What Does Your Body Language Tell?
It is your choice whether to listen or not listen to someone
talking. You listen when needed and wanted to, but do other
people see you as a good listener? Listening skills are
essential for good relationships and are also a critical skill
in many professions, especially the helping professions. Whether
you're maintaining a happy marriage relationship, counseling
someone with problems, or coaching members of your team for
business success, good listening skills lead others to feel more
comfortable. They will have more confidence in you and hold you
in higher esteem.
You may not realize how important your body language is, when
others view you. It is even more important that your words. So,
what says 'good listener' and inspires in others who speak to
you the confidence that you really are listening? Your body
language, of course! Even if you really are listening to every
word, you won't be seen as a good listener unless you have the
right body language.
A poor listener has many of these traits -leans away or even
turns away slightly, arms folded, maybe a bit of impatient toe
tapping, and frequently looking elsewhere. Or, if someone starts
to read then you know for sure they're not listening! And of
course if your body language suggests you don't want to listen,
the other person will feel less comfortable talking with you and
will be less likely to confide in you. This is a good recipe for
creating distance and miscommunication in a relationship.
A good listener shows five characteristics that can be
remembered through the acronym "SOLER".
S - Square-on Face the other person square on. If you're turned
away, you won't give the impression that you want to listen.
O - Open-posture Folded legs, and particularly folded arms can
be subconscious signals that you really don't want to hear what
the other person has to say.
L - Lean-towards Lean slightly towards the other person. This
indicates an interest in what they're saying. Leaning away from
a person tends to indicate disinterest.
E - Eye-contact Maintain normal eye contact with the other
person. If you keep your eyes down, or keep looking away, you
can give the impression that you're not a comfortable or willing
R - Relax Don't be too formal or stiff. A relaxed posture
suggests that you're comfortable in the role of listener, and
ready to hear everything the other person has to say.
Start practicing your listening body language and SOLER now, and
you will see the improvement of your interpersonal skill and
relationships both on and off your job.