By Kristie DeBlasio, Ph.D., CCRC – Advanced Mental Health Care –
You may think that you are hiding your emotions or thoughts from someone because you are not literally telling them, but it may be written all over your face as they say, whether you like it not.
It has been reported that up to 70% of our communication comes in the form of body language. This consists of facial expressions, posture, and movements that non-verbally communicate to others what we are thinking and feeling. Just as we can send these signals unintentionally, people may even make interpretations or assumptions unknowingly based on these cues. Because this can lead to misinterpretation and confusion, it is important to become more aware of what messages we may be sending off.
The way our eyes unintentionally move while we are speaking with others may tip them off more so than any other nonverbal cue. Therefore, it is very important to keep a balance between looking directly at someone while talking and breaking eye contact with them. This will present a combination of honesty and directness, yet not make the person feel uncomfortable as the listener. When you are listening, it is important to maintain that eye contact, as this shows a level of interest, understanding, and confidence. However, be cognizant that giving someone the “death stare” when listening may make them feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Our posture also indicates our current state of mind and is why it is important to sit up when trying to portray a level of comfort and confidence. Unfortunately, chronic sagging may suggest low self-esteem, not to mention what it will do to your posture in the long run. It is also important to give a person their personal space, unless you know the person well enough that it would be more appropriate to maintain a more intimate position. The usual rule of thumb is to stand within arm’s distance of the person.
More specifically, continued movement of the hands and legs suggest a level of anxiety, boredom, and/or rigidity. Therefore, it is often recommended that people sit in a neutral position with their hands placed gently on their lap with their legs crossed at the ankles. This also helps to keep hand gestures and leg movements to a minimum.
Becoming more aware of our habits when communicating with others can help foster success during our personal and professional interactions. It can be hard, however, to pay attention to every detail of our body language at the same time we are trying to remain an active listener or an engaging speaker. Thus overall, just keep in mind that we want to portray an open and welcome image of ourselves, and the rest will likely follow.
Call 561.333.8884 or visit www.advancedmentalhealth.com