Sunday, 26 May 2013

Body language: Written and verbal communication get all the fame ...

When I talk about communication, my first action could easily be the use of verbal language. It can be quite the challenge finding the right words to explain the message that I want to bring over to someone who possibly thinks in a different way. When I notice someone is having trouble understanding me and words can not support me enough, I tend to use non-verbal communication like gestures, visual aid, body language, ...

Even though I now use body language as a tool to support my communication, I did not use to be aware of how I could use this in my daily life. I think there are 2 ways to use body language. By sending a message or receiving a message. Body language can be very powerful in collaboration with other communication tools like words, tone, clothing, ... I see communication as a cluster of information that gives the receiver the perception of the message.

From the receiving point of view, I will be working as an observer. Detecting problems, searching for feedback based on their reactions, movement, poses, timing ... It is about getting the cluster of information from my observations of the body language and trying to see the underlying message. A good example would be to look on how their expressions and posture change over time while using software I made. Observations like the flow of their typing, how close they are to the screen, how much they change their position on their seat in front of the computer and many other data can give me interesting information that helps me improve the software I made.

A big challenge  is to understand where certain frustration comes from. Body language can sometimes be a cue for understanding where certain frustration are related to and how much they occur. This way you can prioritize the problems you detected and decide how much time you want to invest in solving it.

There are moments where I have to explain why I chose a certain decision, so the person can understand  and make easier the best out of the situation.  A lot of frustration happens when the person does not have a clear understanding of what the current situation is about. Transparency of information is key to an enjoyable collaboration. So a tool like body language can be a great support to reach that goal.

We can use our body language to show a certain attitude that could be beneficial for the situation. Extroverted people can easier connect with people who are expressive in their communication. This makes them more comfortable at talking to you and tell you the things you need to know to solve problems. Using your body language could be useful for breaking the ice when trying to make things happen. People are scared to make mistakes and keep a lot of information for themselves. By behaving yourself as a relaxed person who is not afraid of making mistakes in front of other people and you follow up with showing how to deal with these mistakes, can be a very good influence on the people around you.

Body language is not an exact science. If you would like to have any control about it, you might want to put more time and energy in your daily observation and trying things out yourself. Experiment! Your own experience will become the truth you can build from.

You can use your own body language to appear strong, energetic and ready for action. You might not be all of that when you try to appear like this, but giving this impression to other people can be a good influence. The great benefit of behaving with this body language, is you eventually start to feel like how you are trying to behave. For example : While being in a meeting room, sitting properly with a straight back and chin up, with eyes focused on the person who is talking, can make you feel more confident about your decision making.

Our body shows the current mood of our mind, but we can influence our body through body language. This evantually influences our mind. It works both ways.

I would like to end this article with a reference with an inspirational talk on TED about body language.
This video is definitely worth checking out :)

Have a good day and feedback is always welcome! :)

Robb / Nysuatro