Research has shown that people with a better understanding of body language are more successful at selling, leading, and getting what they want from any situation. They are more likely to convince people to trust them, and more likely to be perceived as "charismatic" by others.
Why is body language such a tremendous factor to success — and why should you devote extra minutes in your week to mastering it? Here are three solid reasons why:
1. People lie, but their unconscious actions do not
Sigmund Freud, an early believer in the utility of body language, believed, as do many researchers, that although we cannot rely on the truth of words, nonverbal behavior often does project truth. Through body language, people express their conscious and subconscious emotions, desires, and attitudes. Body language, therefore, gives us a window into someone's real intentions, whether they are honest or not.
Intuitively, we can often tell just by looking at someone when they are lying, scared, angry, happy, confident, or upset — but we often encounter people we simply can't get a "read" on. A mastery of body language will give you specific tools to help you identify what gestures, movements, or body parts to focus on when you are evaluating the honesty and credibility of another person. With this same knowledge, you'll also know how to use body language to communicate honesty, credibility, and trust to the people you are dealing with.
2. Better communication; better relationships
Did you know that, unless we understand nonverbal body language, we are losing as much as 50% of the message that is being communicated? By increasing your awareness of body language, you can read the emotions and attitudes of others you interact with at home and at work. As a result, you will have a greater awareness of all your interpersonal interactions. This increased rapport with, and understanding of, others leads to increased trust and productivity.
The study of body language can also help improve others' understanding of you. The better you are able to transmit messages so that others receive them as they were intended, the more effective you will be. Therefore, be acutely aware of the nonverbal messages you are projecting. You can increase tension and decrease trust simply by projecting negative body language or by lacking sensitivity in observing the nonverbal communication of others. The "bad vibes" that result can be disastrous to present and future relationships.
3. The language can be mastered
The ability to understand body language is not related to IQ, the ability to take tests, or the grades one makes in school. Studies show that practice makes perfect. People tested for body language comprehension generally score higher on second and subsequent tests than on their first tries.
Here is perhaps the best reason of all for increasing your understanding of body language, starting today: You have no excuse not to. Start simply and commit one hour a week to reading about body language and/or analyzing the body language you and others bring to every encounter. In a few months, I guarantee you'll be consciously shaping your body language to produce the best results!