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Body Language

It is a kind of non-verbal communication , where thoughts, intentions, or feelings `are expressed by physical behaviours, such as facial expressions, body posture, gesture , eye movement, touch and the use of space.

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Here, we teach you how to express yourself without speaking a word. 

Body language include-

  • Facial expression is integral when expressing emotions through the body. Combinations of eyes, eyebrow, lips, nose, and cheek movements help form different moods of an individual (e.g. happy, sad, depressed, angry, etc.)

Body Postures: Emotions can also be detected through body postures. body postures are more accurately recognised when an emotion is compared with a different or neutral emotion.For example, a person feeling angry would portray dominance over the other, and his/her posture displays approach tendencies. Comparing this to a person feeling fearful: he/she would feel weak, submissive and his/her posture would display avoidance tendencies, the opposite of an angry person.

Body Languages Do’s

  • Properly expressing yourself through body language gives you a great advantage in a job interview. While everybody communicates with body language, most of us do it on a subconscious level.
  •  Whether you like it or not, this subconscious body language will influence the way an interviewer thinks or feels about you. If you send the right signals, you will be liked and trusted. Send the wrong signals however, and you jeopardize your chances of landing the job. The key to positive body language in an interview is self-awareness. Become aware of the signals you are sending and learn how to use your body to your advantage.

Do Assess Yourself

  • Before your interview, assess your own body language. Ask a friend to help you identify unusual habits or annoying behaviour such as hair-twirling, head-scratching or excessive frowning. Such body language may betray you in an interview, causing you to look nervous or untrustworthy. 
  • It’s also a good idea to rehearse your interview in front of a mirror or video camera. The more you practice good body language, the more natural and relaxed you will feel during your interview.

Do Maintain a Good Posture

  • Aim to look confident, interested and alert by sitting upright and leaning slightly forward. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap, using them to gesture appropriately as you speak.

Do Make Eye Contact

  • Demonstrate you are alert and interested by keeping good eye contact with your interviewer. If you look away or can’t look someone in the eye, you may be perceived as shy or, worse still, ignorant and disinterested. 
  • Always look at the person speaking to you. It’s okay to be natural and glance away, but be sure to acknowledge every question with eye contact.

Do Smile

  • A smile works well to break the ice, help you relax and build rapport with your interviewer. Always smile at your first greeting and when saying ‘thank you’ at the end of the interview.

Do Mirror Your Interviewer

  • Mirroring is a well known rapport building technique, which involves matching your own body language to the interviewer’s body language. 
  • Without being obvious, you can discreetly adapt your posture, tone of voice and facial expressions to match the interviewer’s. This helps build rapport by making the other person feel more comfortable around you. Your aim is to establish common ground and foster mutual respect.

Body Languages Don’ts

Don’t Fold Your Arms or Legs

  • Folding your arms or crossing your legs may make you appear defensive and arrogant. If you habitually cross your legs, try keeping your knees close together and crossing your legs at the ankles. 
  • If you’re unsure what to do with your hands, leave them relaxed in your lap. If you’re standing, it’s okay to keep one hand on your waist.

Don’t Slouch

  • Slouching not only looks bad, it makes it difficult for you to breathe. Avoid a slovenly appearance and weak, breathless voice by sitting up tall. 
  • Keep your spine straight and shoulders comfortably pulled back. This allows you to breathe deeply, resulting in a stronger, more confident tone of voice.

Don’t Fidget

  • If you’re a fidget by nature, make an extra effort to control your habits. 
  • Swaying, scratching, rocking, finger tapping, arm swinging and foot bouncing will make you appear nervous and annoy other people in the room.

Don’t Overlook the Little Things

  • Even the smallest body gestures count towards your overall communication. Left untamed, little things such as eye blinking, nose curling, lip biting and shoulder shrugging can let you down. 
  • Overcome these bad habits by first becoming aware of your own mannerisms, then deliberately controlling your body language when you’re in the interview.

Don’t Be Self-Focused

  • Although body language is important, don’t be too focused on your own behaviour. Get the basics right by following this “Do’s and Don’ts” guide. 
  • Don’t worry so much about the way you look that you can’t concentrate on the interview. You want to be self-aware without being self-absorbed!

This article will explain many of the ways in which we communicate non-verbally, so that you can use these signs and signals to communicate more effectively.

First Impressions and Confidence

Recall a time when you met someone new at work. Or think about the last time you watched a speaker deliver a presentation.

What were your first impressions https://www.mindtools.com/images/tooltip/reading-plus-grey.gif? Did you sense confidence or a lack of confidence in them? Did you want to associate with them or not? Were you convinced by them?

Did they stride into the room, engage you and maintain eye contact or were they tentative, shuffling towards you with eyes averted, before sliding into a chair? What about their handshake – firm and strong or weak and limp?

  • Moving along in the conversation, did they maintain solid eye contact or were they frequently looking away? Did their face appear relaxed or was it tight and tense? What about their hand and arm movements? Were their gestures wide, flowing and open or were they tight, jerky and closed?
  • As you observe others, you can identify some common signs and signals that give away whether they are feeling confident or not. Typical things to look for in confident people include:
  • Posture – standing tall with shoulders back.
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  • Eye contact – solid with a “smiling” face.
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  • Gestures with hands and arms – purposeful and deliberate.
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  • Speech – slow and clear.
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  • Tone of voice – moderate to low.
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As well as deciphering other people’s body language, you can use this knowledge to convey feelings that you’re not actually experiencing.

