Understanding how we communicate is essential to developing a winning image. Did you know that 55% of all communication is body language? 38% is tone and only 7% are the words we say. Whenever any nonverbal behavior contradicts the verbal, it’s the nonverbal that is likely to determine the impact of the message.
Touching, spatial relationships between speaker and listener, eye contact, postures, gestures and facial and vocal expressions dominate any actual words said. So it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
Body language is important more as an awareness factor than anything else. It does give off impressions to others, so you need to be aware of the various signals you are sending. However, it’s important not to misinterpret. When someone crosses their arms, it may mean they are being defensive or it may mean they are cold.
Usually when someone uses the “steepling” position with their fingertips, it means they are calm and in control. However, it could just as well indicate boredom.
When you combine body language with the actual scene of involvement, it takes on a deeper meaning. If you approach my office, poke your head in and ask “Do you have a minute?” and I put my pen down, lean back in the chair and invite you in, I have indicated I have both the time and interest to deal with you at that moment. If you approach me the same way and I look up, pen in hand, and don’t change position, I’m indicating I’m busy and may have 30 seconds at best.
Good body language which gives off the appropriate message at the appropriate time, goes a long way toward making the proper impression.