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Body Language: Picking Up and Understanding Nonverbal Signals

Body Language

Is the unspoken element of communication that we use to reveal our true feelings and emotions - gestures, facial expressions and posture.

When we are able to "read" these signs, we can use it to our advantage. 

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Body Language: Picking Up and Understanding Nonverbal Signals

Body Language: Picking Up and Understanding Nonverbal Signals

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/Body_Language.htm

mindtools.com

6

Key Ideas

Body Language

Is the unspoken element of communication that we use to reveal our true feelings and emotions - gestures, facial expressions and posture.

When we are able to "read" these signs, we can use it to our advantage. 

Disinterested interlocutors

Signs of a disengaged, disinterested or unhappy audience:

  • Arms folded in front of the body.
  • Minimal or tense facial expression.
  • Body turned away from you.
  • Eyes downcast, maintaining little contact.

Being aware of these signs can help you to adjust what you say and how you say it, so you can make him feel more at ease and receptive to your viewpoint

Unengaged Audiences

Some signs that people may be bored or disinterested in what you're saying:

  • Sitting slumped, with heads downcast.
  • Gazing at something else, or into space.
  • Fidgeting, picking at clothes, or fiddling with pens and phones.
  • Writing or doodling.

When you notice that, you can re-engage people by asking a direct question, or by inviting people to contribute an idea.

Making a Confident First Impression

  • Have an open posture. Be relaxed, sit or stand upright and place your hands by your sides. 
  • Use a firm handshake. But don't get carried away - you'll likely come across as rude or aggressive.
  • Maintain good eye contact. Try to hold the other person's gaze for a few seconds at a time. 
  • Avoid touching your face. There's a common perception that people who touch their faces while answering questions are being dishonest.

Positive body language in public speaking

  • Have a positive posture. Sit or stand upright, with your shoulders back and your arms unfolded and at your sides or in front of you.
  • Keep your head up. Your head should be upright and level.
  • Practice and perfect your posture. Stand in a relaxed manner, with your weight evenly distributed.
  • Use open hand gestures. Spread your hands apart, in front of you, with your palms facing slightly toward your audience. This indicates a willingness to communicate and to share ideas.

Interviews and Negotiations

  • Use mirroring. Subtly mirror the body language of the person you're talking to. This will make him feel more at ease. But don't copy every gesture.
  • Maintain the appearance of calm by keeping your hands still, and by avoiding fidgeting with your hair or touching your face.
  • Look interested. Touching your face or mouth can signal dishonesty. But, it can also demonstrate that you're thinking.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Eye signals
  • Eye gaze: Directly eye contact indicates interest and paying attention. Prolonged eye contact can feel threatening.
  • Blinking:  People often blink more rapidly when t...
Lip signals
  • Pursed lips: an indicator of distaste, disapproval, or distrust.
  • Lip biting: signals people are worried, anxious, or stressed.
  • Covering the mouth: used when people want to hide an emotional reaction.
  • Turned up or down: When the mouth is slightly turned up, it might mean that the person is feeling happy or optimistic. A slightly down-turned mouth can be an indicator of sadness/ disapproval.
Gestures
  • A clenched fist indicates anger in some situations or solidarity in others.
  • A thumbs up and thumbs down: gestures of approval and disapproval.
  • The "okay" gesture: "okay" or "all right." In some parts of Europe, the same signal is used to imply you are nothing. In some South American countries, the symbol is actually a vulgar gesture.
  • The V sign: peace or victory in some countries. In the UK and Australia, the symbol takes on an offensive meaning when the back of the hand is facing outward.

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Looking Friendly
  • Smile. It is even more important than you think. It's a great way to create trust. We judge people to be more pleasant when we are smiling.
  • Expand. Body movements th...
Being More Influential

The best body language for influence depends on your goal. Make sure your body language matches your words to make you more effective.

  • If you want to increase the attractiveness of an offer, think sales-y. Use animated movements. Lean forward. Move and speak quickly.
  • If you want to reduce resistance to what you're saying, think calm and authoritative. Specific gestures. Lean back. Move and speak slowly. 
Looking Like A Leader

It is important to balance the appearance of authority and warmth.

  • You show authority and power by your upright posture, your command of physical space, purposeful stride, a firm handshake, and palm-down gestures.
  • You communicate warmth nonverbally with open body postures, palm-up hand gestures, full-frontal body orientation, positive eye contact, synchronized movements, nods, head tilts, and smiles.

