Apparently, our true feelings can literally leak out of our body. Harvard researchers Ambady and Rosenthal explore how feelings can travel through less controllable channels via the article, “Thin Slices of Expressive Behavior as Predictors of Interpersonal Consequence: A Meta-Analysis.”*
“…people can choose their facial, vocal and bodily expressions. The lack of control of nonverbal behavior could be attributed to a lack of awareness of these behaviors, because people cannot see or hear themselves as others do.”
What does this mean for you? Two important ideas that can help you purposefully communicate in any situation.
- Pay attention to what message you send via your body language.
Are you walking into a meeting, sluggish, with slumped shoulders and yet you want to present yourself interested and confident? Are you interviewing a witness but as you continue your discussion, your shoulders are square with the door instead of the person, subconsciously showing more interest in what is outside the door? In any communication situation, take inventory of what your body is saying. Then, decide if you should make any adjustments to align your nonverbal communication with your verbal messaging.
2. Pay attention to what others are saying to you, via their nonverbal language.
Are you interviewing a suspect and observe that they are anxiously twisting the ring on their finger as they speak with you, showing nervousness? How can you adjust your investigation to take account for their nerves? If you observe that one of your employees rarely looks at you in the eye when you two speak, could this be a signal that increasing rapport and trust with this person could be beneficial for your working relationship and productivity?
I was speaking on communication skills to a group of attorneys. As I was discussing the link between reading jurors’ body language and getting to a desired verdict, I paid attention to where their feet were pointing. While the majority were pointed to the front of the room, where I was standing, I noticed a few were pointed towards the door, possibly indicating a lack of interest. I was then able to adjust my movement and nonverbal communication during the rest of my program, to gain their attention.
The next time you encounter a face-to-face communication situation, ask yourself these questions…
- What message is my body langauge communicating to them? Is this desireable?
- What message is their body language communicating to me? How should I adjust?
Paying close attention to what messaging may be unintentionally leaking out of your body, can only help increase the effectiveness of your communication, each and every time!
Hey there….are you in law enforcement or know someone who is? Click here for information on my upcoming Communication Boot Camp exclusively for Law Enforcement Professionals coming up in February 2018 in the Chicago area.
* Thin Slices of Expressive Behavior as Predictors of Interpersonal Consequence: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin by American Psychological Associations, Inc. published 1992.