Every gesture or move you make tells a story. Whether you’re in front of your classroom, working one-on-one with a student, or interacting with a guest or a co-worker, you are sending out a message. I’m referring to non-verbal messages, which are the largest contributor to the communication process. Research shows us that 55% of our ability to communicate effectively is derived from our non-verbal communication. It’s our body language and it plays a significant role in how we communicate, build relationships and rapport with others.
Body language is not just how we hold and move our bodies. It’s how we position our body, how we manage the space between us and other people, it’s our facial expressions, eye contact, mouth position, head placement, how we hold our arms and hands, and even the placement of our legs and feet.
The fact of the matter is most people don’t even think about their own body language, we spend more time thinking about the perfect words to say or how we are going to say it. Often, our body language and our words send different messages. When this occurs, we create a misunderstanding, and people usually tend to go with the message that our body is sending over our words.
As educators it’s imperative that we become conscious of our body language. What message are we sending to our students, co-workers, and/or guests? I suggest you become self-aware and begin paying close attention to your body language. One of the most effective ways to observe your personal body language is to record yourself while teaching. Trust me, I completely understand that just the thought of recording yourself can make you very self-conscious. However, this is one of the most effective ways to observe and evaluate.
When you watch and play back your recording, pay close attention to your non-verbal signs, your body language. Don’t concern yourself with your spoken word. Observe your body position, facial expressions, eye contact, mouth, head position, arms and hands. Is your body language open, inviting, friendly, and confident? Is your body language saying one thing but your voice is telling a different story? Based on your facts and findings you can begin to make small improvements. For example, if you find yourself standing with your arms and legs crossed while you are lecturing, begin the process by being aware and trying to catch yourself as you go. With a little self-awareness you will soon be on your way to effectively communicating and connecting with your students.