Updated 25 September 2019

Understanding Body Language

Have you ever watched a couple sitting in a restaurant and within minutes you have a sense of how good or bad their relationship is?

Did you ever think how you were able to come to this conclusion so quickly without any direct interaction?

Our body language reveals the truth of what we hide with our words, including how we really feel about ourselves, our relationships, and our situations.

Studies show that 70% of our communication is achieved non-verbally and that it is far more accurate than the words we use. Non- verbal cues trigger feelings which determine core assets of an individual such as truthfulness, sincerity, skill-level, and leadership abilities.

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Picture yourself approaching a prospective client, walking into a board meeting or arriving at a party venue. What message do you communicate when you walk into a room? What are your eyes, hands and shoulders saying? What information can people gather about you before you even say a word? Never thought about it? You should! Understanding body language can give us an advantage over those who don’t. And with a little practise, we can learn tips to show confidence so that we always appear capable and ready for any situation. Here’s how:

Have eye contact, but don’t stare. Keeping too much eye contact might creep people out. Refusing to make eye contact can suggest that you cannot be trusted. Show that you are interested in what the person in front of you has to say.

Use the triple nod. If you aren’t good at making conversation, you want to encourage the person that you are speaking with to keep talking. This is a great way of showing engagement and lengthening the discussion.

Keep your chin up. Lowering your head indicates that you don’t want to interact.

Grooming is an essential component of communicating confidence through body language. You want your hair, face and even your smell to work for you.

Smile and laugh. Relax, smile and laugh when someone says something funny. People will be a lot more inclined to listen to you if you seem to be a positive person. Don’t be the first to laugh at your own jokes, it makes you seem nervous and needy.

Stand up straight, shoulders back. This is the most important means of communicating confidence. You will be surprised at how much more confident it makes you look and feel.

Keep your hands out of your pockets. Keeping your hands out in the open shows people that you have nothing to hide and are confident.

Never cross your arms when socialising. Keeping your chest wide open shows that you are approachable to others and gives you a more open-minded attitude.

Open your hands. Gesturing with palms up indicates acceptance and welcomes the listener to a two way conversation. Stop fidgeting, this is a sure indication that you are not in control.

When you are seated, avoid jiggling your leg as this will make you appear nervous.

Don’t be afraid to take up some space. Sitting or standing with your legs a bit apart signals self-confidence and that you are comfortable in your own skin.

Use your hands confidently but don’t use them too much or it might be distracting. Don’t let your hands flail around, use them with confidence. Give a firm handshake.

Make distance work for you. Everybody gets weirded out by a close-talker. Let people have their personal space, don’t invade it.

Most people undervalue the importance of body language. Changing your body language slightly can have an amazing impact on the people around you. There should be congruency between what you say and what you do. It is not enough just to speak confidently; your body needs to show it too. With a little practise, understanding body language and incorporating these tips will ensure that you always come across as confident and capable.



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