others which is the socially permitted distance. It’s an invisible space yet it has to be respected. About 3 to 4 feet is a good distance to maintain when you are standing and talking with someone.
And finally Voice.
Voice conveys our personality – are we confident, uncertain, fearful, happy – all this comes across through the voice. An important element of voice is its tone. Your attitude about a person or a situation gets conveyed through your tone therefore learn to use your voice to good effect. It impacts the listener more than your words do sometimes.
Be conscious of the 6 aspects of body language to connect with others. Use a smile, an erect posture and eye contact to convey to the world that you are a smart and confident person. Use your body to speak the best about you.