Difficult Meetings and Defensiveness

Think of a time when you were in a difficult meeting – perhaps a performance appraisal https://www.mindtools.com/images/tooltip/reading-plus-grey.gif or one where you are negotiating deadlines, responsibilities or a contract. In an ideal world, both you and the other person would be open and receptive to hearing what each other has to say, in order to conclude the meeting successfully.

However, often, the other person is defensive and doesn’t really listen. If this happens during an appraisal meeting, and it’s important for you to convey to your colleague that he or she needs to change certain behaviours, you really want them open and receptive to you so they take on board what you are saying.

So how can you tell whether your message is falling on “deaf ears”?

Some of the common signs that the person you are speaking with may be feeling defensive include:

  • Hand/arm gestures are small and close to his or her body.
  • Facial expressions are minimal.
  • Body is physically turned away from you.
  • Arms are crossed in front of body.
  • Eyes maintain little contact, or are downcast.

By picking up these signs, you can change what you say or how you say it to help the other person become more at ease, and more receptive to what you are saying.

Equally, if you are feeling somewhat defensive going into a negotiating situation, you can monitor your own body language to ensure that the messages you are conveying are ones that say that you are open and receptive to what is being discussed.

Working With Groups and Disengagement

Have you ever delivered a presentation, and had a sense that people weren’t really buying into what you had to say? What about working with a group to facilitate a consensus on responsibilities and deadlines? Was everyone on board with the ideas, or did some appear disengaged?

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Ideally, when you stand up to deliver a presentation or work with group, you want 100 percent engagement with all concerned. This often doesn’t happen on its own, though. But you can actively engage the audience when you need to if you’re alert to some of the typical signs and signals of people not being engaged. Some of these signs and signals include:

  • Heads are down.
  • Eyes are glazed, or gazing at something else.
  • Hands may be picking at clothes, or fiddling with pens.
  • People may be writing or doodling.
  • They may be sitting slumped in their chairs.

When you pick up that someone appears not to be engaged in what is going on, you can do something to re-engage him or her and bring their focus back to what you are saying, such as asking them a direct question.

And while this is going on, make sure that your own body language is saying what you want it to.

Lying

Of all the non-verbal body language that we may observe, being able to tell whether a person is lying or not will stand you in good stead.

Some of the typical signs and signals that a person is lying include:

  • Eyes maintain little or no eye contact, or there may be rapid eye movements, with pupils constricted.
  • Hand or fingers are in front of his or her mouth when speaking.
  • His or her body is physically turned away from you, or there are unusual/un-natural body gestures.
  • His or her breathing rate increases.
  • Complexion changes such as in color; red in face or neck area.
  • Perspiration increases.
  • Voice changes such as change in pitch, stammering, throat clearing.

As with all non-verbal language, it’s important to remember here that everyone’s personal body language is slightly different. If you notice some of the typical non-verbal signs of lying, you shouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions, as many of these signals can be confused with the appearance of nervousness. What you should do, however, is use these signals as a prompt to probe.  further, ask more questions and explore the area in more detail to determine whether they are being truthful or not.

Further clarification is always worthwhile when checking out your understanding of someone’s body language, and this is particularly true during job interviews and in negotiating situations.

Interviews and Negotiations, and Reflection

What do you do when you are asked a really good question? Do you ponder for a few moments before answering?

You might simply blurt something out without taking time to think about the answer, or you could take a moment to reflect before answering. By taking some time to reflect on your response, you are indicating to the questioner that they’ve asked you a good question and it is important enough for you to take some time to consider your answer.

Be that in an interview situation  or when negotiating something with someone, showing that you are indeed thinking over your answer is a positive thing. Some typical signs and signals that a person is reflecting on their answer include:

  • Eyes look away and return to engage contact only when answering.
  • Finger stroking on chin.
  • Hand to cheek.
  • Head tilted with eyes looking up.

So, whether you are on the receiving end of someone pondering, or you are doing the pondering, there are certain gestures that give it away.

One Size Does NOT Fit All

  • We mentioned earlier that each person is unique, and that their signs and signals might have a different underlying cause from the ones you suspect. This is often the case when people have different past experiences, and particularly where cultural differences https://www.mindtools.com/images/tooltip/reading-plus-grey.gif are large. This is why it’s important to check that your interpretation of someone else’s body language is correct. You might do this through the use of further questions, or simply by getting to know the person better.
  • To help practice and further develop your skill in picking up body language, engage in people-watching. Observe people – be that on a bus/train or on television without the sound – and just notice how they act and react to each other. When you watch others, try to guess what they are saying or get a sense of what is going on between them.
  • Even if you do not get the chance to check whether you are correct in your assessment, you will be developing your observational skills. This in turn can help you to pick up signals when you are interacting with others.

Tip:

As well as learning to read body language, people often consciously use it to project messages and reinforce what they’re saying – we can all call to mind the body language used by a “slippery” used-car salesman.

Whether or not this is acceptable depends on the situation. It’s fine to put on a “brave face” when you’re about to meet someone or do a presentation. However, it’s not acceptable if you’re trying to persuade someone to do something that’s against their interests – what’s more, the gestures you can’t control may give you away, leading to a serious loss of trust and credibility.

Key Points

Body language impacts a great deal of how we communicate, and can reflect quite accurately what’s going on inside us.

It includes body movements and gestures (legs, arms, hands, head and torso), posture, muscle tension, eye contact, skin coloring (flushed red), even people’s breathing rate and perspiration. Additionally, the tone of voice, the rate of speech and the pitch of the voice all add to the words that are being used.

It is important to recognize that body language may vary between individuals, and between different cultures and nationalities. It is therefore essential to verify and confirm the signals that you are reading, by questioning the individual and getting to know the person.

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