Home   >  ZandaX Blogs   >  Development Blog   >  Communication Articles   > 
What Your Body Language Says About You

What Your Body Language Says About You

 
Improving your communication skills
Body language makes up a staggering proportion of what you are communicating. This article looks at 7 types of signals your body conveys.
 
Article author: Ashley Andrews
      Written by Ashley Andrews
       (6-minute read)
The great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said , "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say."

Which is another way to say that body language is much more important than words.

How can that be?

Well, here's another famous soundbite to explain: "human communication is only 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal."

This was the finding of Professor Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer of body language research of the 1950s. His work is still respected today.

Breaking the non-verbal part down further, 38% of communication is things like tone of voice, inflection and other sounds. And, according to Professor Mehrabian, the other 55% is... body language.

Yes, more than half of all human communication is done through body language!

If only more people were aware of this hidden truth of the human experience.

I don't know about you, but I've met too many people whose body language lets them down, or shows the true nature they're trying to conceal with words.

In many ways, this is helpful. Body language can reveal a person's true feelings, when they are too shy or hurt to tell us in words. It can expose the liars and deceivers we meet. As the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein put it, "the human body is the best picture of the human soul."



But body language can also hinder you, if you aren't in control of it. For example, what if...
  • You're trying to get ahead in life, but you lack self-confidence?
  • You need to get on well with a client, colleague or relative in difficult circumstances?
  • You need to give a great speech, pitch or presentation, even though you're really nervous?
In all these and many more scenarios, your body language can say very negative things about you – if left unchecked.

A recent experience springs to mind.

I went for a haircut one afternoon at a new place just around the corner from my office. It had been open a couple of months or so. My office is in a busy area, with lots of workplaces and – I presume – lots of people who need a haircut from time to time. But I could see as I approached that this new place was virtually empty. And I quickly discovered why.

When I entered and went to the counter, I was received by a man I think was the manager. However, he didn't welcome me with a smile. He didn't even speak. He just scowled grumpily, as if I was encroaching on his personal space. His shoulders were slumped, as though he didn't want to be there, or to have to deal with anyone.

I said I wanted a haircut. "Yeah, that one over there," he said, gesturing towards one of the empty seats.

Thankfully that was my last interaction with him. The person who did my hair was much friendlier, and they did a good job too. But I'll always remember the manager's unfriendly welcome – all communicated through body language – and I'm sure it's one reason the business hasn't taken off.

A very important question remains:

How can you become more aware of your body language and get it right?

How could the unfriendly manager I just described improve their body language – and most likely as a result, their takings?

Here are 7 common negative body language habits, how other people interpret them, and how you can fix them.

Want to Communicate More Effectively?


If you'd like to learn more about communication, why not take a look at how we can help?

Boost your communication skills with our online courses.
RRP from $89 – limited time offer just $9.99



1. Standing with your feet pointing inwards

Your stance is a key part of your body language – it communicates your level of confidence and openness. Standing with your feet together, or pointing inwards, suggests you're closed-off and defensive.

If you want to appear friendlier and more open, try widening your stance and point your feet outwards a little.

2. Holding the top of one arm

Holding on to a part of your own body is a form of self-comfort. Holding the top of arm with your other hand is a common way to self-soothe when you're uncomfortable or annoyed.

Try relaxing your arms or putting your hands together if you want to appear happier and more composed.

3. Touching your cuff, sleeve or watch

Tapping your wrist area is another way people self-soothe. It communicates nervousness and agitation.

Again, try resting your hands by your sides or clasping them together. Even putting your hands in your pockets is a better option than nervously fidgeting.

4. Sitting with one leg crossed over the other, holding the top leg

You might find yourself sitting this way in situations where you want to be in control – but it can be interpreted by other people as aggressive and even a little arrogant.

Try uncrossing your legs and placing your palms flat on your thighs. This still projects confidence, but is much more open and friendly.

5. Sitting with your face resting in your palm

It's the classic bored posture – especially when your facial expression is disinterested too!

Two small adjustments can fix it. Firstly, lift your head a little and brighten your expression. And secondly, rest your chin on the back of your hand, instead of your knuckles. Suddenly you appear much more engaged!



6. Sitting with arms crossed

Another classic body language mistake. Many of us do it without thinking, but it makes us appear closed off and defensive.

If you want to appear more welcoming and confident, simply unfold your arms.

