Is Your Body Language Betraying You?


A lot of our communication is non verbal. Body language, mood, appearance all contribute to the way we communicate. Whether we are interviewing for a job, negotiating a contract, or counseling a friend, our body language can speak louder than our words. Over the years, I have become conscientious of my body language specially during intense, meaningful exchanges. Most people are intentional about their appearance, but I find that a lot of people are not aware of their body language. Here’s a few things to consider:

Communicating Without Words: What Your Body Language is Saying

Make eye contact. I know that sounds obvious. But I talk with people who cannot make consistent eye contact during an important conversation. That comes across to most people as a sign of  untruth, such as a hidden agenda or worse, a lie. If you can’t look me in the eye, chances are I’m not going to believe you.

Uncross your arms and legs. When you keep your arms and sometimes both arms and legs crossed your body language says, “no.” Your mouth might be agreeing verbally but your body language says “I’m not open to this idea or where this conversation is going.”

Lean towards your subject. When I want to emphasize a point or re-engage the other person deeper in the conversation, I lean towards them and make sure I make eye contact before I speak. At this point my body language says “this is very important, please listen.”

Smile. There’s nothing better than a smile to make someone feel at home. Smiling during a difficult conversation can break the tension. Smiles are particularly helpful when you disagree with someone. Saying “no” with a smile on your face lets the other person know that while you are not willing to accept their proposition, you’re not offended or upset. It keeps the dialog going.

How do you use body language to communicate?

  • Funny, I was reading with my arms crossed…

  • Thanks, Maurilio, this is so important. What people fail to realize is that your body is ALWAYS talking. Your body tends to communicate your true intent, so while I definitely agree with these practical tips that keep you aware of what you're doing, I think it's also critical to cleanse and clarify your intent while communicating.

    • Geoff, how would one "cleanse and clarify?" I'd like to hear more about it.

      • I think we cleanse our intent by admitting what's really going on inside us. For example, I'm rampantly self-absorbed most of the time. I have selfish motives. I have irrational fears. If I don't acknowledge and deal with these beasts, they're bound to come out – albeit subtly – no matter how well I use my body.

        The best way I've found to clarify my intent (and get over myself) is to focus on the other person. It's tough for me. It means ignoring my buzzing cellphone and personal agenda and that constant urge to think about what witty thing I'm going to say next. But If I get through to that sacred place where I'm giving the person I'm with my absolute, wholehearted attention, my body naturally communicates it – and they feel it.

        Does that make sense?

        • Yes it does. When we genuinely focus on others everything changes.

  • The best interview advice I ever got was to smile. It might seem simple or even a no brainer, but intentionally focusing on making sure you smile will give you a sense of confidence and puts the other person at ease.

    Also, whether it's in person or on the phone. Try smiling when talking with someone providing you customer service (barista, cashier, tech support). You'd be surprised how it'll improve the end result.

    • I do that when I'm on the phone as well. I sometimes stand up during a call and smile. It makes a difference.

  • Pingback: Day 18: Dialogue | Zan Nim - one writer, many tools, lots of advice.()

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