Body language is when you talk to others not with your voice but with your body and gestures. It serves to better understand words since it gives them colour, emotion and meaning. The body language is many times more … “betraying” as we would like. It can also be used to understand if the other person lies, is honest with us and he really believes about us. It is a way to diagnose character, personality, mood and emotions.
Body language starts with the posture, gestures and expressions of your face and movements of your body. Body language is frequently one of the factors that determine the honesty and credibility of people. When someone can interpret body language moves and gestures it will be in better position to understand and handle other people in many aspects of life including relationships, friendships and work.
But how can you improve your body language? To improve your body language you have to first understand and interpret body language expressions and movements.Most often, the mere avoidance of the most classic mistakes and replacing them by other movements showing more confidence can make the difference.
Body Language Expressions and their meaning
1. Eye contact
The person who avoids direct eye contact when making a presentation or talking to a group of people is a sign that he/she does not have confidence, he is nervous and unprepared. The overwhelming majority of people during a presentation look at their notes, the table in front of them or outside the window.
To improve your body language in this area you should spend more than 90% of the time in your presentation looking at the audience in the eyes. It is useful to video record yourself so as to take notice of how you look when you are targeting an audience in conjunction with the degree of attention the audience gives back to you during the presentation.
Take the example of powerful business leaders who tend to look their audience directly into the eyes when they want to pass a message. Check out some of the presentations by Bill Gates to see how he spoke to people with his body language.
2. Low eyes
The person who lowers the eyes when talking with someone has insecurity, is blushing and feels inferior to the person he is talking to and maybe even fear. Take for example a child who has made a mistake. Probably he will lie to his parents in order not to be punished. Usually he will tell a fictional story and try to avoid looking its parents in the eyes because it fears that they will understand the lie and perhaps punish him for that.
3. Leaning Back
Leaning back means lack of confidence, assertiveness, general insecurity and pessimism and also poor psychological mood. We are not talking about people who have slightly bending backs as characteristic of their body, but for those who bend their backs either consciously or unconsciously. Literally when someone is bending their back means that the person feels a great mental burden.
To improve your body language in this respect, when standing it is better to open your feet a little in width, parallel to your shoulders and bend slightly forward. Your head and spine should be straight.
4. Nervous movements of the body
Making nervous movements with your body is an indication that you are nervous, uncertain or unprepared.
You must stop being nervous. Take the example of an employee in a software company who had to convey the news to the management for delaying a product. In fact, his team had the situation under control and took valuable lessons from the delay but his body language suggested otherwise. The biggest problem was that he went forward and backwards during the presentation, which shows a lack of assertiveness and self control.
Playing with the coins in your pocket, shaking your feet or knocking you shoe on the floor are all signs that you are nervous or not focused. You can videotape yourself and observe the video critically. It is certain that you will find movements that you look nervous even though you did not realised it before.
5. Being totally rigid
Being totally rigid shows that you are nervous, boring and not dynamic.
When standing do not be totally rigid and idle, instead it is better to move or walk when you are making presentations. Most people who want to make a presentation they consider that it is better standing still in the same position throughout the presentation. What they do not realise is that moving is not only acceptable but is also welcomed.
6. Moving with a purpose
Some of the leading speakers when addressing their audience they move constantly during their speech, but with a purpose. For example, a dynamic speaker will walk from one side of the room to another to convey his message. But if there is no one in a corner of the room, it makes no sense to go there, this is not moving with a purpose.
7. Hands in the pockets
Keeping you hands in your pocket is a sign that you are nervous or indifferent. The solution here is very simple: Remove your hands from the pockets. One hand in the pocket is acceptable, provided the other hand is free to make gestures emphatically supporting the speech.
8. ‘Out of the book’ gestures
Making ‘out of the book’ gestures shows that you are not acting in a physical way or that you faking. You can make gestures but simply do not overdo it. Researchers have shown that gestures reflect complex thinking. The gestures provide listeners a feeling of confidence, power and control. But if you try to copy a gesture you run into the risk that people will understand that you have planned for it.
When you speak and making gestures the sound should correctly match the movements.
9. Cross feet and Cross Hands
Cross feet and moving one of the legs sharply back and front as if you are kicking. It means that you feel discomfort about some situation or debate and you want to leave.
Cross hands means that we do not want any disruptions, we want to be clogged to ourselves, we do not have the mood for communication and we are closed at any goodwill of others. Unconsciously when we cross hands we create a wall between others and ourselves.
10. Hands in front of the mouth
When you put your hands in front of the mouth it shows the embarrassment and insecurity of the individual in general and in particular the uncertainty to speak.
11. Tight Lips
Tight lips during speech and a sad expression shows that the person has nerves, angriness, with a negative trend for introversion and feels that he is forced to speak and sees no time to finish.
12. Rigid shoulders
Rigid shoulders show that the person is stressed, worried and concerned.
13. Close physical contact
Close physical contact and tendency of individuals to touch the other person is a sign of happiness, a good mood for communication and even willingness to flirt.
14. Spasmodic moves with the hands
Spasmodic movements are the expression of the hands or stiffness or lack of flexibility and coordination, which means stress, anxiety and insecurity.
15. Proud Walking
Proud walking shows a person with self-confidence, believing in itself but perhaps self centric.
16. Frequently moving the head
Frequent movements of the head, instead of verbal responses means again that the other person puts a firewall between you or that it does not follow what you are saying.
17. Sitting comfortably and relaxed
If the other person sits comfortably and relaxed, it does not show that he is bored but simply enjoying the conversation and gives you attention, is a good indication that it cares about you and your thoughts.
18. Open Palms
When the person has open palms and it also displaying them to other persons, it shows friendly attitude and warmth.
19. Waving head
Waving head affirmative during a speech shows that you pay attention and that you are finding the debate interesting.
20. Following other person’s body language
When a person adjusts its body language according to the movements of some other person is a sign of harmony between the two.