Shocked to hear I was being undermined by my body language!
I'm a very relaxed person. I always have been. My hands are always in my pockets, I lean to one side and I slouch too. It’s the way my body is made; I’m hyper-mobile so it takes effort standing up straight or sitting properly. But other people don’t know this. So what does this body language communicate? Well, when I was a student participating in a workshop many, many years ago we were involved in an exercise looking at exactly this and some of the comments shocked me.
"You look bored".
"You look so uninterested in what’s going on."
"You look arrogant."
What? I am enthusiastic and always fully engaged in any workshops session and I contribute fully when I speak, however my body language was totally undermining me. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter that I was engaged or that I was thinking deeply about what people were saying because they can't see that, what they can see is my actual non-verbal communication and the two things were not well connected! I was unintentionally communicating the complete opposite to what I wanted! Let's be really clear, this is different to hiding your true feelings of boredom in a meeting and your non-verbal communication gives you away (Although, that is something to be aware of!!!).
So what do we do?
Well, the best way to guard against this is to find out how people are actually interpreting your body language when you communicate and my 1-to-1 coaching or workshops are the best way to really understand this in a safe, controlled way.
If you can be aware of it, then look at your breathing (read my previous blog on this). Breathing properly has so many advantages but it this scenario it keeps you centred, calm and will give you more focus. If we want to belly breathe, we have to sit up or stand straight. A top tip if you're in a meeting is to sit towards the edge of your chair. This stops you from slouching, which not only helps your breathing but also makes you look engaged. If you’re standing up, then stay centred with your weight equally distributed, which gives the appearance of being ready to communicate and attentive. Getting into these habits daily will help you look engaged and connected to the person speaking.
If you're wondering what people really think you're body language is telling them when you speak (or when you're listening!) or to improve your confidence in this area, then get in touch for some 1-to-1 coaching, or to arrange a workshop.