Did you know that your body language can help or hurt your level of success? Surprisingly, your voice inflection, facial expressions and body language comprise up to 90% of your message. Body language or nonverbal communication is extremely important in business given that humans produce over1:
- 700,000 signs
- 5,000 distinct hand gestures
- 250,000 facial expressions
- 1,000 different postures
To maximize your audience’s correct interpretation of your overall message, you must align your posture, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues with your verbal message. Here are four different scenarios and the ideal respective body language you can utilize to communicate successfully.
- Meet a prospect for the first time. The goal of this step is not to quickly close the deal, but rather to develop rapport and establish trust—all in an effort to create a relationship with the prospect. To demonstrate that you are open to your new friend, maintain eye contact; smile as often as possible; nod to communicate that you understand and do not back away when the prospect speaks. Dale Carnegie’s 7th Human Relations principle is, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.’ Your body language must demonstrate that you are listening and understand the prospect, so avoid folding your arms, rolling your eyes, yawning or any action that communicates you are uninterested, frustrated, bored, etc.
- Present a sales presentation. The goal of this step is to align your body language with the content of your presentation. Dale Carnegie’s 14th Human Relations principle is, ‘Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.’ This can be accomplished by focusing on your audience instead of your computer screen or slides. For example, when sharing the most salient aspects of your product or service, move towards the audience. Dale Carnegie once said, “The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. The radio does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.” Strong presenters use congruency and showmanship in both verbal and physical communication.
- Rally team members. When the time arises to take charge of your team, the goal is to be assertive rather than aggressive. The proper leadership stance in this scenario is to maintain a dominate posture by holding your head up high, standing up straight and keeping your shoulders back. Lean forward when you talk and lean back when you want the audience to respond to show that you are open to their feedback.
- Disagree agreeably. The use of opposites is at play here in that the goal is to state your opposing view with verbal communication, but to use your nonverbal communication to support the other person. This can be accomplished by raising your eyebrows or nodding to demonstrate your receptivity, and touching the other person in an appropriate and non-threatening way. Applying Dale Carengie’s 5th Human Relations principle, ‘Smile,’ here will also enable you to disagree agreeably so as to maintain trust and respect.
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