Using and understanding body language is a useful skill in your business relationships. Words alone may not always guarantee that you will get the truth or true feelings during a conversation or situation. Our bodies do not know how to lie. Unconsciously we expose our thoughts as we fold our arms, cross our legs, stand, walk or move our eyes. Mastering body language gives you the ability to quickly and effectively “read between the lines” and interpret the silent signals revealed by others.
To use and interpret body language correctly it is important to be able to recognize and read all the signs together. Facial expressions, gestures, posture, positioning and orientation will help you to gain the most accurate insight into someone’s true feelings, attitudes or intentions. For example, having your arms crossed may not necessarily indicate displeasure or impatience if there are no other signs present; instead, it may simply indicate that the person is cold or trying to hide their stomach from view. However, when their arms are crossed, their face wears a frown and their mouth is held thin and tight, then, you may reasonably conclude that the person is genuinely displeased.
The silent signals of body language can be seen in your posture, head position, facial expression, gestures, proximity in relation to others, orientation in relation to others, mirroring, use of personal space, eye contact, and eye movement.
To Display Positive Body Language:
- Stand tall: Good posture reflects self-esteem-stand tall to portray and inspire confidence.
- Stand with your weight equally distributed on both feet. This will eliminate the appearance of being bored or fatigued.
- Avoid nervous habits, such as clearing your throat, sniffing or touching your hair constantly. These gestures can become distracting
- Walk with confidence and purpose. Keep your head up and smile.
- Look people in the eye (but not continuously), when they speak to you or you speak to them. This always communicates confidence. Maintain contact just long enough to determine their eye color.
- Keep your hands away from your face when you speak. This gives the impression that you are unsure or lying.
- Ensure your verbal and non-verbal messages are consistent to ensure people view you as trustworthy. In other words, do not say one thing and look or act another.
- Smile to invite conversations and openness. When you are listening, smile and nod your head to show you are interested in what they are saying.
- Do not lean on anything. You lose fifty percent of your authority and signal disinterest or fatigue.
- Signal interest and attentiveness via direct body and head orientations, nodding in agreement; direct eye contact, and smiling. This has been proven to result in a person being viewed as more likable.
- Sit up straight (never slouch). Sit with your feet flat on the floor with your hands relaxed or holding a pen.
- Use “open” gestures whenever possible, to relax those you are talking to and to appear open, honest and communicable.
- To create instant rapport, subtly mirror the position and gestures of those with whom you want to create a bond.
- Do not invade someone’s personal space without an explicit invitation. One arm’s distance is considered appropriate.
- Center your attention exclusively on the other person, actively listen to them.
- Lean slightly forward to show interest: a bit further forward to apply pressure: slightly back to reduce pressure.
- Respond appropriately by centering your responses on what the other person has just said.
- Relax to allow open and free communication.