Understanding the power of body language at work, rest, and play

Understanding the power of body language at work, rest, and play

Effective communication comes down to more than just the words we use. It's about maintaining eye contact with who you're talking to, your posture – either in person or via Zoom, and what your hands are doing and how they’re moving while you speak. Communication takes place through two means: the verbal and nonverbal. The result is that there are two distinct conversations going on simultaneously. While verbal communication is obviously important, the words you’re using aren’t the only things that are conveying messages or meaning. Without being able to successfully read body language, we run the risk of missing key conversational elements that can have a positive or negative impact on how we interact with people at home, work and in our social lives.

Body language is that unspoken element of communication which (often subconsciously) reveals the truth about our feelings and emotions. Our brains process the continual flow of nonverbal cues we use as the basis for building trust and intimacy. Face-to-face interaction is rich with information. How we interpret what people say to us is only partially taken from their words. Most of the messaging (and all of its emotional nuance) is obtained through vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues. We rely on the other person’s immediate feedback so we might better gauge how well our contributions are being received.

Your ability to understand and interpret body language can help you to pick up on unspoken issues or negative feelings in others. When you can read signs like tilted heads, posture, open stances, hand gestures and the like, you can better understand the entire message behind what you’re being told. You'll be more aware of how people react to what you say and do. And you'll be able to adjust your body language to appear more positive, engaging, and approachable. You can also use body language in a positive way to reinforce the strength of your verbal messaging.

A speech, no matter how engaging or interesting the speaker is, won’t have a receptive audience if the speaker’s giving off negative body language signals. Likewise, if you’re having a conversation with someone and your body language is disengaged, then it might appear as though you’re disinterested in what they have to say – even though you’re listening.

Just because you’re not performing on a stage, it doesn’t mean the same body language principles won’t apply to you in the workplace. If you’re relaxed and engaged, you’ll find it easier to have conversations with colleagues and team members. It might even be worth asking for feedback from those to whom you’ve spoken. Mastering body language isn’t something that can be done overnight; it’s something that takes time. To be naturally open, confident and engaged needs work, but do the work, and you’ll soon not only be performing better on stage, you’ll be interacting with people better off stage, too.

Body language awareness is increasingly part of the skill sets employed by CEOs and other business leaders. By sitting, standing, walking, and gesturing in ways which exude confidence, competence, and status, the impact has tremendous results on their skills, abilities and success as a leader. Good body language skills can help you motivate direct staff, connect with audiences, better present ideas, and project your personal brand of charisma.

That’s a powerful set of skills for anyone to develop, which all can be done at one of Darlo Drama’s courses.