You may be adept at effectively reading body language but how well do you manage and modulate your own physical cues? Many of us work hard to understand and respond to crossed arms, furrowed brows, and fidgety fingers but spend less time calibrating our own nonverbal communication. Noticing how others respond to you can make a big difference in the way you navigate your world.

In fact, researchers in the 1960’s determined that about half of our communication comes from body language. They found that tone of voice contributed less than half and the actual words spoken make up only about 7 percent of our communication. Use the tips below to become more aware and adept at sending the signals that serve you best.

Know Your Predisposition

Some people swing into a room with super-sized body language that takes up an inordinate amount of space and commands attention. Others naturally slide into the mix like an expert diver entering a pool and hardly disturb the surface. Start to notice your own tendencies and assess when and whether they improve your overall communication.

Choose the Right Volume

With a little work, you may find yourself able to crank up or dial down the volume of your body language. The broader your range, the more flexibility you have in getting heard. When you walk into a quiet room, adopting a more sedate set of non-verbal cues can connect you to those already in the room. They can see you as “one of them,” you are respecting the group dynamic, and they will be more able to hear to your words if they aren’t feeling accosted by “loud” body language. Conversely, entering a boisterous environment, you’ll likely want to pump up the volume on your body language. You might use slightly exaggerated hand motions, facial expressions, or body positions to make sure you are being “seen”.

Pay Attention to Feedback

You’ll learn, over time, what volume of body language works best for you – both generally and in specific situations. One of the best ways to improve your body language is to look at the feedback loop. When you dramatically throw your arms up in frustration, what happens? Do you lose attention or gain attention? Is it the kind of attention that benefits your cause? Does a slight tilt of your head encourage others to continue with their story and create a stronger bond or does it go unnoticed? When you glance about the room to signal impatience, does it move the conversation along or create annoyance? Watch the responses and adjust your behavior as needed.

Engaging your body language with intention is a great way to improve and increase your communication effectiveness. These basic tipscan help you get started.

Talk to you next week,

Amber D. Nelson



PS: Our Language of Leadership online, six-week course is coming soon! Sign up on our mailing list or keep an eye out on our web site for more information and to signup!

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