Why Your Body Language Matters

Workplace DramaLast week’s blog post discussed the difference between saying I have to do something, and I get to do something. The words we use are one type of communication tool, body language and tone of voice are the other components of any message. Today’s post is about body language.

You may be familiar with what is referred to as the 7-38-55 rule by Albert Mehrabian. Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, create this rule. The rule is based on his findings that words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and facial expression accounts for 55% of the message. He is quoted as stating:
“The non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are in-congruent: if words and body language disagree, one tends to believe the body language.”

A recent client was preparing for a job interview and we did a practice session before she went on the Zoom interview with her potential new employer. I noticed two things during our conversation. First, she was slumped in her chair and second, she often curled her shoulder length hair around her finger. Both could have been interpreted as a lack of confidence or disinterest on her part.

Hour after hour sitting in your chair for virtual meetings can get tiring and good posture may slip. Taking stretch breaks in between calls can help you to sit up straight when you return to your chair. Another technique is to plant your feet flat on the floor. Avoid crossing your legs, even at the ankles.

Not everyone has long hair but anything in your hands is a distraction for the viewer. Best to put your hands folded on your lap. Avoid resting your chin on your hands or drumming your fingers on the surface in front of you.

Remember to smile. Smiling releases, the “feel good” chemicals in your brain: endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe. When interacting with others a smile is contagious and makes you more attractive. People are drawn to people who smile.

What has been your experience when you notice a disconnect between what someone is saying and how they are delivering the message? I’d love to hear from you, so be sure to post your comments.