What if you found out you’ve been sending mixed signals to people when you speak? The way you say things may be just as important as the words you choose. Your body language may be sending mixed signals to your patients, your employees, and everyone you meet. If you could learn to read someone’s body language, how could you use that to know you’re getting your message across?
Body language accounts for a large percentage of communication. If your non-verbal communication isn’t consistent with your words, your message may have less impact. In the long run, your ability to communicate well can greatly influence the success of your business.
Here are some tips to connecting better with those around you:
- Maintain eye contact. Trust, confidence, and likability are all associated with maintaining eye contact. For many eyecare professionals (ECPs), this is becoming harder to do in the exam room when we need to record things in electronic medical records and end up spend more time typing into a computer than looking at our patients. Experts say it’s particularly important to make eye contact with your listener at the end of your statements in order to reinforce your message.
- Be aware of your hands. Gesturing can help to get across important points by giving your words more emphasis. Other movements however, such as touching your face, putting a hand over your mouth, or fiddling with something may signal you have something to hide.
- Mirroring your listener’s expressions. Mirroring someone’s actions or movements has been found to help build rapport quickly. By sitting in the same position and using the same gestures as you speak, you will seem likable because they see themselves in you.
- Speak clearly. Not only is it important to speak clearly and confidently, but your tone and how fast you speak affects your communication. Experts recommend speaking at the same pace or slower than the person you’re talking with. Speaking too quickly can make the listener feel pressured or uncertain of your message.
By fixing common mistakes you’re making, and learning to read people and their body language, you can change your behaviors and improve your abilities to get your message across clearly.
ERIC L. BRAN, OD, PROFESSIONAL EDITOR