Saturday, July 25, 2009

Body Language

People are either communicating an openness and receptiveness with what is happening or are closing themselves off. Watch what other people are saying with their bodies and what you are telling them with yours. If words and body language clash, what the body is saying will be believed. Use appropriate body language to create credibility and congruence.

Negative Messages
• Fold arms and cross legs to reject what you hear.
• Lean back, doodle or look at the ceiling to show boredom.
• Sit back and join your fingers like a church steeple to show indifference.
• Slump to convey uncertainty and uneasiness.
• Slouch and walk slowly to show reluctance and lack of enthusiasm.

Positive Messages
• Open hands and postures to signal acceptance.
• Lean forward to show active involvement with what you are saying.
• Tilt the head to one side and nod occasionally to show understanding.
• Relax the face and smile to show acceptance and agreement.
• Sit or stand with an upright, but relaxed posture to show command and certainty.
• Walk with a quick gait and swing your arms to show confidence and enthusiasm.
• Stand and sit with an erect, yet comfortable and relaxed posture to communicate openness and a readiness to talk or listen.

Appropriate Eye contact
Eye contact can be tricky. Looking directly into someone’s eyes can be seen as hostile and even rude in some cultures. However, avoiding contact indicates sneakiness and the need to avoid disclosure. The solution is “soft eye contact.” Look at the person’s cheek, forehead, nose, chin or mouth. They think that you are looking directly at them but you avoid direct eye contact.

When addressing a group, regularly look around the room and make eye contact with someone for a few moments, then move on. Use short, frequent glances, but don’t stare. Everyone will think you are paying attention to them and you will seem to be in control of the room.
No Touch
Except for the handshake, avoid touching, which can misunderstood.

If you are summoned for jury duty, how do you communicate you don’t want to be there with just your body language? How do you communicate you want to be there with just your body language?

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