Strong leadership requires good communication – body language included.
Studies show that we evaluate a person’s credibility, confidence, likeability and trustworthiness within seven seconds of meeting them.
Let’s start at the very beginning. Strong leaders need strong communication skills. Good communication, though, is about more than words. It’s about body language too.
You won’t convince or inspire anyone without the right body language. Even worse, you might make a bad first impression. However, the right body language – conveyed through your posture, gesticulations, facial expressions, eye contact, touch and smell – will help you build empathy with whoever you’re communicating with.
As a leader, your body language is interpreted and judged almost instantly. In fact, studies show that we evaluate a person’s credibility, confidence, likeability and trustworthiness within seven seconds of meeting them. Seven seconds! That’s well before you can deliver your well-written speech.
How does it happen so fast? Well, because of how the brain works. Body language is fundamentally rooted in the brain’s limbic system.
The limbic system is a set of brain structures responsible for emotion and memory. It’s the part of the brain that receives and processes emotional information. In that way, it serves as a kind of alarm system. As it first receives information, it quickly determines if something is threatening.
Since humans are all wired the same way, and we all have a limbic system, body language is more or less the same across different cultures. Basic expressions of fear, surprise and anger are all the same around the world. That’s also why body language was one of the earliest forms of human communication. It allowed early humans to decide within seconds if a person was a friend or a threat.
Thankfully, nowadays we don’t rely on body language to stay alive, but it remains an important skill in business.