We all speak a second language and we speak it fluently, though we don’t often acknowledge it.
I was seated on a packed tube train, wondering how I’d get out past the woman squashed directly in front of me standing in the aisle. As I gathered my things she made the subtlest move, she shifted her hand holding her bag just an inch toward the exit. She did nothing else, but I knew immediately that she was going to get off. True to her body language, she moved off ahead of me.
How did I know she was leaving from such a small movement?
That language is your non-verbal cues or body language. It’s vital that you tune into it because it can speak louder than your words.
Make your conversations stand out
According to Alton Barbour, author of Louder Than Words: Nonverbal Communication, the total impact of your message breaks down like this:
7 percent verbal (the words you are using)
38 percent vocal (volume, pitch, rhythm)
55 percent body movements (including facial expressions)
That means the tone of your conversation is working five times harder than the words you are using.
And all your non-verbal cues are making an astonishing impact that is eight times stronger than your words.
We choose our words carefully, thinking them through and wanting to send the right message. Are you thinking as hard about all the surrounding signals that wrap those words?
How you can increase your impact
Want to know more? Click here for Dialogue Works 12 easy tips to body language that can improve your communication.
Then step it up, use body language to give you courage
Another bit of fascinating research about body language is from Amy Cuddy. She has found that if you stand in the superman pose, legs wide and arms strongly up above your head, you can literally change your body chemistry.
Her research found that two minutes in this position raises your testosterone, which helps you feel brave and lowers your cortisol which makes you feel fearful.
Not only do you feel more confident after you’ve done this, her research implies that other people perceive you as more confident. This is a win win situation when you are going into a stressful meeting or know you’ll be talking to someone senior that intimidates you.
Give it a try. Jump into an empty stairwell and give yourself 120 seconds of Superman posing to jump start your confidence. See her 15 minute Ted Talk about her research here.
As I can’t express anything more than mere words on this page, I’ll leave you to develop your own spin on the hidden signals you use to make your point.