Written By Christian Cellasio
Smith, M., MA. (2023). Nonverbal communication and body language. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/nonverbal-communication.htm
This post is focusing on young adults entering the business world and people who struggle with eye contact and body language.
The phrase “You can’t judge a book by its cover” does not apply in real life. Its true. You are being judged at every moment in your life by the people around you. Its hard to comprehend, but humans are emotional creatures. You get judged by the level of emotion you show in public.
Being in a room with a silly baby makes everyone feel happy, almost guaranteed that you smile as a result of the baby’s happiness. Seeing one of your closest friends shelter themselves, walking around with their head down lets you know that your friend is struggling. It is impossible to not share your emotions, and by those social cues, you get perceived a certain way from surroundings. Social cues from body language help communicate emotions to one another, and it is important to be able to have awareness of the emotions you are giving off.
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Body language is one of the only forms of communication that does not revolve around verbal communication. Body language is universally understood regardless of native tongue, background, or culture. It is a way individuals can express themselves and share that emotion with others. Additionally, being able to read the body language of others is equally important. With that being said, it requires cultural awareness, as simple hand gestures could be perceived differently by different cultures, such as the “A OK” being perceived as a symbol of hate in countries such like Germany and Brazil (Smith, 2023). Being able to read another person allows you to offer support or insight into their emotions.
Being able to observe another’s body language is crucial in being able to understand their emotions on a stronger level, however, body language is important for yourself as well. Think of yourself as a billboard, and you are the advertisement. Being able to display strong body language is important to potentially gain confidence and respect of others.
Listening with your ears is not enough; when you listen with your eyes, you are able to gauge a stronger understanding of your conversation. According to research, approximately 55% of communication is conveyed through body language, 38% through tone of voice, and only 7% through words, showing that body language not only enhances your understanding in emotion, but it allows you to understand what they truly mean on the deepest level (Smith, 2023). Strong body language is a sign of confidence, and in the world of business, fewer things are as important as confidence. During a presentation, if the speaker begins to panic and overwhelm, that emotion sends confusing messages to your listeners and makes your information seem unreliable.
Remember going over to a girls house and telling yourself “Firm handshake and look him in the eye” for what you would do when her father opened the door? Yeah, those small cues go a long way in gaining respect. In an interview, being able to answer questions and looking professional are important, but if you can’t look and act confidently, you’ll never get that job. Encounters like these are more common than you may realize in society. In professional environments, you are constantly being judged by your body language and it is up to you, and only you, to be glowing in confident body language. Often times in the business world, when considering promotions, employers already know which candidate they want to hire even before interviews start, because of how you professionally carry yourself, and that brings us back to how you are being constantly judged at all times, and it’s important to have the self-awareness and to carry yourself properly. So, the next time you go into a waiting room for an interview, never have your arms crossed, and most importantly: ALWAYS KEEP EYE CONTACT.
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What’s equally important is remembering to read the room. Being able to adapt your body language is also key, as it makes you feel more relatable when you know when it’s appropriate to go from a professional to a more casual environment (Smith, 2023).
The development of body language is something that younger generations are struggling with, as the world is moving digital, younger people have less experience to practice body language skills and gain confidence in those professional scenarios. As well as the fact that people spend more time than ever with friends over the phone rather than in person, we are losing face-to-face encounters, not being able to utilize body language to our advantage. As the younger generations are entering the ‘real world’ for the first time, it is important to be aware of these social cues by form of body language. It is important to practice positive body language skills; whether that’s talking to yourself in the mirror, writing and studying scripts, or however you deem appropriate, it is increasingly necessary to practice for your own self confidence. It’s also to understand the meaning of being there for a loved one. In this digital world, a text message saying “are you ok” is not good enough. Often times people need that shoulder to cry on in times of distress, or a person to hug when celebrating a milestone. Together, let’s work towards improving both our non-verbal and body language cues as well as recognizing those cues of the people around us.
- Diverse Forms of Communication: Body language can be expressed in many different ways
2. Adaptability and Evolution: Embrace societal times and how people show their emotions and being able to adapt to the different social groups and relate to them
3. Seeking help: Dont be afraid to reach out, as learning body language is growing yourself socially and reaching out or asking clarity questions is a form of growth
Takeaway this: Body language is important. It is a necessary component in professional environments to display a level of confidence and to match the professional atmosphere, but it’s equally as important in your personal lives. Reading social cues and seeing the emotions of your friends and family allows for strong connections and deep understandings. Mastering the language of the body enhances both our professional presence and personal relationships, fostering meaningful connections and a more insightful understanding of those around us. What aspects body language and nonverbal communication are you most excited about strengthening in your personal and professional lives?