Monday Morning Message | Body Language

Welcome to another Monday! I hope you’re enjoying this series on listening. It just seemed like a great time to review something important to all of us, in all aspects of our lives. The ability to communicate makes you more successful both personally and professionally. This week’s listening skill is: Be alert to your body language.

What you do with your eyes, face, hands, arms, legs and posture sends signals as to whether you are – or aren’t – listening to and understanding what the other person is saying. For example, if you noticed the person you’re talking to…
• Glancing sideways
• Sighing
• Yawning
• Crossing his/her arms
• Looking at the ceiling
• Checking his/her watch or phone
• Cracking his/her knuckles
• Watching the activity around you

…what would you think? Like most of us, you’d very quickly get the impression that the person has no interest in what you’re saying. Try these instead:
• Look into their eyes
• Smile if appropriate
• Raise eyebrows periodically
• Grin at appropriate moments
• Tilt head on occasion
• Lean toward the person if appropriate

These things show that you’re interested in what the other person is saying. In addition, the active listener usually acknowledges the speaker verbally with comments such as “I see,” “Wow,” “Mmmm” or “Really?”

Some people are contact-oriented, while others are much less so, preferring more space between themselves and the people they’re talking to. You’ll be a better listener if you honor those preferences. Again, when you acknowledge the other person both verbally and nonverbally, you build trust and increase rapport. And you’ll probably learn something too!

Something to Think About:

Mary Kay of global cosmetics company Mary Kay Inc. was known for her ability to make whomever she was talking to feel like he/she was the most important person in the room, even though she was usually surrounded by crowds of people when she was talking to someone. If she could do it, as busy as she was, each of us can too!

Weekly Challenge:

Listen – really listen – to one person for a day. Choose someone you could relate to better. Commit to listening to – not just hearing – him/her for one day. After each conversation, ask yourself: Did I really make an effort to go beyond superficialities? Did I observe verbal, vocal and visual clues? Did I note what was not said as well as what was said? Once you’re in the habit of nudging yourself to listen better, extend this exercise to successive days, then to other acquaintances. Listening well is a gift you can give to others. It’ll cost you nothing, but it may be invaluable to them.

Words of Wisdom:

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle

“It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.” – Unknown

“Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.” – Alexandra Stoddard

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield

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