Many people can’t believe that the most important aspect of interpersonal communication is neither the spoken nor the written word, but the impression we give during communication. Have you ever wondered how we express our thoughts or how people nearby perceive us? What the eyes can detect and no alert observer misses is body language. In many cases, it unintentionally betrays more than we would like about our views, feelings and general nature. Therefore, communication is not really just about words and content. Various studies have shown that only 7 percent of the information we perceive is conveyed by words. Another 25 percent comes from the sound and tone of voice, and a full 68 percent from nonverbal communication: This includes facial expression, gestures and eye movements, touch (haptics), position in space (proxemics), the statement of posture (posturology), how a person deals with time (chronemics), or features of handwriting (graphology).
And how does body language work in business? Nonverbal gestures can greatly influence our work life. This generally happens in the following two situations: On the one hand, when nonverbal communication brings business negotiations to a positive conclusion. On the other hand, when nonverbal communication triggers embarrassing situations or causes a faux pas or humiliation. This kind of faux pas or humiliation reveals to our business partner that we lack preparation, are not aware of customs and traditions, are not observing the law or are not interested. If we are not able to notice important information about our business partners, it often leads to a premature end of business talks and sometimes damage to the company’s reputation. The wrong nonverbal communication can expose all of our weaknesses. And that is one more reason why we should not pay attention only to our words, but especially to our mannerisms.
Body language mercilessly betrays our secrets. We need to be aware that body language can vary from person to person and among different cultures and nationalities. If we want to get to know someone better, we shouldn’t rely on our first impression, but must know how to interpret the signals with additional issues. We all know the feeling: We are trying to explain something to someone, but the person’s thoughts are somewhere else. If you know body language, you can read a person almost like a book.