Whenever we talk to someone, we don't so much pay attention to what they say as how they say it. As it's been said before, 70% of communication is done through body language. So, it would seem to be important to understand what the body is saying, especially in business.
In his post on SalesGuru, John Boe begins with a great example of the power of body language using the Nixon vs. Kennedy election. Right after their pivotal debate, opinion polls reported voters watching on TV felt Kennedy had won, while radio listeners were sure that Nixon was victorious. What it came down to - for the TV viewers at least - was that Kennedy looked more presidential.
It is with this in mind that we look at business communication. What is your customer telling you verbally that their body suggests otherwise? What signals are sent that a co-worker is unhappy, in disagreement, or upset with a project or policy? More importantly, if you could know all of these things all the time, how better would you communicate?
Boe's blog post is mainly geared for sales, but his points can be used for negotiations as well. "Mirroring" is one such tactic. This is where you mimic the other person's subconscious body language and it sends the signal to them - again subconsciously - that you like and agree with them.
These signals and tactics aren't for face-to-face communication only. They can be invaluable during a video conference as well. In fact, the signals may even be easier to spot. Most people on a video conference tend to make sure they are clearly visible and close enough to the camera to be seen well.
This makes it easier to spot someone touching their ear or scratching their nose. And when they cross their arms, it's like a billboard saying, "I'm against this." If you become good at reading body language, video conferences may be your preferred method of meeting.
At the end of Boe's post is a quiz about reading body language which I highly recommend to you. For example, what would you answer to this question:
1. What emotion is associated with the "palm to chest" gesture?
B. Critical judgment
Go on, give the quiz a shot then see how many body language indicators you see in a day. Good luck!
Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist