Understanding the Role of Your Body in Communication


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.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.