You may think that body language is not as important as it once was due to the majority of professional communication now taking place via e-mail or other virtual spaces. However, this actually makes body language more important than ever before.

Think about it. If you have never met a colleague, client or even an employee before, and you are about to have a video conference call with them — or even if you are about to have a meeting in person for the first time — you will not know each other’s mannerism. You may not even know what they look like.

Therefore, your initial body language will be crucial in their first impression of you. This will include the ability to illustrate confidence, trust and commitment.

Fortunately, you can learn how to use body language in business to your advantage, with several key tactics that will help you understand how nonverbal communication can be utilized in the workplace.

Focus on Fostering Connections

When you meet someone, either for the first time or not, you need to build up a connection if you want to successfully communicate.

A smile is the most fundamental greeting there is, and it can speak a thousand words. The best and easiest way to build a connection is to smile.

By the same token, the lack of a smile is a negative communication that you should definitely avoid. After all, nobody likes a grump! Everyone likes a smile, so ensure you smile when you meet people and smile when you say goodbye. 

Assert Yourself

If you are a manager or leader in your business, then you need to be able to instill confidence in your employees and show assertiveness in your business communications. It is vital that you hold yourself in a confident manner to gain respect and trust from your employees, as well as focus on open body language and lots of encouraging smiles.

You may wish to consider embarking on a communication skills training course from where you can learn how to effectively use body language gestures and tone of voice to improve upon how you motivate and manage your team.

Show Your Interest

People’s body language can change dramatically between the times when they speak and the moments when they listen. Often when you speak, you will be animated and use gestures to get your point across. However, many professionals fall into the trap of appearing uncommitted and uninterested when listening purely through their body language.

Thankfully, it is fairly simple to adjust your body language to show an interest in someone else whilst they are talking. This can be achieved by:

• Leaning your head and torso towards the person

• Maintaining eye contact

• Leaning forward occasionally

• Nodding your head to acknowledge what they are saying

Another great tip is to mirror their body language. This is a sure-fire way to put another person at ease by fostering an element of mutuality.

Manage Difficult Situations

Everyone who works has to deal with difficult situations or areas of conflict at some point in their career, but for leaders, how they deal with these disputes is vital to their ability to successfully manage a team.

Body language is key when you are engaging in a difficult or tense conversation such as discussing poor performance or absenteeism as you need to create a feeling of calm rather than stress, anger or nervousness.

Avoid crossing your arms, using tense facial expressions and turning your body away from your employee, and instead, maintain eye contact, sit upright and keep your face attentive, yet relaxed.