If kinesics or body language is so important, the question is – how to make effective use of it. Given below are some useful tips in this regard:
- Mind the body – talk: In our day – to – day communication we should carefully notice details about the way we speak gesture and move. When standing we should keep our shoulders erect, our body open and our weight evenly balanced on both feet. But we should guard against giving the appearance of a ramrod – straight posture. Such a stiff posture shows rigidity in thought.
We should carefully identify the little things that people do when they are tense. Some people play with their lock of hair or a pen in their hand. Such behavior, according to a psychologist, undermines the strength of what we want to say.
In order to look confident and in charge we should sit squarely in a chair, feet on the floor and shoulders straight. Austin says, “Rest your forearms on the table. This posture conveys the message I will not move”. If we slouch or jiggle our feet, we will give the impression of being indifferent, uninterested or distressed. If possible, we can ask a friend videotape us so that we can see ourselves as other do.
- Be careful with the handshake: In the business world, handshake is very important. It conveys crucial messages about power, status and concern for the person we meet. The handshake that really conveys confidence is firm and dry, with strong but not excessive pressure. Bending the wrist or gripping only the fingers gives wrong signals.
- Establish good eye contact: According to Austin, “Eye contact is the most remembered element in forming an impression of someone. You must acquire the ability to sustain direct eye contact if you want to be taken seriously.”
There is, however, a word of caution given in this regard. According to another psychologist Ekman “the dominant person always has the right to look and keep looking: the subordinate is supposed to look away. If you maintain eye contact so intently that your boss feels uncomfortable, he will sense that you’re challenging his authority – even if that is not what you intended”.
- Communicate at the level of the person before you: The way we hold our body can show the person before us where we and he/they – stand. If we fold our arms across our chest or cross our legs while we talk, we are closing off communication. If we tap our foot/feet, it shows that we are impatient. With young children we should lean against a wall or counter, put our weight on one foot and keep our arms at our side so as to appear open to their needs. With people in higher position a straight posture shows respect.
- We must be ourselves: Maple says, “Non – verbal messages come from deep inside you, from your sense of self – esteem. To improve your body language, you have to start from inside and work out. If you’re comfortable with yourself, it shows. People who know who they are have a relaxed way of talking and moving. They always come across well.” So, avoiding all tension, we must relax and be ourselves, not try to be, or show off to be, what we are not.
- Graceful movements and confident posture improve the atmosphere at the workplace. With only a little care we can look pleasant, send out right signals, enthuse the workers and make the other people interested in us.
- Body language is the most easily visible aspect of communication. It, therefore, helps the receiver of the message in decoding the message.
- Body language complements verbal communication. Especially in face –to – face communication, no message can be completely sent across without the accompaniment of facial expressions and gestures. It helps in establishing rapport.
- Body language adds intensity to the process of communication. In the absence of any gestures, change of posture, proper eye contact any face – to – face communication will look bland or insipid.
- Because people care for body language it goes a long way to improve the overall atmosphere and looks of the organization. A resourceful manager can make very effective use of it.
- Since it is nonverbal communication, relying on facial expressions, gestures etc. it cannot be wholly relied on. Words written or spoken can be taken seriously, but body language cannot always be taken seriously.
- People belonging to different cultural back grounds send out different body signals. They are, therefore, liable to be misinterpreted. One has, therefore, to be very careful in their use and understanding.
- Facial expressions, gestures, postures etc. become ineffective if the listener is inattentive. It, therefore, requires extra care in getting the right message.
- Use of body language is not very effective in large gatherings. It is effective in face – to – face situation that means there are just two or a small number of participants in the communication situation.