7. Holding the back of your head or neck, or rubbing your eyes

This habit indicates nervousness, uncertainty, or that you aren't being completely honest about something.

Avoid this stance when you need to make a good impression – keep your arms relaxed at your sides instead.

Changing your body language can change your self-image, too

How worthwhile is it to make these changes?

In an influential recent TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that using confident and positive body language doesn't just change how other people see us – it can change how we see ourselves, too.

Start working on your body language now

So, by being more aware of your body language and actively working in it – getting into good habits by practicing confident stances and poses – you can boost your actual confidence and potentially be more successful.

I hope these tips have helped you – and I hope the manager of my local hairdresser reads this article. With these pointers, he might scare away fewer customers!
P.S. In case you're unsure about how good your own communication skills are, we have a free, personalised test that you can take in 4-5 minutes, and it can be found here.

Want to Communicate More Effectively?


If you'd like to learn more about communication, why not take a look at how we can help?

Boost your communication skills with our online courses.
RRP from $89 – limited time offer just $9.99

More Articles on Communication

The History of Communication
The History of Communication
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Read about the history of communication, how it first appeared and how it has evolved over time on the Activia Training website.
[ close ]
5 Ways to Avoid Communication Barriers in any Environment
5 Ways to Avoid Communication Barriers in any Environment
Ronnie Peterson
Author: Ronnie Peterson
About the article
Summary
Barriers to effective communication cause problems everywhere. These 5 tips will show you how to avoid common breakdowns in communication.
[ close ]
7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills
7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Although we don't realise it, listening is the most important part of communication. Here are 7 easy ways to improve your listening skills.
[ close ]
6 Ways to Be a Better Communicator
6 Ways to Be a Better Communicator
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Overcome the consequences of poor communication by learning 6 easy ways to improve your own communication, both at work and at home.
[ close ]
Nine Reasons Why We Need to Communicate Assertively
Nine Reasons Why We Need to Communicate Assertively
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Thinking and behaving assertively can be two separate things, and you need both for success. Here are nine reasons to act and think assertively.
[ close ]
Is Modern Technology Helping or Hindering Communication?
Is Modern Technology Helping or Hindering Communication?
Jordan James
Author: Jordan James
About the article
Summary
Modern technology has made communication easier than ever. But are all the developments positive? This article looks at both sides of this.
[ close ]
7 Habits of Super-Persuasive People
7 Habits of Super-Persuasive People
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Learn 7 fantastic ways to help you become more persuasive so that you can influence people positively both at work and at home
[ close ]
6 Effective Ways to Communicate in a Team Environment
6 Effective Ways to Communicate in a Team Environment
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Learn about the importance of effective communication within teams, and 6 effective ways to communicate in a team environment.
[ close ]
How to Improve Communication Skills at Work
How to Improve Communication Skills at Work
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
When youre working in a company, communication is one of the most important skills you could possess. Here are our tips on how to improve communication skills at work.
[ close ]
6 Social Media Fails That Will Harm Your Career
6 Social Media Fails That Will Harm Your Career
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Social media is a blessing and a curse - too many employees have discovered too late that their boss knows what they're up to! Here's how to make the most of it without compromising your career.
[ close ]
The 7 Best Ways to Read Body Language
The 7 Best Ways to Read Body Language
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Activia talks about some of the best ways to read body language and how you can use these non-verbal signs to improve your communication.
[ close ]
Why Good Communicators Beat Clever People in Business
Why Good Communicators Beat Clever People in Business
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Steve Jobs and Richard Branson didn't rise to the top of their game on book-smarts alone. But which is more important, communication, or academia?
[ close ]
 

Write for us on the ZandaX blog

We're always looking for guest contributors to increase the variety and diversity of what we present.
Click to see how you can write for us:
 

The ZandaX Personal Development blog categories

Click a panel to visit the main category pages for the blog
Time Management
Time Management
Communication
Communication
[ This category ]
Relationships
Relationships
Assertiveness
Assertiveness
Anger Management
Anger Management
Stress Management
Stress Management

ZandaX Blog Contents

Want to see them all? Click to view a full list of articles in our blogs.

zandax online courses logo
"ZandaX courses are such great value, and with the help and support they give, there's no better option in the market"
ZandaX LinkedIn logo
ZandaX YouTube logo
ZandaX FaceBook logo
 
All content © ZandaX 2024