Groucho Marx once asked “What would you rather believe? What I say, or what you saw with your own eyes?”
Now, my answer would be “I’d rather believe BOTH!” But, if the question was “What do you believe?”, then – for most people – the answer leans toward “What I saw.”
Research has shown that in face-to-face conversations, people are 8 times more likely to draw their conclusions about you based on your body language than based on your words.
So even if you try to think of the perfect thing to say, they’re noticing your posture, what direction you’re facing, your arms, your eyes and mouth, and your hand gestures.
The words you say are like the words written on the page of a children’s book, but how you physically appear to the other person often is like the page’s illustration that is more memorable to a high percentage of the readers.
So, face the customer or co-worker, with shoulders parallel to those of the other person. Be conscious of your eyes and eyebrows – using them to convey focus and interest in what’s, well, interesting!
Nod to confirm agreement or understanding, smiling to establish rapport and convey warmth. Have good posture – professional enough to convey confidence without appearing rigid.
Use hands and arms to convey openness and interest, and have a slight body lean forward when you’re listening to convey that what they’re saying is important.
It’s the little things that matter to many, and these little non-verbal things matter 8 times more to many people than what you say.
Send the right message to what they’re seeing with their own eyes.