Body language is the meaning behind the words or the
"unspoken" language. Surprisingly, studies show that only
up to an estimated 10 percent of our communication is
The majority of the rest of communication is
unspoken. This unspoken language isn't rocket science.
However, there are some generalizations or basic
interpretations that can be applied to help with the
understanding or translating of these unspoken meanings.
Here are some basics below.
People like warm smiles. Think of a heartfelt warm-fussy, maybe your favorite pet, and smile.
If you don't look someone in the eyes while speaking, this can be interpreted as dishonesty or hiding something. Likewise, shifting eye movement or rapid changing of focus/direction can translate similarly.
If more than one person is present in a group,
look each person in the eye as you speak, slowly turning to
face the next person and acknowledge him or her with eye
contact as well. Continue on so that each person has felt
your warm, trusting glance. Some suggest beginning with one
person and moving clockwise around the group so that no one
is missed, and so that you are not darting around,
seemingly glaring at people.
3. Attention Span / Attitude
Other people can tell what type attitude you have by your
attention span. If you quickly lose focus of the other
person and what is being said, and if your attention span
wanders, this shows through and makes you seem
disinterested, bored, possibly even uncaring.
4. Attention Direction
If you sit or stand so that you are blocking
another in the party, say someone is behind you, this can
be interpreted as rude or thoughtless. So be sure to turn
so that everyone is included in the conversation or angle
of view, or turn gently, at ease and slowly, while talking,
so that everyone is incorporated, recognized and involved
in the conversation. Again some suggest the clockwise
movement when working a group.
5. Arms Folded / Legs Crossed
This can be seen as defensive or an end to the
conversation. So have arms hang freely or hold a glass of
water, a business card or note taking instruments while
communicating with others. Be open with open arms. Note: If
you need to cross legs, cross at your ankles and not your
knees. Sitting tightly folded up says that you are closed
6. Head Shaking
If people are shaking their heads while you speak, they are
in agreement. If they are shaking, "no," disagreement
reigns in their minds.
7. Space / Distance ?
On the whole, people like their own personal body space. Give people room and keep out of their space. Entering to close can be
intrusive and viewed as aggressive. Leaning ? Sitting or
standing, leaning is viewed as interest. In other words, an
interested listener leans toward the speaker. Note others'
body language ? While you are with others, note how their
bodies read. If a person suddenly folds his arms across his
chest and begins shaking his head "no," you've probably
lost him. Might try taking a step back and picking up where
the conversation began this turn for the negative and
regroup. It's all about strategic planning!
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