You'd think that talking to people face to face would be by far the easiest way to communicate, wouldn't you, and that can be true. But did you know that according to Professor Albert Mehrabian only 7% of the actual words we speak make up the communication, with 38% being the way we say what we say, and a massive 55% body language.
What that means is for your communication to ring true, your message, the way you convey it and how you feel about it have to be aligned.
If for example you say “I'm really OK with this!" but you're avoiding eye-contact and looking stressed, the person you are talking to will probably realise that you're saying one thing and meaning something else.
This knowledge may be a bit worrying and make you feel rather exposed, knowing that people can read your communication so easily, and if it does, what can you do to make your communications feel more comfortable?
Here are a few tips I've found work for me and my clients.
1. Listen with awareness. When you find yourself drifting away, consciously bring yourself back.
2. If you're not really interested in what's being said but you know you can't escape, act as if it is really interesting. Tell yourself there's something to learn and make a point of sitting and leaning forward, or if you're standing lean in slightly (but not invading the other person's space), keeping eye contact, asking a question if appropriate. You might be surprised to note that the subject was more interesting than you thought it would be.
3. To help you concentrate, listen for three things that you can either reflect back to the person you're talking to or note for yourself. This will give you a focus of interest.
4. Smile - if you want people to talk to you, scowling with your arms crossed is not attractive.
5. Keep practising - the more you work on making your body language match what you say and the way you say it, the easier it will get.
Of course, it's all about rapport but this time it's about being in rapport with yourself!
Pam Stokes is a Business & Personal Development Coach. She also provides e-learning solutions for busy people, supervises newly qualified and trainee coaches, runs workshops in stress management and a Diploma Course in NLP. Free downloads and blog www.pamstokesassociates.co.uk/coaching