How to use body language to improve your communication
Sports professionals often manage groups composed of various nationalities. Nonverbal communication, therefore, becomes a powerful tool to assist in connecting with others, expressing what is really mean, navigating challenging situations and building better relationships. Here are a few hints to help you to use body language to improve your communication with others.
Hint no.1: Be an active observer
It is only possible to use body language effectively if we are aware of how we actually use our body to communicate. Therefore, it is important to take note of how you sit, stand, use your hands, your natural facial expressions, etc. Equally, observe the body reactions of others when you speak to them to see how your body language affects your audience. By paying more attention you can start to ensure that the language you and your audience are speaking is the same.
Hint no. 2: Open up your body
In most situations it is best to keep your body as open as possible to ensure clear and engaged communication with someone. Be as squared off and big as seems natural to the environment you are in. Do not cross your legs or arms; sit up straight and avoid touching or covering your face during a conversation. Try to systematically open yourself up and take more space in the various situations you are faced with.
Hint no.3: Pay attention to cultural differences
Pay attention to cultural differences. It is important to understand cultural differences in body language. Imagine, for example, saying 'yes' to something while at the same time shaking your head sideways - signalling 'no'; such behaviour creates confusion in some cultures but is the norm in others. Make sure to be aware of any cultural differences.
Hint no.4: Do not over do it
It is important to send strong messages to your audience; however, if you exaggerate, you may send them the wrong signals. For example, it is good to look people in the eyes; but staring may bring upon discomfort and intimidation to the person you are speaking to. So pay attention when you smile or approach somebody, for example, and make sure you are not overdoing anything that may keep you from achieving your goals. Try to be subtle rather than imposing and constantly observe yourself and the environment around you to make sure you are acting appropriately.
Hint no.5: Connect your mouth and your movements
It is important that your mouth and body are attached and acting as two complimentary elements. Don't say that you are extremely interested in hearing something while staring off into space or sitting with closed arms. Other people will be paying attention to your body language so ensure that your body and mouth are in sync. There are many different types of nonverbal signals you may send that either produce a sense of interest, trust and desire for connection, or they generate disinterest, distrust, and confusion. In order to master your body language, you will need to practice regularly and in different settings; eventually, you will feel comfortable in different poses and have a more natural and effective behaviour when in public.