team cheering at the camera for group picture

Understanding Body Language

Published on Sep 3, 2004 by ​​MJ Jennings

Body language, as a cluster of gestures, (like words in a sentence) when considered as a whole will reveal a lot more about what's going on in a conversation, than just the words. Learning to interpret body language increases our ability to fully understand ourselves, colleagues, clients and the messages they convey.

In my opinion it gives you a conscious awareness to what might be going on. I would like to add a caveat here, when isolated one gesture can have a totally different meaning. Understanding body language, the whole picture, can allow you to better assess your clients needs and so allow you to develop stronger business relationships.

It's rare that we critically analyze our own performance in our business lives when considering body language and the underlying messages we give out.

Processing communication and Body Language

Researchers tell us that we process and remember messages from a typical conversation based on the following; 55% Body Language and non-verbal communication, 38% tone, voice pattern and delivery; and only 7% from the words used. Our ability to observe and interpret body language and non-verbal "mmmmmms, ahhhh's", nods and physical positioning is a basic human instinct.
Understanding your own style will give you greater insights into your own behaviour, enable you to better interpret others and to build a more meaningful dialogue.

The 3Vs - Visual, Vocal, Verbal

Awareness of the VISUAL YOU, The VOCAL YOU and the VERBAL YOU (3V's) is all important and will give you the edge in your meeting preparation and performance. By becoming more aware of your own style you can communicate on a deeper level.

Zig Ziglar (motivational guru) said "The secret to making people like you is showing how much you like them."

It's all about building trust, respect and long-term relationships. Understanding and using body language effectively allows you to ease the path to doing this.

​​MJ Jennings

Director, Management Consultant & Executive Coach

A renowned leadership coach with extensive executive coaching experience in a range of organisations across Asia.

All Articles

Recommended Reading