Not long ago I read a very interesting blog post about How body language helps you communicate and I started thinking on all the social Christmas events that are coming up and those you cannot run from!
Sometimes these festive situations make us feel uncomfortable... Forced smiles and enforced conversations, awkward questions... all of this with recurrent episodes of binge eating and unwelcome hangovers...
This is one of the tolls we have to pay on "the most wonderful time of the year".
But let's be positive. We can learn new things about these social events. We can work and improve our nonverbal language and analyse the body language of people around us (many surprises will await you...)
According to the Professor Mehrabian "communication is only 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal. The non-verbal component is made up of body language (55%) and tone of voice (38%)".
It is usually done unconsciously, so it is a strong indicator of the emotional state of the person you communicate with or watch.
Be aware of the environment factor too, as it might influence the person’s body language; think of the room temperature, other noises, tiredness... you get the picture.
That said, let's focus on each area of the body:
1. Face movements
Be careful if you cover or touch your mouth while talking, this means you could try to hide something.
If the person you are talking with starts touching their ear, that could mean that they want to speak (or make you stop speaking...).
Don't believe the person that is making a compliment about your "hairstyle" while touching their nose or rubbing their eye. It's a sure signal of lying!
2. Head position
Pay attention to the exaggerated posture because that means the person is doing their full consciousness to influence you.
Lift the head and project the chin forward is a sign that communicates aggressiveness and power.
If you want to transmit good vibrations, interest and understanding just nod your head. But be careful of doing this several times very quickly because it might communicate that you have heard enough.
Tilting your head means submission because you leave your neck exposed for the kill.
Stop boring your conversation partner with your holiday pictures if he/she has their chin on an opened hand. Keep going however if the hand is closed; he/she is interested on what you are talking about.
3. The eyes talk too
No wrinkles around the eyes while smiling? Ask her for her eye contour cream - I'm joking!... It's a fake smile. A natural smile produces your characteristic wrinkles around your eyes.
Don't pretend flirting is blinking your eyes repeatedly. That means that you are trying to block the vision of the other person because of boredom or lack of trust.
Pay attention to the pupils of your conversationalist: A dilated pupil means love and a they like watching something you show, display, etc... while a contracted pupil expresses hostility.
Looking side to side? Try to cover up you that you are bored; looking to the sides it’s a giveaway.
4. Different types of smiles
You can catch a fake smile on your colleague if the left side of the smile is higher or more pronounced than the right. The half of the brain's cortex that specialises in facial expressions is in the right hemisphere and sends signals mainly to the left side of the body.
A natural smile (or Duchenne smile) produces wrinkles around eyes, elevates the cheeks and descends the eyebrows.
5. What about the arms?
Change the topic of the conversation if you see your conversational partner is crossing their arms. It's a sign of disagreement.
Never cross just one arm to hold the other arm, you will show lack of confidence! Instead of this you can hold your hands behind your back. You will reflect a "no fear" stance because of leaving exposed your weak areas like stomach and throat.
Folded and crossed arms with thumbs up is a defensive posture.
7. Legs position
The way people place their legs in a conversational situation is a good clue to great non-verbal communication. See for yourself!
Someone could be interested in you if an advanced leg points to you. That means you are the most attractive or interesting person on the room. If you don't feel comfortable just point to the door with your feet. The conversation will dry up! It will be a clear signal that the conversation should be ended and you want to leave.
Crossed legs are a tough one because women and men do this naturally. What the crossed leg does is change your upper body position. If the upper body is back in the seat the person is comfortable, check the crossed leg foot, if it points to you that’s a good sign, if its away its not. If the persons upper body is leaning away from you; you are not in rapport. If the upper body is leaning into you; you are.
Some of the most typical masculine pose for legs are sitting with a leg elevated over the other leg where the foot rests on the knee. That reveals a competitive attitude or ready they are ready to argue. Men sitting with their legs apart, at varying degrees will more than likely transmit dominance and territoriality.
Us ladies, are you sitting with a leg wrapped or twisted around another leg denotes shyness and introversion.
Try not to let your leg get the shakes because it shows anxiety, irritation and your internal dialogue to speed things up.
Great rapport means your conversationalist will emulate or follow your body language. You break matching body language and your conversation will end or breakdown.
So now you have absorbed this information, the next "Christmas social event" why not practice your new skills, you will be more confident and be aware of other people’s behaviour (and yours). Now you can feel ready to face these situations with a clearer insight into body language.
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