The first level of communication involves how we see ourselves, others, our community and the world. Visual communication is a form of communication without speaking. We must remember that sight is perhaps the sense that we rely on the most. For that reason, our appearance becomes very important in dealing with people. We can improve the quality of our relationships by understanding what our body posture and expressions show.
We also need to take pride in our cleanliness and general appearance. The first impression we get from others comes from the way they look. Remember that communication has to do with finding common ground. So, to improve our interactions with others, we can imitate their body language and actions to create a connection. For example, to work with a specific group of people, it would help to dress the way they do, or the way they would like to be.
A great example of how important appearance can be is the influence of television. Some people base very important decisions on what they see on TV. Specifically, in politics, many elections have been won and lost based on how a person looked on TV!
In order to communicate as leaders, we must find ways to make our audience comfortable with us. Visual communicators move their bodies and use facial expressions to get their point across. They usually use detailed descriptions of how things look. To communicate well, we have to remember who it is that we are talking to. For example, a shy person who does not use any movements may feel uncomfortable if we speak to them in a loud voice and are very active. In the end, they may not listen to us for those reasons. If we do not adapt to those we speak with, our message will be much less effective.
Our facial expressions are also very important when trying to get a message across. Imagine that you are trying to get something done, but when you tell someone close to you, he or she shows no happiness in their face. This lack of facial communication may give you the idea that the person does not care too much about what you told them.
If you are a school teacher or martial arts instructor, faces are very important while teaching children. Most children are visual communicators, so they learn by watching. The biggest mistake that some parents and teachers make is trying to teach children by explaining things to them verbally only. It would be better to have visual cues (facial expressions, body language, etc.)
Our emotions are often communicated though our body language – sometimes even accidentally. If we are not careful, they can easily be misread. For example, Jonny is a student who is intimidated by his teacher. When the teacher speaks to him, Johnny lowers his head, avoids eye contact, and only occasionally glances at her. The teacher may view Johnny’s attitude as disrespectful when, in fact, he is just nervous. Another example is that people who slouch show a lack of self-confidence. Standing up straight is a sign of confidence and power.
Excerpts in this article were taken from the ATA Leadership Life Skill Books