Connect With Body Language
Actions speak louder than words. The way you position your body tells others how available you are to interact and how interested you are in what they have to say. If you want to signal others that you are relaxed, comfortable, open, and interested in them, then “salute” them with your body language. To salute is “to address with expressions of kind wishes.”
Smiling is the most important way you can signal your openness. If you fail to smile, people will think you are uninterested in them or that you are cold and aloof. Wearing a warm smile is like hanging out a welcome sign. It invites people to relate to you.
In conversation, we signal our understanding and encouragement non-verbally through nodding and affirmative vocal sounds. If you don’t affirm the speaker in this way, she will probably assume that you disagree with her or are disinterested in what she has to say.
- Lean toward
Leaning towards someone indicates your desire to engage with him or her. But only lean slightly. Leaning too far can indicate aggression.
- Unlock posture
Crossing your arms, closing your hands, holding your arm across your chest, clasping your hands together, or crossing your legs away from the other person are closed positions. They signal that you are defensive, guarded or closed to interacting. Unlock your posture to communicate openness.
Touching expresses caring. If you want to show someone warmth, put your left hand on top of her right hand while shaking hands, touch her arm, pat her back, or give her a hug. The physical contact signals that you are open to emotional contact.
- Eye contact
The eyes are the most expressive part of the human body. Making eye contact is a prerequisite for successful social interaction. Eye contact is a powerful sign of respect and attention. It communicates, “Right now, I am more interested in you than anything else!” If you avoid looking at someone, he or she will think you are anxious, dishonest, or disinterested. While conversing, make eye contact for between one and ten seconds at a time, more while listening than while talking.
Adapted from Conversation Peace