Communicating effectively means more than knowing what to say and when to say it. Communication involves the subtle signals your body language sends to those listening. Over half of the information you provide as you connect with others comes from your body language. Some body language provides positive information and some negative information. Positive bodylanguage says, “I am interested in what you are saying.” Negative body language says, “I don’t believe anything you are saying – and I am bored besides!”
Here are some common body actions and the impressions they create:
- Fiddling – Playing with your watch or a pen looks like you’re bored or impatient.
- Clock watching – It looks like you’re anxious to move on to something else.
- Tapping – Tapping your foot or fingers suggests you are impatient or nervous. Drumming your fingers, scratching, twitching, and darting eyes around room all discredit what you are saying and your image as a person good to know.
- Staring – An unblinking stare conveys boredom. Blink normally and nod your head to show agreement, and that you are still alive and not bored to death.
- Body hunched – Closing up your body profile —becoming smaller— looks like you lack confidence. Stand tall and believe what you are saying.
- Arms crossed – If you keep your arms folded during communication, you appear to be defending yourself against the others. Keep your posture open, except your legs. Crossed at the knee or ankle is O.K. (Depends a lot on the culture. For example, in Thailand don’t cross your legs and point your toes at anyone!)
- Hiding your hands – Evasive people with secrets don’t show their hands.
- Touching your face – When you have your hand in front of your mouth, you appear timid. Rubbing nose, eyes, ears, head, or neck shows doubt in what you are saying or hearing.
- No eye contact – If you won’t look the other speaker in the eye, you seem to have low interest or a lack of confidence. (Don’t forget staring, above.)
How you say things in communication is just as important as what you say. Watch your body language and control the unconscious message you might be sending.