Do you ever notice how much you can tell about someone just by the way they walk into a room? How they hold their body, how fast or slow their steps are if they are making eye contact or avoiding it… all this information is communicated in an instant without a single word.
Our body language is continually communicating information about us to others whether we are conscious of it or not. If you aren’t mindful and intentional with your body language, you might be undermining your ability to talk true and create healthy boundaries.
In this episode, I’m teaching you how to become more aware of your own body language, how to uplevel your emotional + physical attunement and use what your body is broadcasting to support rather than sabotage your boundaries!
Body language is your physical behavior, mannerisms, posture, facial expressions, and even the way in which you take up space. It’s how your body reacts in any circumstance in a non-verbal way. It can be intentional or unintentional and the body can sometimes reveal your true feelings.
After more than 2 decades as a psychotherapist, when I’m in a session with a client, I’m not only listening to what they are saying, I’m also reading their body language and facial expressions. And on my end, I’m an active listener, not only with my ears and my mind but also with my body.
I’m nodding my head, I have a positive expression on my face, I’m making eye contact and my posture is open and welcoming. I am intentionally conveying interest, caring, and compassion to my client. This isn’t an “act” or something I’m putting on. It is a conscious choice for me to use all methods of communication to create a safe and comfortable experience for the other person.
Can you imagine if my mind was interested, but I was leaning back with my arms crossed or taking notes or (God forbid) checking my phone while I was with a client? My body language would be betraying my truth.
Is there anywhere this might be happening in your own life?
When it comes to setting boundaries and communicating effectively, bringing awareness and mindfulness to our body language is important.
Especially when we are in the process of learning how to communicate our boundaries, we might feel a lot of anxiety or fear to set a limit or ask for what we want or need. Even when we know we need to draw a boundary and actually manage to say the words– if our body language is very small or non-committal, we could be sending mixed signals.
We want to be sure our intention, our words, and our bodies are in alignment with what we are communicating. We want to be aware that even if we aren’t saying a word, our physicality is still saying a lot.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone where their actions and their words are not aligned – they say one thing, but do another?
The same thing can happen with words and body language, and it’s worth it to pay attention to physical cues and how they line up with what someone is saying.
When you begin to tune into other people’s full expression, it can be a window into their emotional state, their true feelings, and whether or not they are trustworthy. Of course, you must always take into consideration other people’s conditions, experiences, mental health diagnoses, and other challenges which might prevent them from making eye contact or being attuned to social cues.
I want to help you improve your understanding of what you’re communicating with your body language so you are not sabotaging your desires or the limits you are trying to set.
Think about what your body does when you are listening to someone. How do you look at them? How do you move? How do you react? All of those things are communicating something to the other person. Do you lean forward when you are interested?
Body language can reinforce or contradict what you’re saying, so you want to be mindful of what you are conveying with all of your non-verbal cues in your interactions.
Think through your gestures, level of eye contact, facial expressions, how much space you put between yourself and others, your posture, and moments of physical touch.
A look can communicate so many different things – affection, frustration, hostility, admiration, love…the list goes on! Practice being more aware of what your body is doing and ask yourself if it matches what you are trying to communicate verbally.
It’s important to note that body language shouldn’t replace real, verbal communication. When it comes to communication, there are really only 2 ways to do it: effectively or ineffectively. Effective communication is directly saying words that represent how you honestly feel. Ineffective communication is indirect and can include passive-aggressive body language, like rolling your eyes, slamming a cabinet door too hard, or a heavy sigh to express displeasure. Doing this INSTEAD of expressing yourself directly isn’t helping you get your needs met.
So how can you use body language to your advantage when you are setting a boundary? Here’s an example of using your body to communicate effectively:
You run into the grocery store and you see that chatty neighbor you know you don’t have time to talk to right now. Lead with your body language. You can still say something nice like, “Oh hey, Bob, enjoy this beautiful weather!” but (and here’s the key) KEEP MOVING as you’re saying it.
Nothing says “I’m not stopping to chat” like NOT stopping to chat. Am I right? Let your body language speak loud and clear.
Here are some examples of how you can pair body language WITH direct communication to set boundaries:
If someone is interrupting you, you can use the physical cue of putting your hand or index finger up and then saying,
“Hey, can you hold on and let me finish, and then I’m all ears for your story?”
Let’s say almost every morning you have a coworker who is ready to talk your ear off, and you’re just not into it. You could show a lack of interest by looking down, turning your body away, and saying something like,
“Mornings are my most productive time, so I really need to get back to it.”
You can deliver these in a kind, respectful way. Speaking up for yourself while communicating genuine confidence with your body language can begin to teach the people in your life what is and what is not OK with you. It can be incredibly empowering.
Inside this week’s guide, I’m giving you clear steps you can take to use your body language to support your beautiful boundaries! There’s a body language assessment plus tools to help you get your physical expressions more aligned with your truth!
Knowledge is power, people! When you become really mindful and more attuned, you will have the power to use body language for good in your own life, rather than sabotaging your boundaries, because you are acting out unconscious fears.
I am cheering you on as you get your body into alignment with the kind of life you want to create!!! You can do this!
I hope that this episode added value, please drop me comments here and connect with me over on Instagram @terricole, and let’s keep the conversation going!
I can’t wait to see what you discover about yourself and the people in your life, and as always take care of you.