The difference between the words people speak and our understanding of what they are saying comes from non-verbal communication, otherwise known as “body language.” By developing your awareness of the signs and signals of body language, you can more easily understand other people, and more effectively communicate with them.
There are sometimes subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – movements, gestures, facial expressions and even shifts in our whole bodies that indicate something is going on. The way we talk, walk, sit and stand all say something about us, and whatever is happening on the inside can be reflected on the outside.
By becoming more aware of this body language and understanding what it might mean, you can learn to read people more easily. This puts you in a better position to communicate effectively with them. What’s more, by increasing your understanding of others, you can also become more aware of the messages that you convey to them.
There are times when we send mixed messages – we say one thing yet our body language reveals something different. This non-verbal language will affect how we act and react to others, and how they react to us.
This article will explain many of the ways in which we communicate non-verbally, so that you can use these signs and signals to communicate more effectively.
First Impressions and Confidence
Typical things to look for in confident people include:
- Posture– standing tall with shoulders back.
- Eye contact– solid with a “smiling” face.
- Gestures with hands and arms– purposeful and deliberate.
- Speech– slow and clear.
- Tone of voice– moderate to low.
Difficult Meetings and DefensivenessSome of the common signs that the person you are speaking with may be feeling defensive include:
- Hand/arm gestures are small and close to his or her body.
- Facial expressions are minimal.
- Body is physically turned away from you.
- Arms are crossed in front of body.
- Eyes maintain little contact, or are downcast.
Working With Groups and Disengagement
you can actively engage the audience when you need to if you’re alert to some of the typical signs and signals of people not being engaged. Some of these signs and signals include:
- Heads are down.
- Eyes are glazed, or gazing at something else.
- Hands may be picking at clothes, or fiddling with pens.
- People may be writing or doodling.
- They may be sitting slumped in their chairs.
Some of the typical signs and signals that a person is lying include:
- Eyes maintain little or no eye contact, or there may be rapid eye movements, with pupils constricted.
- Hand or fingers are in front of his or her mouth when speaking.
- His or her body is physically turned away from you, or there are unusual/un-natural body gestures.
- His or her breathing rate increases.
- Complexion changes such as in color; red in face or neck area.
- Perspiration increases.
- Voice changes such as change in pitch, stammering, throat clearing.
Interviews and Negotiations, and Reflection
- Eyes look away and return to engage contact only when answering.
- Finger stroking on chin.
- Hand to cheek.
Head tilted with eyes looking up.