A Q & A to answer the most important and most often asked questions about body language and nonverbal communication
Body language makes up 55% of all communication (according to Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at theUniversityofCalifornia). That means that when it comes to communication skills, body language is without doubt one of the most important areas to master.
How can you use Body language and Nonverbal Communication in Real Life?
Body language and nonverbal communication allow you to convey a great deal to your audience. Body language and nonverbal communication can be used to express personality traits, like trustworthiness, openness and confidence. Body language and non verbal communication skills can also help greatly in putting information across in a favourable light. For instance, imagine a real estate agent saying “This house represents the best value for money property in the area” with a tight lipped smile while looking away and nervously scratching at the back of his head. Now imagine the same line delivered while holding your gaze, standing confidently with hands away from the face and neck and showing a relaxed smile. In the first instance, you would never believe the real estate agent. In the second, you almost certainly would. This is the importance of good body language in communication.
So how can you communicate through body language?
The best way is to learn what different body language gestures and postures mean. For instance, if you want to make a favourable impression in social situations you will want to learn friendly body language. You can discover where you are not showing friendly body language and replace those elements with more appropriate body language.
Is body language communication all about image then?
No. The importance of body language is communication is two-fold. The first is to present yourself in the best way, the second is to read people accurately. This second factor is often seen in a negative light as it can be used to manipulate people. But imagine how much more supportive you would be to family and friends if you could understand why they were feeling without them saying a word. Or imagine how important the ability to read body language would be in criminal investigations. These areas give a snapshot of the importance of body language in communication, but it can be summed up like this: the ability to put yourself across in the best light and to understand what others are feeling without them speaking a word essentially brings people closer together. I personally hope that in years to come, nonverbal communication and body language will bring individuals much closer together by enlightening us all to the subtlety of feelings we all experience, the complexity of which simply cannot be expressed through words.