Marketing Corner: Keep an Eye on Body Language
by Kimberly Alford Rice
How we stand, what we do with our hands, where our eyes glance - these non-verbal actions communicate volumes about our thoughts and ideas, without ever opening our mouths to utter one word.
As attorneys whose careers turn on oral arguments and persuasive soliloquys, mastering the art of non-verbal communication is key to your success.
What does your body language say? Does it say you are confident, smart, and enthusiastic - or just the opposite?
Only a small percentage of communication involves actual words: 7 percent, to be exact. In fact, 55 percent of communication is visual (body language, eye contact) and 38 percent is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice). The world's best business communicators have strong body language: a commanding presence that reflects confidence, competence, and charisma.
Here are some signposts to be aware of exactly what you are communicating with your body:
Hands clasped in front: Communicates discomfort with what is being said.
Arms folded across chest: Resisting what is being said.
Hands on hips: Communicates defiance and impatience.
Hands fall to the sides: Your message is getting across. Similar as when you lay your hands naturally across the lap.
Leaning forward (seated): You are interested and listening more closely than before.
Hands near face: Either 1) are being less than honest; or 2) have serious doubts about what another person is saying.
Rubbing the cheek or forehead: Telegraphs anxiety.
Hand to the back of the neck: You want to leave, are "pulling" yourself out of the conversation.
Breaking eye contact - Break the connection between you and to whom you are speaking. Conveys that you are less than interested.
Darting eyes (i.e. checking out everything but your speaking partners) - Communicates dishonesty and nervousness.
Eye-to-Eye Contact - You are interested and engaged in the conversation. The actions described above are just a few indicators that you should take note what your body is saying to others when your mouth is closed.
Awareness is the key to improvement. So work on your body language. Pay as much attention to it as the words you use, and watch your influence soar!
Kimberly Alford Rice (firstname.lastname@example.org) is principal of KLA Marketing Associates.