19 Simple Ways to Improve Your Body Language Now

by Angy
body language in social work

Social work is a relationship-based practice, and communication is key when forming positive relationships.

So what is communication?

Communication is the act of exchanging or transferring information from one person, place, area or system to another in the form of verbal or non-verbal communication. 

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This means we use body language and spoken words in practice.

Through this we can form professional relationships with the people we support, carers and other professionals.

The relationship we establish is a medium through which the social worker can engage with and intervene in the complexity of an individual’s internal and external worlds.

The way we engage, listen, and deliver information is vital in our interaction with people.

As a result, communication skills form the foundation of social work.

Essentially, both verbal and nonverbal communication are powerful in the work that we do.

The Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) social work domains and the Knowledge and Skills Statement (KSS) for social workers highlight the need to communicate and engage effectively with the people we support.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) also identifies how communication skills affect the assessments we carry out as social workers.

19 Simple Ways to Improve Your Body Language Now

body language in non verbal communicationWe use communication skills every time we meet people.

When two people meet, communication unavoidably occurs.

Even when you walk into a room and others ignore you, that action alone will affect what you do next.

Their next response will also influence your reaction.

Communication cannot be helped, and most messages we pass on to other people are non-verbal!

"The world is full of talkers, but it is rare to find anyone who listens. And I assure you that you can pick up more information when you are listening than when you are talking."

In this quote, the importance of communication in social work has been highlighted, however, the power of non-verbal communication has also been made very clear.

In this article, I will explore how to transform your non-verbal communication (body language) easily so it affects the relationship you build with others positively.

Having a positive effect on others will create positive vibrations and they will feel empowered.

So, lets dive into this now…

What is non-verbal communication?

non verbal communicationNon-verbal communication involves the use of body language, gestures and tone of voice.

You can speak volumes with your non-verbal communication, and this can affect negatively or positively on your relationship with others.

In fact, our body language can affect the way we feel.

By transforming our body language, we can change our inner state. To transform our body language, we first need to understand how our body works.

  • Observe how you use your hands, legs and eyes. Watch how other well-known celebrities or influencers use body language to communicate with their audience. You will learn great tips and skills.
  • Ask a friend or family member to give you an honest view on what message they think your body language conveys.

1. Smile

non-verbal communicationMother Teresa once said “peace begins with a smile”.

More smiling, bring less worrying, you feel more blessed and less stressed!

A study by Simone Schnall and David Laird highlighted that if you fake a smile, you can trick your brain into releasing happy hormones because it thinks you are happy.

These happy hormones are infectious and will make someone feel cheerful.

Sometimes, smiling for no reason may not make sense at all, however, I am sure you can find a reason to smile!

That is why I recommend incorporating a gratitude journal in your morning routine.

Check out this article on How to Transform Your Day | Miracle Morning Routine.

Reflecting on what you are grateful for first thing in the morning will give you lots of reasons to smile during the day!

2. Do not slump your head down

Slumping your head down, looking grim makes you appear depressed.

According to research, slumping your head is bad for your health.

It makes the neck muscles tighten and causes tension–type headache.

The message you convey when you have your head slumped is that of feeling bored and uninterested.

It can also trigger a defence response from the person you are communicating with.

Also remember to keep your shoulders back, relaxed, and sit up straight.

Not only will this have a positive long-term effect on your health, but you will also make the person you are communicating with feel more comfortable.

3. Do not cross your arms or legs

body language in social workHave you ever had a conversation with someone who has their arms and legs crossed? How did that make you feel?

It conveys defensiveness and being guarded.

Keeping your arms and legs uncrossed shows a feeling of warmth and makes the person you are communicating with feel welcome.

In my experience, uncrossing arms and legs during discussions with people I support encourages conversations which are sincere.

4. Do not stare but maintain eye contact

Some people get it wrong and stare instead of maintaining good eye contact.

Looking vacantly at someone continuously and with amazement is staring and makes the person feel uncomfortable.

I have been starred at a few times and it made me wonder…. What the hell have I done wrong!

Instead, maintain eye contact intermittently during a conversation and do not get distracted by what’s going on around you.

5. Use the space around you

communication in social workSometimes you may find yourself in an environment where you don’t feel too conformable and prefer to sit in a small corner.

Guess what, it makes the other person feel uncomfortable!

If the area is cluttered, you can ask to clear up the area quickly so you have space to write and have conversations easily.

It will also signal self-confidence and the fact that you are comfortable in your own skin.

6. Use the power of a nod

Nodding while you have a conversation signals effective listening. It shows encouragement, understanding, and that you want to hear more.

On the other hand, nodding too much may show that you are actually not listening and that your mind has drifted.

Remember to use verbal communication intermittently if you use this form of non-verbal communication.

7. Do not lean too much

social work communication skillsLeaning forwards shows that you are interested in what the person is saying, but be mindful that too much of it will appear too intrusive.

8. Laugh when something is funny

Laugh when someone says something funny. Remember that “when you’ve learned to laugh at the things that should be laughed at, and not to laugh at those that shouldn’t, you’ve got wisdom and understanding–L.M. Montgomery.

9. Don’t touch your face

communication skills in social workMore especially with lots of viruses going around, you do not want to be touching your face.

It makes you appear distracted, nervous and less confident.

10. Walk with your head up

When walking, make sure your posture is straight. Suck in your stomach, take brief steps and keep your chin up.

Step from heel to toe to maintain a steady heel-to-toe gait.

