Listening with Your Whole Body
1. FACE PEOPLE DIRECTLY
Even a quarter turn away creates a barrier (the “cold shoulder”), signaling a lack of interest and causing the speaker to shut down.
Physical obstructions are especially detrimental to the effective exchange of ideas. Take away anything that blocks your view or forms a barrier between you and the rest of the team. Close your laptop, turn off your cell phone, put your purse or briefcase to the side.
2. MAINTAIN POSITIVE EYE CONTACT
Looking at someone’s eyes transmits energy and indicates interest. As long as you are looking at me, I believe that I have your full attention. Eye contact is most effective when both parties feel its intensity is appropriate for the situation. This may differ with introverts/extroverts, men/women, or between people or different cultures; but in general, greater eye contact- especially in intervals lasting four to five seconds– almost always leads to a greater level of approval.
3. USE OPEN GESTURES
Keeping your movements relaxed, using open arm gestures, and showing the palms of your hands– are all silent signals of credibility and candor. Individuals with open gestures are perceived more positively and are more persuasive than those with closed gestures (arms crossed, hands hidden or held close to the body, etc.).
4. USE YOUR HEAD
The next time you are in a conversation where you’re trying to encourage the other person to speak more, nod your head using clusters of three nods at regular intervals. Research shows that people will talk three to four times more than usual when the listener nods in this manner. You’ll be amazed at how this single nonverbal signal can trigger such a positive response.
5. ACTIVATE YOUR SMILE POWER
The human brain prefers happy faces, recognizing them more quickly than those with negative expressions. Most important, smiling directly influences how other people respond to you. When you smile at someone, he or she almost always smiles in return. And, because facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings (a reaction called “facial feedback,”), the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way. This one simple act will instantly and powerfully send a message of warmth and welcome.