How Body Language Speaks Loud and Clear

How Body Language Speaks Loud and Clear

body-language-2_htm Our bodies are constantly speaking for us, whether we want them to or not.

People who know you well are probably best able to decipher your body language.  You show bodily cues all the time, even (and maybe especially) to the people you work with. You can be nervous about an impending deadline or annoyed at a co-worker who’s not pulling his or her weight. Or ecstatic about good news from home, you’re sending out a steady stream of signals that reveal your internal state. A new paper on nonverbal communication in the workplace by University of Ottawa’s Silvia Bonaccio and colleagues (2016) tells us a bit more about this fascinating area of research.

One would hope that should you be in such a highly visible position, your body and face would cooperate and allow you to look the part of whatever it is you’re trying to convey. Some people are instinctively better than others at this. If you’re not blessed with this ability, it takes some effort—and the Bonaccio et al., paper offers some very helpful pointers.

To clarify, nonverbal communication isn’t just what you don’t say.

People can communicate verbally with their gestures (as with American Sign Language). While speaking by accentuating their speech with certain intonations, such as “uptalk.” Bonaccio also points out that verbal and nonverbal communication often interact.  Such as when you nod to show you agree or inadvertently show fear between your brows while talking to someone who intimidates you. Or when you slap someone on the back following a joke, or say that you’re fine while you wipe away tears.

With these clarifications, let’s look at the five major functions of nonverbal communication and how they translate into what goes on in the workplace:

1. Displaying personal attributes in your nonverbal behavior.

Your body language reveals information about your personality, intentions, and attitudes, according to Bonaccio. But you’re somewhat damned if you do and damned if you don’t exhibit these in your behavior. People who are impossible to read appear stiff or uninterested in their work, in other people, or both.

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