Have you ever heard the saying, "Actions speak louder than words"? Well, that couldn't be truer when it comes to the fascinating world of nonverbal communication. In a world where words are plenty, it's easy to forget just how powerful our nonverbal cues can be. Top tip—non-verbal is way more important than anything we say, so we really do need to pay attention here. Let's embark on a journey together to explore the incredible influence of nonverbal communication and learn how to harness it to boost your confidence, connect with others, and make a lasting impression.
The Silent Conversation
Think about it: a significant part of our daily communication isn't spoken or written. It's conveyed through body language, facial expressions, gestures, and even our tone of voice. I pick up on people’s energy too. If I see someone is a mood-hoover, I’ll literally spin round back into the lift and go up or down a few flights rather than be sucked into their negativity. You know what it’s like, you walk into a room and there’s a vibe. Nobody’s said anything but you can tell they are: conspiring, complaining, blaming, reassuring, sharing, etc. This unspoken language, often referred to as "body language," is an essential aspect of human interaction. It can express emotions, reveal intentions, and convey messages that might be different from the words coming out of our mouths. Our audience can pick up on this, so it’s good to be aware of what your body is saying when you think your words have you covered.
The Power of Body Language
1. Confidence Is Key
Have you ever noticed how a confident person walks into a room? They stand tall, shoulders back, and make eye contact. It’s got nothing to do with weight, or clothes—it has everything to do with their attitude. Adopting confident body language can, in turn, make you feel more confident. Even if you don’t feel your most vivacious self, if you can get into the posture or act “as if” then you look more confident and actually begin to feel more confident too. So, next time you're feeling a little unsure, strike a power pose in front of the mirror, and watch your self-assuredness soar. I do this exercise a lot with clients, motion creates emotions and vice versa. I get them to act demure, ashamed, proud, angry, charismatic—a whole array of emotions and then I ask them to move in those different styles, emulating the behaviour of a shy, embarrassed, etc. person. When you know how you DON'T want to feel and how you DON'T want to be perceived, you become mindful of how you hold your body. We DO want to be perceived as confident so let’s find out how to do that!
2. Eye Contact
The eyes truly are windows to the soul. Maintaining good eye contact shows you're engaged, attentive, and trustworthy. It shows you trust yourself to hold the contact. That takes confidence fueled by self-belief powered by self-worth. It's a simple yet potent way to connect with someone on a deeper level. Top-tip there’s a timer on this one. Don’t hold the gaze too long or it’s creepy. There’s an art to it so practise this one a bit.
3. Smile Like You Mean It
A genuine smile is a universal sign of warmth and friendliness. It can break the ice, diffuse tension, and make you instantly more approachable. So, don't be afraid to flash those pearly whites! Just like eye-contact tool, there’s a limit to this one. We don’t want to go too broad like we’re hiding something, we’re about to sneeze or we don’t know what to say next. And we don’t want to go too small like we’re plotting our escape route, have just smelled off-milk, or can barely stay awake. It’s a nice, sincere smile that evokes the same from others when they mirror us. What’s mirroring? Read on!
Ever notice how when you get along with someone, you tend to mirror their body language unconsciously? Or they start doing as you’re doing. This mimicking builds rapport and a sense of connection. It's a subtle yet effective way to establish a bond.This is fun to try out subtly with your friends. If you’re having a coffee and she puts her elbows on the table, do the same. See if you notice it when others are mirroring your behaviour. Maybe as you touched up your lipstick, a colleague reached for her make-up bag.
The Impact of Tone and Pitch
Your voice isn't just about the words you speak; it's how you say them. I do this exercise with clients. I get them to say the most appalling things to each other. They are literally insulting each other but in the kindest tone. It’s so confusing because we get drawn into the kind tone and don’t notice the cruel words. Obviously we make it all better afterwards! The tone, pitch, and cadence of your voice can convey a myriad of emotions and intentions.
1. Tone of Voice
Speak with a friendly and warm tone, and your words will carry more influence. Avoid harsh or aggressive tones, which can put people on edge.
A higher pitch can make you seem more approachable and enthusiastic, while a lower pitch can convey authority and confidence. Adjust your pitch to suit the situation. Stay in your range though, you don’t want to strain your voice.
Don't underestimate the power of a well-placed pause. It can add emphasis, give your listener time to digest information, and make you appear more composed. It also adds authority to your communication. Charismatic people don’t need to speak ten to the dozen because they have confidence and poise. Even if you’re feeling nervous, actively slow down and enjoy that feeling of being in control. Don’t rush, take your time and enjoy the breathing room. Your audience will mirror that and breathe with you.
The Art of Listening
Nonverbal communication isn't just about what you convey; it's also about what you perceive. Active listening involves not just hearing words, or waiting for the moment you can pounce in and interrupt. It also means paying attention to body language and tone. Listening is a crucial skill in effective communication.
When someone leans in while you're speaking, it's a sign of genuine interest. Similarly, crossed arms or a turned-away body can indicate disinterest or defensiveness. People often read into this gesture and assume the person is closed off, but sometimes they’re just cold. Stay flexible in the way you perceive body language.
A simple nod of the head shows that you're tuned in and validating the speaker's words. It encourages them to continue sharing. Women will often add to this cue with affirming sounds or even words. If we add too much, it can be disruptive.
3. Eye Movements
Watching someone's eyes can reveal a lot. If they're frequently darting around or avoiding eye contact, they might be uncomfortable or hiding something. It’s a sign there is something else on their m
ind. If you look away, it’s often because you’re bored, right? Sometimes I’ll flash a look at my phone, meaning I’d rather be on it than in this convo.
Confidence, Connection, and Lasting Impressions
In a world where we're constantly bombarded with information, mastering the art of nonverbal communication can set you apart from the crowd. It's a powerful tool that can boost your confidence, help you connect with others on a deeper level, and leave a lasting impression. People-watching at coffee shops? I love doing that. Now you can observe others and yourself knowing a few of these behaviours.
So, ladies, remember that your body speaks even when you're silent. Embrace the power of nonverbal communication, and watch as your personal and professional relationships flourish. Whether you're at work, out with friends, or meeting new people, your nonverbal cues can help you convey your authentic self and build connections that truly matter.
Now, go out there and own your nonverbal superpowers! If you’d like to go further with me, I’d love that too, reach out and email firstname.lastname@example.org