What is the first noticeable thing about a person? Their body language.
I have often been told that I come across as a warm, welcoming person. And probably that is the reason so far I have never failed in any interview! But I can tell you showing yourself as a poised and polite person is very easy.
As a child I had a very loud, strong voice. So much so that in my school I was nick named as ‘Buland Aawaz’ (“loud, motivating voice”). It worked well in speeches and debates but at a more personal level, I soon realized I was being taken as a dominating person. When a friend pointed that out, I readily agreed to improve upon it.
First thing I did was to lower my tone while talking to people in person. With deliberate and conscious efforts, I could easily reach a level where I would keep my baritone at a pleasant level. This also taught me the importance of body language.
People have different body gestures and these define their personalities. Some people seem intimidating, some seem dishonest, some rude while some are strikingly welcoming. It is this non-verbal communication that sets the tone of the conversation and eventually determines the direction of the decisions.
Actress and playwright Mae West had once commented, ‘I speak two languages: English and Body’.
Indeed other than the words we speak, our body language best conveys our thoughts, confidence and honesty.
By studying these non-verbal cues, one can easily gauge what is actually going on in our minds and whether we are being honest in our words or not.
A person’s body language makes a huge difference in their likeability factor, self-confidence and people skills thus enhancing their overall personality. One should be very conscious about his/her body language. As many a times we unintentionally send wrong message with some of our gestures.
In today’s times of cut-throat competition where people have mastered the basic know-hows of essential communication skills, it is the body language that can give you an edge.
Ironically, body language or kinesics is not just about the way you twist or twirl your body. It is about every minute detail that is consociated with each of your moves and it includes your smile, movement of eyes and even the movement of your brows.
A person may not be shouting at you verbally but still you know he is fuming. How? Probably his eyes are revealing the truth or his clinching fist tells his true state of mind.
The way it is important to use right body language, it is equally important to learn to read non-verbal cues to understand people and their intentions. Learning body language not only helps in making a good impression but also helps immensely in figuring out the ‘unsaid’.
For example, nodding in a conversation means agreement, but if nodding is excessive it suggests the person is trying to please the speaker. Gesticulation is important but overdoing it or using dramatic gestures may harm a person’s image.
Below are some common body language dos and don’ts.
Give a Firm Handshake
This is the most important body language basic. A handshake says a lot about your confidence. A firm, tight handshake speaks on behalf of your confidence and determination while a weak, shaky handshake gives the impression of no interest or no confidence.
Do the Nod
When people are talking to you. Nod once in a while to signal attentiveness but don’tt make it excessive.
Ease Your Shoulders
Keep your shoulders upright as a sign of alertness and keep them loose while moving them back (not pull back) slightly to have a relaxed posture.
Make deliberative moves. They make you look thoughtful and confident. If someone calls out to you, don’t snap your neck in that direction. Turn it slowly. Be composed.
Maintain Eye Contact
When giving a presentation or talking to a group, make eye contact with all of them. This helps in making better connection but make sure you are not staring. Staring is offensive.
Lower Your Drink
Holding your drink in front of your chest signals being guarded. Hold your drink lower and casually.
Smiling once in a while is a very good sign of being pleasant and shows your amiability but make sure you do not smile unnecessarily. And it should not look like a plastic, fake, forced smile.
Slouching in the chair suggests you are unprepared. Avoid it to show confidence.
Don’t Rub the Back of Head
Rubbing your hands together or rubbing the back of your head or neck means you are bored. It shows you want to leave the scene immediately.
Don’t Shake Legs
Sitting with legs crossed and shaking one leg means you are being nervous. Not only it is highly irritating to the person sitting next to you, it is also a sign of weakness.
Don’t Keep Hands in Pocket
Keeping hands in pocket while talking to people or giving a presentation means the person is not confident. Also, it is taken as a sign of disrespect in many cultures.
Don’t Keep Arms Folded
Arms folded across the chest suggests the person is not interested or is being defensive.
Don’t Bite Your Nails
I understand that for people who bite their nails, this is not a sign of weakness or nervousness. I am a very confident person and I bite my nails a lot. And I know what drives me to nail biting. It is not nervousness but a mode of deep critical thinking. But still so many ask me not to be nervous when they see me biting my nails.
More Body Language Basics
- Leaning head on hands while tilting head back could mean the person is distracted or day dreaming.
- Above could also mean they are sceptical about what the speaker is saying.
- Leaning head to the side, fully facing the speaker, means the person is giving his/her full attention.
- Touching hair or twirling can mean the person is either self-conscious or trying to flirt.
Follow these basic body language rules and leave a long lasting first impression.
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