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Prep with a power pose

2 minutes of power posing - standing tall, holding your arms out or toward the sky, or standing like Superman, with your hands on hips - will dramatically increase your confidence.

Try...

When the going gets tough, start smiling

Frowning, grimacing, glowering, and other negative facial expressions send a signal to your brain that whatever you're doing is difficult. That causes your brain to send cortisol into your bloodstream, which raises your stress levels. Instead, force yourself to smile. It works.

If you're confronted...

...don't back away; just shift to a slight angle - so you're standing at an angle--much like models who almost never stand with their bodies square to the camera.

And if you wish to appear less confrontational, approach the person and stand at a 45-degree angle (while still making direct eye contact, of course).

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Misunderstanding body language

Contrary to popular belief, body language in the context of public speaking is more than hand and arm gesture.

It means adjusting the way we stand, move and smile to capture and hold the atte...

What puts an audience off
  • We indicate that we are feeling threatened when we take a step back or we show any sign of a closed body language.
  • Crossing our arms also shows nervousness and it puts our audience in a defensive mode.
  • Your end up showing that you feel superior to the rest of the room if you tilt your head backward.
Match your gestures to your message

Match your gestures to your words.
We are visual creatures, and any movement used in the right way in this direction will spark the attention of your audience. Just try not to abuse this rule.

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Common errors when reading people
  • Ignoring context: Crossed arms don’t mean much if the room is cold or the chair they’re sitting in doesn’t have armrests. 
  • Not looking for clusters: It’s a consisten...
Trusting your instincts

Your first impressions are usually pretty accurate. But whether they are wrong or right, first impressions affect us in a big way and we are slow to change them.

You have to be willing to update them quite rapidly. 

Reading first impressions
  • Studies show that if someone seems extroverted, confident, religious or conscientious, they probably are.
  • We all pay more attention to pretty people, and so we tend to take the time to evaluate them.
  • If you want to know if someone is good at their job, watch them do it for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Funny people are smart: Effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans.

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Thin-Slicing
Studies have found that we not only decide if we like someone in the first few seconds, but also that the first impression stays with us.

Thin-slicing is when we take a mental snapshot of someone...

Self-Evaluation

Choose ONE word from this list of adjectives or pick your own to fill in the blank. When people first meet me, they think I am_____

  • Charismatic or boring
  • Outgoing or shy
  • Kind or judgmental
  • Intelligent or weird
  • Open or closed
  • Powerful or weak
  • Engaging or odd
  • Professional or casual

Did you pick a positive word? Or a negative word? You have to know where you stand now to move to where you want to be.

Ideal Firsts
How can you ensure people are judging you accurately and also seeing your best side? 

The most important thing to do for giving a good impression is to set your intention. Right now pick your ideal first impression word. When people first meet me, I want them to see me as_______.

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Turn Up Your Palms

Whenever you're doing something that does not require use of your hands, turn them so that they're palm-side up. You also can do it while standing or walking, leaving your arms down at your sides a...

Challenges To Listening
  • We have many things screaming for our attention every minute of the day and we often trick ourselves into believing they’re more important than a conversation unfolding right in front o...
The Importance Of Proper Listening

With proper listening you’ll have a crystal clear understanding of the conversation and demonstrate to speakers that you’re invested in what they have to say.

Being a good listener is one of the most potent things you can do to increase your influence and likeability. It is also one of the top skills employers seek in potential and current employees, and it’s correlated with perceived ability to lead.

How To Be A Better Listener
  1. Push other activities from your mind, and be present in the discussion. This tells the other person that you’re ready for the conversation.
  2. Keep a neutral expression that simply says, “I’m listening.” We tend to physically react to what we hear and it disrupts our ability to listen and the other person’s ability to be heard. 
  3. Offer uninterrupted speaking time. Well-intended or not, interruptions makes effective communication impossible. 
  4. Repeat back succinctly and ask validating questions to make sure you heard the speaker correctly.
Playing it safe: a silent killer

The dangers of playing it safe appear so gradually that they rarely get noticed.

It is like a slow leak in a tire, you only notice it when you are stuck. You don't have an idea of how it h...

Hanging onto old ideas

People try desperately to hang on to antiquated ways of doing business because of a false sense of security. They believe that they can maintain their old ideas indefinitely, even if all evidence shows the contrary.

Question everything

Questioning everything could help you to spot problems and create a culture of understanding and action.

What does this business look like in five years?  What are our customers worrying about today? What will concern them tomorrow? Where are we failing to communicate? Are we capitalizing on all our strengths? What opportunities are we missing?

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