Communication and Trust Part Two: Body Language Speaks Volumes

body language

Body Language Speaks Volumes
(photo by Glenn Loos-Austin)

The other day I posted about communication and trust (click to read Part One) and discussed how certain phrases can build or destroy trust. It’s true that the words you say make a huge impact on how you are perceived, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Your body language must be congruent with your words to really convey an aspect of caring and trust. In fact, your body language might actually trump your words when it comes to establishing trust.

If you want to build trust and rapport with your customers, try using these body language tips along with sincere words to show them that you are listening and that you truly care.

4 Ways Body Language Can Build Trust

Establish Natural Eye Contact— Eye contact engages the customer and shows that you are actively listening. It creates a connection and makes them feel that they are important.

Once I did business with a professional that had difficulty maintaining eye contact. At times it made me question his confidence. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and things turned out well, but his lack of eye contact did make me wonder.

Although maintaining eye contact is important, you don’t want to give your customers the feeling that you are staring them down. If you feel that your eye contact feels unnatural or uncomfortable, glance away for a moment and then resume eye contact to let them know you are still engaged.

body language

What is this boy saying?

Use Welcoming Gestures— Hand and arm gestures help you drive a specific point. Wide arm gestures with open hands and palms facing up elicit a sense of acceptance and welcoming. It works well with groups or in one-on-one settings. If your arms are folded, you might signify boredom and pointing your index finger almost always conveys anger or disappointment.

Make Distance Work For You–Close proximity induces intimacy. Of course you don’t want to be so close that you invade personal space, but by closing the distance you can show your customers that you care. Even something as simple as leaning forward a few inches or choosing to sit closer rather than across the room can make a big difference.

Facial Expressions— Your facial expressions go hand-in-hand with eye contact. Are you smiling? Are you smirking or look arrogant? Do you have a pleasant look on your face or do you look tired and bored?  One thing to beware of is yawning. A yawn instantly closes the connection and says that you are not interested in the person or what they are saying.

Most people do not automatically have perfect body language. It is a skill–something that takes practice. Try watching your facial expressions in a mirror and obtain feedback from trusted friends to find ways that you can improve your body language.

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