What is Interpersonal Communication?
What is Interpersonal Communication?
Have you ever worked for someone who can change the mood in a room without saying a word? Or had a significant other than can break you down with one look or gesture? How about a sassy niece, nephew, or sibling that can command a room using only their expressions or actions? If you’re like me, the answer is yes!
You have encountered these situations more times than you can count but have not paused to think what that “je ne sais quoi” is that gives these individuals the ability to impact others as they do. Often times the powerful people in a group who end up leading are not always the most knowledgeable or hardest working. For years many people have attributed this seemingly inexplicable leadership quality to confidence, however that is not the case. Although confidence is key, body language is that je ne sais quoi that separates makes leaders stand out.
What is Body Language?
Put simply, body language is the unspoken element of communication that we use to purposely or inadvertently communicate messages to others. We can use it to our advantage. For example, it can help us to understand the complete message of what someone is trying to say to us, and enhance our awareness of people’s reactions to what we say and do.
Additionally, we can use this understanding to adjust our own body language so that we appear more positive, engaging and approachable. This will surely help in any negotiation, argument or simple interaction at the check-out counter. Most in-person communication and visual media is nonverbal, and people are constantly emitting silent signals that communicate messages through the sender’s body movements, facial expressions, voice tone and loudness. So when we are able to “read” and “speak” body language, we can use it to our advantage. Being aware of negative body language in others can allow you to pick up on unspoken issues or bad feelings. Thus, as you can see, body language is a powerful communication tool.
Using Body Language to Your Advantage
The more you know about someone’s movements, the more you understand about that person’s inner feelings. The better you understand your movements, the more effectively you convey your spoken messages without any accidental nonverbal signals complicating or conflicting. Here are some tips on how to utilize body language in your daily life:
Convey Confidence With Your Eyes
People who meet your gaze seem sincere and trustworthy, while those who don’t seem either dishonest or lacking in confidence. However, too much eye contact can be uncomfortable. It can feel like an intrusion or an act of aggression. Powerful leaders instinctively know how long to look at you and how long to look away, and do it naturally. Studies suggest the proper amount of eye contact in the U.S. and many other countries should be between 50% and 60 % of the conversation, mostly when listening.
Posture and Self-Confidence
Strong leaders convey their self-confidence and strength subtly but clearly through their posture. An outstretched, open posture projects an image of power and confidence. Legs slightly apart, hands on hips, or making a wide gestures make you look like you are in charge. But it not only makes others think that, it makes you think that, too! By practicing power poses before presentations or meetings, you boost your confidence and subconsciously tell the audience you’re in control, confident about the future, and able to set goals and act.
Random or nervous gestures are distracting, but “speech-associated gestures” complement the words spoken and enhance their meaning. These symbols convey meaning without words. The best gestures, used by great speakers and leaders, naturally support the words and make them easier to remember and understand. Leaders use gesture to get their point across effectively.
From utilizing these tips and our understanding of body language, we can work out whether a person is being honest, is lying, or is feeling happy, sad, fearful, surprised, angry, disgusted or is full of contempt for something. Be sure to avoid negative body language such as: folded arms, body turned away, touching the face, eyes cast down/poor eye contact, and fidgeting with hair, hands, or feet.