Last week we discussed a vital, but often overlooked aspect of business communication: effective listening. To be a truly effective communicator, one must not only master the art of communicating their own ideas, but learn to listen and improve receptive communication as well. Today we discuss an important part of active listening: body language.
Good listening isn’t just accomplished with your ears; every part of your body is involved when you’re truly absorbed in a conversation. Make sure that your body language conveys to your conversation partner feels that you’re invested in the interaction and genuinely interested in what they have to say. Face your listener with your whole body, making sure that your torso is directly facing them. Maintain regular eye contact. It is certainly appropriate and advisable to break eye contact periodically—staring too intently can come across as disconcerting—but for the most part, your eyes should be trained on the speaker.
Your body can also play a role in the active listening process. Nodding periodically or even subtly gesturing with your hands is a non-verbal way to remain engaged in the conversation and communicate that you are involved in the exchange. Facial expression is also important—a simple smile, head shake, or raising of the eyebrows can go a long way toward maintaining an active listening role.
Finally, in addition to minding your own body language, you should monitor that of your conversation partner as well. If your conversation partner is confused, bored, or upset, he may not say so directly, but his body language will usually do the talking for him. When gauging another person’s non-verbal communication, it’s crucial to consider all of the different aspects of their body language as a whole. For example, crossed arms may indicate a variety of emotions, but if you take other body language into account, it’s easier to determine what your communication partner is feeling. For example, crossed arms and a downward or sideways gaze often indicate discomfort with the topic or situation at hand. However, if crossed arms are accompanied by direct, somewhat intense eye contact, feelings of hostility are likely.
If you want to sharpen your communication skills and polish your speech, you might benefit from the services of a corporate communications coach. Let our team of corporate speech-language pathologists help you reach your professional potential through strong communication. Give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com. Don’t live in NYC? No problem! Our services are Skype ready, so CSS can help you improve your communication from anywhere in the world.