Reading People: Body Language Briefing
Body language is the meaning behind the words or the"unspoken" language. Surprisingly, studies show that onlyup to an estimated 10 percent of our communication isverbal.
The majority of the rest of communication isunspoken. This unspoken language isn't rocket science.However, there are some generalizations or basicinterpretations that can be applied to help with theunderstanding or translating of these unspoken meanings.Here are some basics below.
People like warm smiles. Think of a heartfelt warm-fussy, maybe your favorite pet, and smile.
If you don't look someone in the eyes while speaking, this can be interpreted as dishonesty or hiding something. Likewise, shifting eye movement or rapid changing of focus/direction can translate similarly.
If more than one person is present in a group,look each person in the eye as you speak, slowly turning toface the next person and acknowledge him or her with eyecontact as well. Continue on so that each person has feltyour warm, trusting glance. Some suggest beginning with oneperson and moving clockwise around the group so that no oneis missed, and so that you are not darting around,seemingly glaring at people.
3. Attention Span / Attitude
Other people can tell what type attitude you have by yourattention span. If you quickly lose focus of the otherperson and what is being said, and if your attention spanwanders, this shows through and makes you seemdisinterested, bored, possibly even uncaring.
4. Attention Direction
If you sit or stand so that you are blockinganother in the party, say someone is behind you, this canbe interpreted as rude or thoughtless. So be sure to turnso that everyone is included in the conversation or angleof view, or turn gently, at ease and slowly, while talking,so that everyone is incorporated, recognized and involvedin the conversation. Again some suggest the clockwisemovement when working a group.
5. Arms Folded / Legs Crossed
This can be seen as defensive or an end to theconversation. So have arms hang freely or hold a glass ofwater, a business card or note taking instruments whilecommunicating with others. Be open with open arms. Note: Ifyou need to cross legs, cross at your ankles and not yourknees. Sitting tightly folded up says that you are closedto communications.
6. Head Shaking
If people are shaking their heads while you speak, they arein agreement. If they are shaking, "no," disagreementreigns in their minds.
7. Space / Distance -
On the whole, people like their own personal body space. Give people room and keep out of their space. Entering to close can beintrusive and viewed as aggressive. Leaning - Sitting orstanding, leaning is viewed as interest. In other words, aninterested listener leans toward the speaker. Note others'body language - While you are with others, note how theirbodies read. If a person suddenly folds his arms across hischest and begins shaking his head "no," you've probablylost him. Might try taking a step back and picking up wherethe conversation began this turn for the negative andregroup. It's all about strategic planning!
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