5 Body Language Habits For Assertive Communication

According to research, face-to-face conversation is comprised of only seven percent words, 38 percent voice/tone, and the other 55 percent body language. Despite being a majority of conversations, body language is something that not a lot of people know how to do properly when they want to convey an assertive message.

It can be easy to slump around and stare at the ceiling when someone is talking, especially in this age when more and more conversations are held online. It’s important to remember how to learn body language habits, though, especially for assertive communication. Here are five tips on how to do just that.

Posture Check

Whether you’re sitting down or standing up, you’ll want to make sure that your posture is in order for assertive communication. It can be easy to slump, slouch, or place your head into your hand or resting on your fist, but these should all be avoided. Doing that makes you look aloof and unattentive, while also more passive and easier to take advantage of in a discussion or negotiation.

When sitting, make sure that you’re sitting with your back perfectly straight and your chin up. If you’re standing, check that you’re standing up straight and that your feet are firmly on the ground. We all know that our backs are the biggest part of our posture, but our legs are just as important. Try not to rest your feet on something (think of the Captain Morgan pirate logo, it’s best to avoid that).

Watch Where You’re Looking

Being very aware of your posture is actually one of the easiest things to do once you’re thinking about it, but making and keeping eye contact can be one of the more difficult aspects of assertive communication. Even if you remind yourself, again and again, to maintain eye contact throughout a conversation, you can find it intimidating or become restless and have your eyes wander away from the person you’re speaking to.

One of the tricks is to start making eye contact before the conversation even begins. You also don’t have to keep eye contact for 100 percent of the time, either. Maintaining eye contact for about half of the conversation is a good baseline to have, and will also make the person you’re speaking to more comfortable when you aren’t staring through their soul. If you’re making gestures throughout the conversation, it’s easier to maintain eye contact, and that leads us to our next point.

Active Listening and Speaking

So far we’ve figured out the posture and eye contact, but if you sit up perfectly straight and stare at the person you’re speaking to, then it’s going to come off as extremely weird. Making sure that you’re moving throughout the conversation and exhibiting gestures is a great way to show active listening while making the other person more comfortable. Keep an expressive face and smile at the right times while nodding when agreeing.

Things you should avoid include tapping your fingers on your table, fidgeting around, frowning, or really anything that you can think of that would make the other person believe that you don’t care what they have to say. Again, nodding is one of the best things that you can do for active listening, but make sure that you’re nodding at something you agree with instead of every sentence.

Setting The Right Tone

We’ve now learned what it takes to be a good listener for assertive communication, but now it’s time to start doing the talking. Speaking is one of the more difficult parts, and you have to show confidence when you’re speaking or else it’s going to be passive communication. If you have to, practice speaking in the mirror or with people that you’re more confident around. Speak clearly and at a volume that can certainly be heard, as having to repeat yourself can derail any assertive communication in a hurry.

One of the hardest things to do is to get rid of the dead-air fillers in your speech like the “um” or “so” that we all do, but ironing those out is paramount. You also want to have a tone of voice that isn’t just shouting, as that can be seen as aggressive. Show some inflection and interest when you’re speaking, and that assertiveness will come through in your speech.

Where Is Your Body?

Once we’ve combined all of the good body language habits for assertive communication, there’s just one more minor detail that you’ll need to be aware of, and it’s what your body is doing during a conversation. You don’t have to constantly keep walking during the conversation, but your orientation will be important.

Always have your body faced toward the person that’s speaking, as it shows that your entire attention is directed to them. You can appear passive-aggressive when you turn away from the speaker, and completely passive when your body language is closed off. Stay standing (or sitting) up straight and your shoulders facing the person you’re speaking to, and everything will be just fine.

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