Understanding (and using) body language is very important non-verbal communication skill.
Eight most important behavior and the body languages behind them:
Dominance, Power: Feet on desk, Piercing eye contact, Hands behind head or on hips, Palm-down handshake, 'Steepling' of the finger, Standing while other is seated
Confidence, Cooperation, Honesty: Leaning forward, Opening arms and palms, Maintaining great eye contact, Keeping feet flat on floor, Smiling, Moving with counterpart’s rhythm
Evaluation: Nodding , Squinting, Putting index finger to lips, Tilting head slightly, Stroking chin
Submission, Nervousness: Fidgeting, Minimum eye contact, Hands to face, hair, etc. Palm-up handshake, Throat clearing
Disagreement, Anger, Skepticism: Red skin , Finger pointing, Squinting eyes, Frowning, Turning away, Crossing arms or legs
Boredom, Lack of Interest: Avoiding eye contact, Playing with objects on desk, Staring blankly, Drumming on table, Picking at clothes, Looking at watch, door, etc.
Uncertainty, Indecision: Cleaning glasses, Looking puzzled, Putting fingers to mouth, Biting lip, Pacing back and forth, Tilting head
Suspicion, Dishonesty: Touching nose while speaking, Covering mouth, Avoiding eye contact, Moving away, Crossing arms or legs
(Source: Adapted from a guide by Peter Barron Stark & Associates)
Examples of body language:
Nonverbal behavior: Interpretation
Brisk, erect walk: Confidence
Standing with hands on hips: Readiness, aggression
Sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly: Boredom
Sitting, legs apart: Open, relaxed
Arms crossed on chest: Defensiveness
Walking with hands in pockets, shoulders hunched: Dejection
Hand to cheek: Evaluation, thinking
Touching, slightly rubbing nose: Rejection, doubt, lying
Rubbing the eye: Doubt, disbelief
Hands clasped behind back: Anger, frustration, apprehension
Locked ankles: Apprehension
Head resting in hand, eyes downcast: Boredom
Rubbing hands: Anticipation
Sitting with hands clasped behind head, legs crossed: Confidence, superiority
Open palm: Sincerity, openness, innocence
Pinching bridge of nose, eyes closed: Negative evaluation
Tapping or drumming fingers: Impatience
Steepling fingers: Authoritative
Patting/fondling hair: Lack of self-confidence; insecurity
Tilted head: Interest
Stroking chin: Trying to make a decision
Looking down, face turned away: Disbelief
Biting nails: Insecurity, nervousness
Pulling or tugging at ear: Indecision
No eye contact: Lying
Hands touching their face, throat & mouth: Lying
A person may look at you for slightly longer than normal, then look away, then look back up at you, again for a longer period: Romantic interest?
Leaning your body towards another person: Showing interest
Body Language Do's and Dont's
Don't do this: Taking your eyes off of listeners.
Do this: Keeping your eyes on your audience most of the time.
Don't do this: When not using them - Keeping your hands in your pockets or clasped together makes you seem stiff, stilted, and formal. It makes you look insecure.
Do this: Engage both hands above the waist, or both hands on your hip make you look confident.
Don't do this: Slouching, leaning back, or being hunched over. It betrays a lack of confidence, or interest.
Do this: Keep your head up and back straight. Lean forward when seated. When you sit toward the front of your chair and lean forward slightly, you will come off as interested, engaged, and enthusiastic.
Don't do this: Putting something between you and your listener(s) - Crossing your arms, standing behind a podium, standing behind a chair, and talking to someone from behind a computer monitor are all examples of blocking.
Do this: Staying 'open.' Keep your hands apart and your palms up, pointed toward the ceiling. Remove physical barriers between you and your listeners.
Don't do this: Standing or sitting perfectly still - Ineffective speakers barely move, staying in one spot during a presentation.
Do this: Get up and move. If your role demands it, move around. Good presenters mingle with the audience.
Thank you for reading.
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