Body Language: Body Language in Action – Part 2

Body language is one of our most requested training topics for a very simple reason – people are generally unaware of what their body is communicating to the world around them. Despite this lack of awareness, it can make a world of difference in the way people interact with you. Remember from Part I “when you are in public, your body is sharing thousands of messages every minute, while you only may speak a few hundred words or less.” Managing your body language effectively has real-world impacts on whether people like you, whether they trust you, and whether they do business with you.

For example, let’s look at a physician or nurse interacting with a patient. They may have a clip board or tablet in their hands as they are interacting with a patient or family. As they write or type in information, they may be completely unaware that they are holding the item in a way that creates a barrier between them and their patient. While this may seem inconsequential, the reality is that this simple unconscious action can have a significant impact on patient satisfaction scores.

Liking, the psychological concept as it relates to influence, can be adversely affected by barriers. Think of the feeling when you have approached a counter and the person serving you was behind bullet proof glass; maybe a government office or a bank, somewhere that security is high. The encounter probably felt impersonal to say the least. The psychological impact of a barrier creates a separation, ultimately leading to a cognitive dichotomy of “me on this side vs. them on the other.” This barrier need not be bullet proof glass, a clipboard will do just the same if not managed appropriately. This is probably not the feeling that a physician or nurse wants in their interaction with a patient where trust and liking are critical to achieving patient outcomes. Ironically, the patient may not even be aware that this barrier is what caused them to feel a lack of connection to their provider. However, it still factors into the patients subconscious, and effects their satisfaction.

These examples exist everywhere. How about the salesperson who follows you in a store, staying far enough back that they think they are being unobtrusive? Department stores are learning that aggressive sales tactics and ambush style approaches are a thing of the past, so these new “follow and prowl” approaches are becoming common place. Someone should enlighten them to how the human brain works. Our limbic system perceives this nearly instantly in most cases and immediately classifies the prowler as a potential threat. This kills trust, psychological safety, and rapport. Following someone is not such a good idea if you want them to feel comfortable and like purchasing something. But, if you are not aware of this and think you are being helpful by being close at hand in case the customer needs an answer, your body will have betrayed you.

Through body language, we can quickly build liking, notice when others are uncomfortable, and adjust our behavior to better suit the situation. If people like you, they are more likely to do business with you. Hopefully, this article will help you become more aware of your own body language, because if you are not careful, your body will betray you…

If you want to learn more about the Behavioral Intelligence approach to body language, contact us today and explore our training and coaching programs. We also consult with organizations for interviews, negotiations, jury selection, sales training, customer service, patient satisfaction, and conflict resolution.

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