This means you strike the ground with your heel first, then roll through your heel to your toe, and push out the step with your toe.

Walking with your head up shows confidence and the person you are supporting or having a conversation with will have confidence in your abilities.

11. Use hand gestures when needed

hand gestures in social workDo not fidget but use your hands to help you describe something.

Keep these under control, as it is not always necessary to use your hands in conversations.

Observe your environment so you do not knock things down with your hand movements (trust me, it happens).

12. Don’t chew gum

It can appear rude when speaking to someone during a professional conversation while chewing gum.

In most cases, it signals the fact that you are not interested in the conversation and makes you look unprofessional.

13. Do not munch

communicating in social workWhile you may have the freedom to eat anything, munching on crisps, fruits or chocolates during a meeting or conversation with the person is unprofessional.

It shows a lack of focus and can appear as attention seeking.

Focus should be on the person you are having the conversation with, and all distractions should be removed.

14. Do not appear sleepy

Appearing sleepy will show tiredness and lack of concentration.

That is why self-love and self-care is important to ensure that your body has had the needed rest before you start your day.

Check out this interesting article on self-love.

Having a sleepy conscience will prevent you from having a decent conversation with others.

15. Be happy

Communication strategies in social workAmy Cuddy, a social psychologist, has done extensive work on body language and states that body language can not only affect how others see us but also how we see ourselves.

‘I am’ affirmations can help you believe in your abilities, stay positive and happy. 

Check out this article on 3 Powerful Tips for Writing Affirmations.

If everything else fails, remember to ‘fake it until you make it’ has been proven many times!.

Believe you are a cheerful person to ooze a positive body language and if not, pretend you are.

16. Wear warm colour clothing

Wearing warm coloured or brighter coloured clothes such as white, beige and orange signal a feeling of happiness and hope.

Seeing warm colours produces happy hormones, which makes us feel better.

The clothes you wear will speak volumes about you, and this will affect the person you are communicating with.

So, from today, inspire positive energy by choosing the colours of your clothes, intending to make someone happy.

17. Observe

social work observation skillsObserve the person you are communicating with not with binoculars though :).

Taking notice of how others feel by observing their body language can help you adjust yours accordingly.

For example, observing the facial expression of people can signal the need for you to review your own gestures and unspoken words.

18. Do not fidget with your hair

Fidgeting with your hair shows a lack of interest in what the person is talking about.

It may also send the message that you cannot wait to end that conversation!

19. Do not fidget with your phone

Keep your phone away in your bag or pocket so you can focus on the conversation.

Fidgeting with your phone signals a lack of interest and focus!

Visualise

Visualising confidence and how you will use your body language prior to a meeting or an assessment is a useful way to help you feel confident and relaxed. Try it!

Conclusion

The more you practice the right body language, you will gradually become confident and get closer to making yourself feel genuinely happy, which will pass on positive vibrations to others.

Remember to be conscious of your body language at all times.

It’s your turn!

What’s the one body language tip you will try today? Let me know in the comments.

19 Simple Ways to Improve Your Body Language Now

  1. Smile
  2. Do not slump your head down
  3. Do not cross your arms or legs
  4. Do not stare but maintain eye contact
  5. Use the space around you
  6. Use the power of a nod
  7. Do not lean too much
  8. Laugh when something is funny
  9. Don’t touch your face
  10. Walk with your head up
  11. Use hand gestures when needed
  12. Don’t chew gum
  13. Do not munch
  14. Do not appear sleepy
  15. Be happy
  16. Wear warm colour clothing
  17. Observe
  18. Do not fidget with your hair
  19. Do not fidget with your phone 

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Simple ways to improving body language

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8 comments

Amy Smith August 22, 2020 - 1:08 pm

A really great article about being more conscious of your body language. theres so much to take away from this, like smiling and being able to trick your brain your feeling happy by faking a smile. I’m definitely going to try this! I never cross my arms by I do cross my legs all the time so I’m going to try not to do this.
I also love the saying fake it til you make it! I have come across this before and I think its a great philosophy to follow.
Excellent article, looking forward to the next one!

Reply
socialworkhaven August 25, 2020 - 8:00 pm

Thanks Amy, you are an inspiration!

Reply
Bob August 22, 2020 - 2:50 pm

Wow, your suggestions are simple and to the point. I need to use more of them and I especially like your suggestion on nodding to keep the other person involved. Thanks so much for the article. Bob

Reply
socialworkhaven August 25, 2020 - 8:00 pm

You are welcome Bob 🙂

Reply
Justin August 22, 2020 - 3:18 pm

These are some great tips for improving body language. I need to work on avoiding folding and crossing my arms. I tend to cross my arms because it relieves back pain but it does make me look defensive. The art of listening is something our society has forgotten. I learned how to listen when I worked in customer service and sales and it is so important if you want to help people. People will talk and tell you everything that is going on in their lives if you stop and listen. And always put away your phone! Thanks for sharing this informative article!

Reply
socialworkhaven August 25, 2020 - 7:56 pm

Thanks for stopping by Justin 🙂

Reply
Ivan August 23, 2020 - 5:38 pm

Great tips here! Sometimes body language is more important than what we say. Body language is even stronger than words. Thanks for sharing how to improve this form of communication.

Reply
socialworkhaven August 25, 2020 - 7:55 pm

Body language can send stronger signals than spoken words Ivan. I completely agree with you.

Reply

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