What do your unspoken words say?
Did you know that over 45% of what we communicate doesn’t involve words? In fact, Peter Drucker, renowned management consultant observes, "The most important communication is hearing what isn’t said". We give out and respond to thousands of cues and behaviours, including postures, touch, facial expression, eye gaze, gestures and energy. So much can be conveyed with a simple nod, handshake or smile. Some signals are so subtle, we are barely aware of them, but they reveal who we are and how we relate to others.
In life, much of our success depends on being able to communicate effectively, whether it’s one to one, at work, with family or presenting formally. It underpins everything we do. The unspoken word that is body language, plays a major role in this scenario, so it's worth getting under the skin of this fascinating subject.
Have you ever noticed how animals communicate? They are masters at doing this, without words. You only have to watch their body language to see this. Try paying closer attention next time your pet does something. What are they saying to you? How does it make you feel? And how do you respond? Could this learning be something you incorporate into your own communication? In NLP, learning from others who do things well is called modelling excellence - this is something we can use to make changes or get better at doing things.
Body language, intuition, rapport and listening are all very important non-verbal signals. Even silence itself is very powerful! Are you really aware of what you communicate - is it what you mean to convey and is it received in the way you intend?
It's a vast subject and a quick Google search will throw up a boggling array of articles and books to read, if you want to learn more. But here are three top tips to communicate better, if you don't do these already, give them a go and see what response you get.
1) Say it with a smile
A 'real', heart-felt and genuine smile not only stimulates your own sense of well-being, it signals to others that you are open, approachable and trustworthy. You can tell when a smile is real, because it lights up the face and lingers for a while. It really does change the way people respond to you in a positive way. And, it's amazing how often people return the smile. This simple facial expression can trigger happiness and good feeling for those that give and those that receive - it's the perfect win/win for positive impact on your emotional state.
2) Make the most of mirroring
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" If the Queen had known what was good for her, she would have started mirroring her beautiful step daughter, Snow White. The fairytale ending would have changed, in a good way, and they would have all lived happily ever after! When you mirror someone, it can be an important part of building rapport. Good rapport leads to agreement and harmony and is a fruitful state to be in with those around you. Mirroring is a non-verbal way of hearing someone. To get started, observe your subjects facial and bodily gestures and subtly allow yourself to take on similar movements. This can make the other person feel understood and heard. This builds powerful rapport.
3) Talk with your hands
Broca's area is a part of the brain that has been implicated in the comprehension of language. It also responds to 'speech associated gestures' such as arm and hand movements. These gestures have been shown to complement speech and are meaningful in supporting communication. So, if you were ever told to 'stop waving your arms around when you're speaking' it might be time to debunk this myth and go with the flow. Just use your arms and hands naturally.
Working with a life coach, can help you to understand the meaning behind your body language and how it can help you, hinder you or hold you back. Better communication can improve all areas of your personal and professional life and help you to live the life you deserve.
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About Yvonne Fernando
As a NLP Master Practitioner and Life Coach, Yvonne supports clients through change to give them more confidence, help them become 'unstuck' and move forward - keeping them focused, motivated and on track. Sessions are designed to open up horizons and create new possibilities.