Are you aware of the role of your body in communication? Is your body language congruent with the words you speak, or is it telling a different story?
If you’ve ever listened to someone speak and had a funny feeling, felt disconnected, or couldn’t follow what they were saying, you may have been listening to someone who was not including their body in their communication. Learning how to be connected to your body while you communicate can help your message land more powerfully.
This is true even if you are on a phone call or in an online conference. Bodies have the ability to sense other bodies even when they don’t see them. So if you have the idea that just because people don’t see your body on the screen they don’t get the vibe of what’s going on, think again!
A vital part of my work as a vocal coach and public speaking trainer is getting people to work with their body instead of against it. Most of us have been taught out entire lives to control our bodies. We learn the right posture, how to breathe, how to move, what to say…in order to become the best at what we do.
What I find interesting in my sessions is that, when people start being more present, they become more relaxed and they actually achieve more, every single time. There is flow, fun, and ease in their presentation and they are able to do things they were never capable of before. Their body language becomes completely congruent, which makes it very pleasant as a listener and allows impressive change to happen. The moment they go into their head trying to figure out what is the right way, they lose their presence, words, and focus; they start forcing and the flow usually complete stops.
What if being present is the key to greater communication?
In order to be present you have to include your body in communication, which means you have to, first of all, connect to your body. The more ease you have with relating to your body without judgements and including your body in everything you do, the more ease you will have being and staying present. And the more generative your communication will be.
Here are 5 tips to start including your body in communication:
1. Connect To Your Body
Go for a walk and pay attention to everything around you.
Notice the wind/rain/sun on your skin, the earth under your feet, the flowers and the trees, the sounds of animals around you. Practice this even when you are walking through the city, from the subway to your office or on your way home. Notice the buildings, the people walking past you, the noises of traffic. Be present with everything you walk past.
Then connect to your breathing; are you breathing short or long? Deep or shallow? Just observe your body as it breathes on your walk.
The more you are willing to pay attention to everything, everywhere you are, the more present you will find yourself throughout the day.
“60% of all human communication is nonverbal body language; 30% is your tone, so that means 90% of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth.” – Alex “Hitch” Hitchens
2. Bring Your Body To Work
You want to bring your body to work. When you are not totally present, people you are speaking with in a meeting or presentation will be more easily distracted. Bodies mirror other bodies. If the main speaker is not present, it is very hard to stay present as a listener.
How do you do it?
Put your feet on the ground and connect to the floor and, just as during the walk, connect to your breathing and to everything around you: the chair you’re sitting in, the people in front of you, everything in your environment.This only takes 30 seconds and invites every body in the room to be more relaxed.
If you have a hard time staying present while speaking, you can put one hand on your belly or touch your own leg to remind you to stay connected to your body during your talk.
3. Ask Your Body Questions
What does your body require of you at work to support you?
When you start feeling anxious behind your desk, what do you need? A walk, a drink, fresh air, a day off?
When you have to work long hours, does the chair you’re sitting in work for your body?
When you have a presentation in which you have to stand, which shoes can you wear that will make you look stunning and be comfortable that day?
When you listen to what your body has to say, your body will be more at ease and you will find yourself less distracted, which will allow you to communicate more effectively.
4. Eliminate Judgements
How much do you judge your body? How much is that holding you back from truly including your body in communication?
Judgement is the number one tool for destroying every relationship, including the one with your body. In order to judge you have to go into your head, which causes you to disconnect from your body. Are you willing to give that up?
Stop judging you, including what you said, how you said it, when you said it, and stop judging others for what they said, what they did, or how they looked. Most people aren’t aware of how much they are in judgement of themselves and their body. If you’d like to change your judgements, start being attentive to all your thoughts and every word you speak even when it is not out loud.
How do you stop judging?
The chocolate that comes with the coffee, how you look in the dress, how you looked in the pictures last week, your image in the mirror in the morning, how your colleagues or your boss might see you, what you just said to your co-workers and how you said it—what if all of those were just interesting points of view?
For every judgement that crosses your mind about you, what you said, what you did or anything or anyone around you, think interesting point of view I have that point of view.
Most people base their communication on the past. For example, perhaps you said something to someone and they leave suddenly with a strange look on their face. You start thinking you said something wrong and create a whole story around it. Then you go into your next meeting, still questioning and judging what you just said in your last conversation..
How much will that affect your meeting and everyone in the room and the communication between you and your listeners?
What if you would stop that story so it doesn’t impact your next interaction. Instead, you might wonder what just happened and ask the person later what caused their reaction. Perhaps you find out that they forgot to send an important message or you reminded them of an incomplete task.
When you start functioning from the place where everything is just an interesting point of view, you start being present all the time, with every word you speak.
This will allow you to see when something is going on in a meeting and will help you to address it with a question in the moment. So you will lead every meeting by inviting greater communication.
5. Embody Joy
What brings you and your body joy?
Can you think of the days you walk around after having done something that really brought you joy? How did all your conversations go? There was more ease and more got created out of it, right?
Imagine if you started doing one thing every single day that brings you and your body joy. Take yourself on a date, buy yourself that ice cream on Monday night, get your nails done, take that detour through the park, get yourself that amazing cappuccino around the corner. Just one thing a day that will spice up your life.
Most people like to be around people that embody joy and feel good with their body, because it makes them feel good even when they feel bad. Think of who you like to communicate with more, is that someone that feels good or someone that is primarily working hard and has little joy with the body? The first one usually brings more ease to communicate with, right?
What if you could leave most of the people you had a conversation or a meeting with feeling so good that they desired to create more and work harder?
What all of this ties back to is that the biggest part of communication is not about what you say, it’s about how present you are willing to be. Being present includes your body. Bodies tend to mirror each other in communication, so the more present you are the more you will invite the people you communicate with to also be present and connected.
Are you ready to have more flow, fun, ease in your communications and presentations? Connect to your body, bring it to work with you, ask your body questions, stop judging, and embody joy: these five tips will create a very pleasant space to be in as a listener and will allow impressive change in communication to happen.
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.