Decode Nonverbal Clues: What Body Language Tells Us

Your attire is impeccable; your sales pitch expertly delivered. What else can you do to make a good impression, secure a sale, or inspire confidence? Pay attention to body language. From head to toe, your nonverbal cues can help or muddle your intended meaning.

Head movements: A head held straight indicates a neutral attitude. Holding your head down is perceived as negative, while tilting it at an angle means you’re interested in the conversation.

Eyes: Make eye contact to show interest. Looking away indicates dishonesty or a lack of interest.

Mouth: Smile. It shows warmth and confidence and puts others at ease. Who doesn’t like to interact with a friendly person?

Hands: Hand gestures may communicate enthusiasm, but too much gesturing can come across as immature or uncertain. Your best bet is to keep your arms relaxed and at your sides.

Arms: Folding your arms across your chest signals that you feel defensive.

Hand movements: Bringing a hand to the back of your neck may indicate your wish to end the conversation.

Legs: Crossing your legs can make you appear both lopsided and insecure. Sit straight up, with feet flat on the floor. Never rest one leg or ankle on the opposite knee. This posture is too relaxed for the business environment and can make you appear arrogant and unprofessional.

Understanding body language can help you be a more effective communicator—and help you read others.

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