Examples of positive body language
The Importance of Body Language Analysis
Beyond Words – How to Read Unspoken Signals
What Is Body Language?
Body language is the unspoken part of communication that we use to reveal our true feelings and to give our message more impact.
Communication is made up of so much more than words. Nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, gestures and posture all play their part.
A simple example of body language is a relaxed facial expression that breaks out into a genuine smile – with mouth upturned and eyes wrinkled. Equally, it can be a tilt of the head that shows you're thinking, an upright stance to convey interest, or hand and arm movements to demonstrate directions. It can also be taking care to avoid a defensive, arms-crossed posture, or restlessly tapping your feet.
When you can "read" signs like these, you can understand the complete message in what someone is telling you. You'll be more aware of people's reactions to what you say and do, too. And you'll be able to adjust your body language to appear more positive, engaging and approachable.
In this article and video, we explore body language some more, and look at how you can interpret it to understand and communicate with people more effectively.
We also have an infographic showing how to put this information about body language into practice.
The Science of Body Language
You've probably heard the statistic that only seven percent of a message is conveyed through words, and that the other 93 percent comes from nonverbal communication. This is often quoted out of context and is therefore misleading.
It's taken from Mehrabian's Communication Model, which states that body language is more important than tone of voice and choice of words when communicating true feelings. But Mehrabian makes clear that his study dealt only with communications involving emotions and attitudes. So, it's not applicable in all cases.
However, it does help to explain why it's so tough to gauge sentiment when we can't see people – on email or messaging apps, for example. It's also part of the reason for the rise in use of emojis, even in business communication.
Click here to view a transcript of our Body Language video.
How to Read Body Language
Being aware of body language in others means that you can pick up on unspoken emotions and reactions. It’s a valuable form of feedback, but it can easily be missed if you’re not aware of what to look out for.
So let’s explore the most important nonverbal clues – some with negative interpretations, and others that are positive signs.
Negative Body Language Examples
If someone’s exhibiting one or more of the following, negative behaviors, they'll likely be disengaged, disinterested or unhappy (see figure 1):
- Arms folded in front of the body.
- Minimal or tense facial expression.
- Body turned away from you.
- Eyes downcast, maintaining little contact.
You may encounter these behaviors when you’re dealing with colleagues who are upset, or dissatisfied customers.
Being aware of what these signals mean can help you to adjust what you say – and how you say it. You can show empathy for someone’s unhappiness, for example, explain yourself more clearly, or work to calm a heated situation.
If someone exhibits these signs during a negotiation, focus on engaging their interest and putting them at their ease. Then, if the negative behavior stops, you’ll know that they’re ready to negotiate with you effectively – and more open to persuasion.
Other types of body language can indicate that someone’s bored by what you’re saying. This might be in a presentation, a team meeting, or even a one-on-one chat.
Here are some of the most common signs of boredom (illustrated in figures 2–5, below):
- Sitting slumped, with head downcast.
- Gazing at something else, or into space.
- Fidgeting, picking at clothes, or fiddling with pens and phones.
- Writing or doodling.
You can re-engage people by asking them a direct question, or by inviting them to contribute an idea.
Additional signs of negative body language include:
- Nail biting – suggesting insecurity or stress.
- Locked ankles – also associated with anxious thoughts.
- Rapid blinking – which may indicate uncertainty or concern.
- Tapping/drumming fingers – often a mark of impatience or boredom.
- Fidgeting – more evidence that someone’s disinterested or distracted.
Positive Body Language Examples
People also use their body language to convey positive feelings, such as trust, interest and happiness. Spotting these signs can reassure you that others are engaged with what you’re saying and at ease with the situation.
What’s more, by adopting these behaviors yourself, you can support your points, convey ideas more clearly, and avoid sending mixed messages.
Here are three specific ways to use positive body language to your advantage:
1. Body Language for a Good First Impression
Your nonverbal signs play a big part in people’s first impression of you. Here are ways to appear trustworthy, engaged, confident, and calm:
- Have an open posture. Be relaxed, but don't slouch. Sit or stand upright and place your hands by your sides (see figure 6). Avoid standing with your hands on your hips, as this can communicate aggression or a desire to dominate (figure 7).
- Use a firm handshake. But don't get carried away! You don't want it to become awkward, aggressive, or painful for the other person.
- Maintain good eye contact. Try to hold the other person's gaze for a few seconds at a time. This will show them that you're sincere and engaged. But avoid turning it into a staring contest! (figure 8).
- Avoid touching your face. If you do this while answering questions, it can be seen as a sign of dishonesty (figure 9). While this isn't always the case, you should still avoid fiddling with your hair or scratching your nose, so that you convey trustworthiness.
- Smile! Warm, sincere smiles are attractive, reassuring – and infectious!
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It's easy to miss some of the subtleties of body language. So, check out our Body Language Video for more advice on how to interpret and convey signals effectively.
2. Body Language for Effective Public Speaking
Positive body language can help you to engage people, mask any presentation nerves, and project confidence when you speak in public. Here are a few tips to help you do this:
- Have a positive posture. Sit or stand upright, with your shoulders back and your arms unfolded by your sides or in front of you (see figure 10). Don't be tempted to put your hands in your pockets, or to slouch, as this will make you look disinterested.
- Keep your head up. Your head should be upright and level (figure 11). Leaning too far forward or backward can make you look aggressive or arrogant.
- Practice and perfect your posture. Stand in a relaxed manner, with your weight evenly distributed. Keep one foot slightly in front of the other to keep yourself steady (figure 12).
- Use open hand gestures. Spread your hands apart, in front of you, with your palms facing slightly toward your audience. This indicates a willingness to communicate and share ideas (figure 13). Keep your upper arms close to your body. Take care to avoid overexpression, or people may focus more on your hands than your ideas.
If you notice your audience's concentration dip, lean slightly forward while you speak. This suggests that you're taking them into your confidence and will help to regain their attention.
3. Body Language for Interviews and Negotiations
Body language can also help you to stay calm in situations where emotions run high, such as a negotiation, performance review or interview. Follow these suggestions to defuse tension and show openness:
- Use mirroring. If you can, subtly mirror the body language of the person you're talking to. This will make them feel more at ease, and can build rapport. But don't copy their every gesture or you'll make them uncomfortable.
- Relax your body. Maintain the appearance of calm by keeping your hands still and by breathing slowly.
- Look interested. If you're asked a complex question, it's OK to briefly touch your cheek or stroke your chin. It shows you're reflecting on your answer (see figure 14).
Body language expert Amy Cuddy recommends striking a "power pose" for two minutes, in private, before a stressful situation. It tricks your body's hormone levels so you feel more confident and less stressed. Her mantra is, "Fake it till you become it." Mind Tools Club members and corporate licensees can read our full review of her book "Presence" here.
Virtual Body Language
You can apply much of the body language guidance above to video calls, too. You'll just have a little less space – and body – to work with! Here are some ways to show your enthusiasm, and to help make others feel comfortable and receptive to your ideas:
- Get your camera setup right. This means you're close enough to show interest, but not too close to invade people's virtual space. Check that your camera is at eye level, so that your gaze appears natural to others. And leave room to gesture without hitting the screen!
- Maintain eye contact. Look into the camera as if you're looking into someone's eyes. If it's a group call, looking around the participants will let you watch without staring.
- Use facial expressions. Your face is front and center on a video call, so maintain a slight smile throughout. Raise your eyebrows to show engagement, and avoid frowning.
How Do You Use Your Body Language?
The tips given in this article are a good general guide for interpreting body language, but they won't apply to everyone.
For example, people may have a different cultural background from you, and positive gestures in one country can be negative in others.
So, reflect on how you use your body language, and avoid making assumptions. If you're getting mixed signs from someone, ask them what they're thinking. After all, interpreting body language should be a complement to talking and listening attentively, not a replacement for it.
Body language is a range of nonverbal signals that you can use to communicate your feelings and intentions. These include your posture, facial expressions, and hand gestures.
Your ability to understand and interpret other people's body language can help you to pick up on unspoken issues or feelings.
You can also use body language in a positive way to add strength to your own verbal messages – both in person and on screen. This is particularly important when you’re meeting people for the first time, speaking in public, or taking part in interviews or negotiations.
Click on the thumbnail below to get our Body Language animated infographic:
Photographs in this article © Mind Tools/Toby Phillips.
