Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.
Monitor Your Body Language
Sometimes, our bodies do the talking for us. Non-verbal communication is one of the ways we get create context and emotion in our communicative exchanges . Do you know what you were saying with your body?
Psychologists have studied body language for eons. There are a number of generalizations about what certain body positions mean. Are you aware for example, that crossing your arms while someone is speaking typically means you are not open to receiving the message? Even if that’s not your intent, the person who is speaking may perceive that you are closed off and might develop a defensive reaction as such. When I am conducting couples or family therapy, I often hear comments such as “ I can just tell by the way he looks at me” or “when she stands like that I know what she means”.
Reading Body Movements
Most therapists receive specific training on how to posture their body so that clients will feel heard and safe in a session. Essentially, we are taught how to be aware of our body language so that it fosters an inviting atmosphere. This suggestion is designed to help you develop an awareness of your own body language. Do you stand straight-representing confidence? Or do you slump your shoulder and shy away from your environment? Do you Sit straight or slouch? Do you maintain eye contact when speaking with someone, or do you dart around and glance away? Do you roll your eyes? How does your face register disapproval?
While counseling a teenage girl and her mother for communication issues, we discovered that mom raised an eyebrow whenever she was interested in a particular topic her daughter was speaking of. The daughter, interpreted that body movement as disapproval and would often shut down the conversation. While generalizations are a place to start – do NOT make assumptions based on them. Check in with the person you are talking to… “are you thinking/feeling [this] way?”
Body gestures have been found to be genetic as well as environmental. We all know the classic… Italians talk with their hands. Twin studies have demonstrated that twins separated at birth will often still demonstrate similar gestures; often with similar meanings.
Obviously, good communication requires that we develop awareness of and take responsibility for the message we intend to send when we speak. Part of that message is delivered with our bodies. Because so much of our body language is innate and/or unconscious, it’s important that we give someone we trust permission to highlight or identify those gestures that communicate meaning. As a side note, I would include tone of voice in the body language awareness project… Some people are perceived as yelling when in fact, they are simply expressing their message with passion or enthusiasm. Still others, seem to lack any excitement in their voice at all and are interpreted as to be unmoving, or uncaring. In both cases, an understanding of one’s tendency is important so that we are delivering our messages accurately.
Make the effort today to become a better communicator and …
Monitor your body language.
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