What Are You Saying Before You Even Speak?

While having lunch in a public space, I noticed everyone around me almost lying flat in their chairs while talking to their friends, others were playing with their shoes and sitting in a hunchback as if they were carrying a backpack full of stones on their back. Although that restaurant had a relaxed ambiance, it was still alarming to pick up on the non-verbal queues its patrons. Even more, I continued to notice these trends almost everywhere I went. Are we aware of how much our body language says? Do we realize how much it can affect our interactions with clients, co-workers and even future opportunities?

Conclusively, psychologist and behavioral experts agree that our body language is extremely important when it comes to sending the right message to others. Studies have demonstrated that having a positive body language ensures the development of positive relationships, influence and motivate others, and can even improve our productivity.

Here are some #BuenaGente tips to improve your non-verbal communications and boost your confidence and credibility:

1. Stand and sit upright:

Standing up correctly we look better - our grandmothers were right when they told us "stand up straight, head looking at the horizon and shoulders back". When seated - both feet should always be on the floor and arms at the sides, never resting crossed on the thighs. Crossing your arms can send the message that you are hiding something or feel uncomfortable with the person you are communicating with. Open arms translate into being welcoming and accepting of the situation you are in. 

2. Maintain positive eye contact:

It is recommended to maintain eye contact between 50 to 60% of the time when we are interacting with others. We should avoid getting distracted by what we see on our phones, who we see passing by or other conversations. Eye contact can be interpreted as a sign of attention and respect to the person you are communicating with. Avoiding eye contact can demonstrate that you are not interested in or feel uncomfortable with that person. A simple technique is to look at the other person's eyes long enough to realize what color they are.

3. Talk with your hands:

When we incorporate gestures into interactions, verbal content improves and the use of fillings such as "ums" and "uhs" disappear. The ideal is that the hands speak under the chest, open and semi-open, to avoid that we look aggressive or abrasive.

4. Reduce nerve gestures:

When we are nervous or tense, we move our feet, play with the pen, with our hair or nails - and automatically lose credibility. Calmness projects confidence.

5. Smile:

The brain prefers cheerful faces. We can even identify one 300 feet away. A study from Duke University validated that we always remember those people who smile at us. Better yet, that smiling influences directly how people respond to us, because we manage to change the mood of others positively. However, remember there is a difference between smiling and nervously laughing. Consider when it is appropriate to smile and when the situation requires for seriousness. 

Perhaps our attention span has been compromised by today's fast paced life, that we are not consciously portraying the image and style we would like to portrait. After all, a first impression counts and our posture and how we present ourselves in front of others, not only enhances our external impact, but it can also make us feel more confident, empowered and prepared to take on the challenges of our day. Our body language is an unspoken language that can help us transmit and convey our emotions beyond our words and expressions - so be aware of what you are portraying.