Examples of Positive and Negative Body Language
Feb 22, 2022 - Dom Barnard
Communication consists of far more than just the words we say. During our conversations, and even when we're not speaking at all, our postures, gestures, and facial expressions offer others an additional insight into what we are thinking.
These non-verbal cues continually happen when people interact. They can be both positive and negative and can be knowingly or unconsciously given.
Body language in the workplace
To work effectively with people, it's important to be able to look past what you hear and to recognize cues in your colleagues’ body language. It's also helpful for you to know which examples of body language you display to others, and how these might affect your professional relationships.
- Body Language: Online Course with Examples and Practice
Positive body language
Displaying positive body language can help to strengthen relationships with others, lead them to more willingly trust what you are saying, and allow them to feel respected and heard by you.
Here are some examples of positive body language and what their use can mean.
1. Open hands with palms facing up
If someone makes a gesture of open hands it can indicate that they are open and honest as a person. This gesture can be used to emphasize the importance of what is being said, or simply to show that the person making the gesture is approachable and welcomes other people to speak to them.
Turning the palms to face upwards with the hands open in this way can also indicate submission. Historically, a gesture of open hands showing the palms was intended to demonstrate that no weapons were being carried or concealed. Therefore opening your hands can show that you are not a threat and that you are ready to have a conversation.
2. Standing up straight
Standing up straight shows confidence and self-belief. If you stand up straight people will believe that you are capable in your role and that you know what you’re doing. They will feel more comfortable coming to you for help and may see you as being approachable in general.
When a straight stance is relaxed and is combined with facing openly towards the people you are in conversation with, it demonstrates that you are self-assured and that you are listening to them with respect.
3. Eye contact
Eye contact can be used positively to show confidence, trust and to promote open conversation. If you regularly look someone in the eye during a conversation it shows that you mean what you are saying. It can also be used as a turn-taking cue to show that you are ready to hear what the other person has to say.
It's important during conversation to break eye contact at intervals to show that you are respectful and that you do not present a threat.
It is usual to look away more while you are talking and to make more regular direct eye contact when listening to the other person to show that you are being attentive to their thoughts.
4. Nodding or tilting the head to the side
Nodding while someone speaks shows that you are focused on what they are saying and are listening respectfully to them. It can show that you agree with what they are saying or just that you are acknowledging that their thoughts or opinions are valid.
Tilting the head to the side shows again that you are listening attentively and that you are considering what they say with respect, whether you agree or disagree with them. Nodding and tilting the head during conversations are positive and respectful gestures that indicate approachability and openness.
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Smiling at someone shows that you are friendly, open, approachable, and likable. It also shows that you like and respect the person you’re smiling at and will help to strengthen both personal and professional relationships.
When you smile at someone it can indicate that you are attentively listening and this can encourage friends or colleagues to be more confident about sharing their opinions or suggestions with you. Of course, the smile should be natural and not come across as nervous or forced.
People who smile genuinely and who come across as being approachable are likely to be more successful working within a team, as they will be regarded as likable and respectful.
People will be more likely to be willing to discuss problems with someone approachable, which will lead to more productive discussions and better resolution of issues.
Negative body language
Negative body language can be damaging for professional and personal relationships as its use can indicate defensive feelings, lack of interest in the other person, or dishonesty.
Negative body language can be used unintentionally and can betray what you think about what you are saying or about the person you’re speaking to. Here are some examples of negative body language to look out for or to try and avoid using with others.
1. Arms crossed
Crossing the arms over the chest is considered a defensive posture. It shows that you are closed off and unwilling to enter into a discussion with someone, almost as if you are drawing a firm line under a conversation or cutting it off before it begins.
This might be because of a lack of confidence in your thoughts or abilities, or it could show that you are unwilling to listen to others.
Someone with crossed arms gives the impression that they disagree with the person they are in conversation with. It shows an unwillingness to have their opinions changed and can make them seem quite unapproachable.
2. Finger or foot-tapping
Tapping the fingers or feet can indicate impatience, boredom, or anxiety on the part of the tapper. If you tap your fingers while having a conversation with someone, they might get the impression that you don’t have time for them, or that you want the discussion to be over.
It can seem that you're not listening at all. Tapping the feet can give the same impression to others, and it can also lead them to see you as being nervous, jumpy, or lacking in confidence.
