The most powerful communications can be the non-verbal ones.
Your body language can be more truthful than your words. People get your confidence or your nervousness, just by the way your hold your body. Your body language says what you are really thinking or feeling.
On an interview, a negotiation, or in a meeting, here are a few of the basic body language moves that can make your communications more effective and give you an edge.
Understanding other people’s signals can help you change your strategy during a meeting.
Are they saying they agree, but you can see they are resistant? Stop and ask them if they want to review something or be clearer about it. They’ll think you are reading their minds!
You only have a few seconds to make a first impression. It will set the tone for your interview or meeting. Are you negotiating your salary? Don’t you want the other person to feel your confidence?
Body language showing confidence:
- Stand or sit up straight
- Make eye contact
- Don’t fidget or play with your hair
- Make your gestures direct, such as putting out your hand immediately while looking them in the eye.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Millennials often speak so fast people can’t understand them! Don’t be one of those.
How you know they aren’t listening
It’s important to recognize the body language of someone who is not hearing you or being defensive. Good to know in personal relationships too!
Signs people aren’t listening are:
- Crossed arms
- Hand and arm movements that stay close to their body
- Little or no eye contact
- They are turned away from you
- Little facial expression
Let your own body show that you are open and receptive. That can help. You can also ask if there is something bothering them, and start over. It can open them up and let them know you hear them too.
I’m thinking this over
In a negotiation, you may be surprised by a question you don’t have the answer to. Instead of blurting something out, take a few moments to think. Showing the other person the question is important enough is a positive move. You don’;t always have to fill silence.
Body language that shows you are thinking:
- Look downward or upward
- Make eye contact again when you are ready to answer
- Touch your chin
- Put a hand on your cheek
This is a big one. Many lawyers know this, and it can be handy in any life or work situation.
Signs someone is lying:
- Breathing rate increases
- They start sweating
- Their face may redden
- They don’t look you in the eye
- They put their fingers or hand in front of their mouth
- They turn their body away from you
- Their voice changes in pitch, or they stammer or clear their throat often
These signals may also be signs of nervousness, so dig deeper to see if they’re lying or not.
Want to know more? Here’s Goodreads list of popular body language books
Factor in culture
Definitely factor in another person’s culture when reading body language. It may be customary in another country to be more reserved, so learn about them before a meeting or interview.
Observe other people when you are in group meetings. Are they listening, or are they slouching with their arms crossed? Are they telling the truth? Are they confident in the viewpoint?
Now you have a heads up on what they are really thinking.
Remember, they can ready your body language too, so practice the non-verbal communication skills that can give you away or show your confidence!