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Its all in the eyes…

Its all in the eyes…

Think that the way you look at people has no impact on your networking success? Think again. Body language plays a huge role in communication. Here, Bev talks the basics to help you make sure you are getting across to others effectively

Who you are speaks louder than what you say.

Communication is much more than the words you use.  Numerous studies have revealed that body language and voice tone is more important than what you say.

The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication are powerful tools that will help you connect with others, express what you really mean, navigate challenging situations – and build better relationships.  The way you make people feel can override everything you are saying or doing.  That’s why it is important to endeavour to make people feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

If you smile make certain to involve your eyes!

We have all been in a situation where someone has said something yet their body language – head or arm position, poor eye contact and their voice tone – does not support the words they use. Relationships are built on trust so all aspects of our communication must support this.

I was demonstrating this at a workshop and I was standing with my arms crossed and my body angled away from the person who was speaking to me.  “What is wrong?” the person in the demonstration asked.  “Nothing is wrong”, I answered with a gruff voice, tapping my foot impatiently and flicking my head away from this person.  Obviously my body language was not supporting my comments.
Someone in the workshop audience laughed and called out “so you have also met my wife!”

Your actions will give signals and contribute to the perception others have about you.  So ensure your ‘silent’ or non-verbal language supports your verbal language.  This includes obvious things such as the way you stand, eye contact, nodding of the head and so on. It also includes the less obvious – personal space between you and the other person, your rate of breathing, the speed which you speak and pauses between words and sentences.

Look in the mirror and see yourself as others see you

You may wear the smartest business attire but if you shake a business colleagues hand poorly you will be judged accordingly.

Handshakes are a sign of trust and help build strong relationships.  As a business professional, it is important that you make a memorable positive impression when you are out networking.  Your handshake is just one of the ways you can build a positive first impression and enhance your communication.

The biggest barriers to open communication are fear of rejection, intimidation, confrontation, not being worthy or worse, being considered stupid.  Try to minimise your fears and work with reality so you can move toward better communication outcomes.  By feeling any of the above you may convey insecurity so stand tall and confident – even if you don’t feel like it.  Remember, many people feel uncomfortable talking to strangers so by focusing totally on the other person you will feel more relaxed and attentive. This will assist with open and trustworthy communication.

Here are a few tips to assist you to effectively communicate with others:

  • Accurately read other people, including the emotions they’re feeling and the unspoken messages they’re sending.
  • Create trust and transparency in relationships by sending nonverbal signals that match up with your words.
  • Respond with nonverbal cues that show others that you understand, notice, and care.

Return to Bev's networking articlesYour communication success will be determined by your approach and your attitude.  So think positive thoughts and this will be conveyed through your voice and your actions.