3. Legs crossed
Crossing the legs, much like crossing the arms, can be perceived as a defensive posture. If someone crosses their legs at the ankles during a conversation, it can indicate dishonesty or insecurity and may lead the person they are speaking with to have difficulty trusting them or having confidence in what they are saying.
Crossing the legs at the knees can also give the impression of a lack of confidence or of being closed off from the conversation.
If the crossed legs are also then pointed away from the other person it can indicate quite a strong discomfort either with the topic of the conversation or with them personally.
4. Avoiding eye contact
While it can appear threatening to maintain continuous eye contact or stare at someone, avoiding eye contact altogether is certainly not a positive gesture. If you avoid eye contact when talking with or working alongside someone, it can indicate that you lack confidence or that you have something to hide.
Avoiding eye contact sends a clear message that you are not open to conversation and that you don’t have respect for or interest in what others might have to say.
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It might seem obvious that frowning is an example of negative body language and should be avoided. However, people often frown without realizing they are doing it, if they are lost in thought or concentrating on what is being said, for example.
It doesn’t necessarily mean they are angry or upset, even though it might look like it. For many people, frowning occurs when they are listening intently, and so is not intended to be negative at all.
It's therefore important to be aware of your facial expressions and to check in with yourself when you’re listening to others to see if this is something you do.
Bear in mind too that if someone is frowning at you while you are speaking they might not mean to give the impression that they are cross or dislike what you’re saying. They might be very interested in your point of view and be considering it thoughtfully.
Using body language to your advantage
Being aware of body language and facial expressions and what they can mean when interacting with other people is important, both personally and professionally. It's also worth bearing in mind that somebody language cues differ in their meaning in different cultures and that sometimes it is possible to misread the meaning behind some gestures.
Understanding the body language cues of others, however, can help you to understand and work with them more effectively, as you’ll be able to see when they might be feeling uncomfortable, for example, or when they are confident in their setting or their relationships.
Being self-aware is also helpful, as you can monitor and adapt your gestures and expressions to make yourself more approachable to others, show them that you respect them, and mark yourself as a good listener and team player. Being knowledgeable about both positive and negative body language cues can certainly work to your advantage.
Body language: 13 gestures and postures of self-confidence
Why don't we focus on postures and gestures in different situations? They can tell a lot about a person's character. If you need it, this article will help you acquire the gestures and postures of confidence.
If you're wondering if you're confident in body language, do the following (as a mini test):
- Notice how you sit or stand.
- Where are your hands?
- What expression do you have on your face?
- If someone were to walk into the room now, what conclusions could they draw about you based on your body language?
Each person has their own body language, set of gestures and their own postures, including for self-confidence. A large percentage of communication and how people perceive us depends on our body language.
According to pioneering research by psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian, body language makes up 55% of communication.
Body language includes postures, gestures, facial expressions and eye movements. Your body language can reveal your true feelings, intentions, or level of self-confidence.
You may be feeling tired, angry, bored, frustrated, or enthusiastic right now, but some of these feelings may not be the feelings you want to express in this situation. Do you really want your boss to read your body language, which shows that you are tired of his monologue?
Why and how to appear more confident?
You may wonder why you "appear" more confident when looks don't really matter. Why should you care so much about what your body language says?
Because looks matter whether we like it or not, and how you communicate with your body is of the utmost importance for your self-confidence and ultimate success in life.
You can improve your self-confidence by better understanding and managing your body language.
By adjusting postures and gestures, and by sending other appropriate signals in certain situations, you receive positive feedback from those around you. You feel confident that you are not sabotaging your success by neglecting the opinions of others.
What's in this article:
- Why and how to appear more confident?
- 13 tips for self-confidence gestures and postures
- Practice smiling
- Pay attention to the pose
- Use Amy Cuddy's Confidence Poses
- Encourage the use of body language
- Be mindful of your arms and legs
- Shake hands firmly
- Dress for confidence
- Stop fussing
- Use appropriate eye contact
- Move confidently
- Watch your feet
- Take a seat
- Chin up
- Examples of unsafe body language
- How will you practice these postures and gestures of confidence?
More importantly, when you use strong positive body language, you send messages to your brain to build confidence. Body language actually makes you feel more confident and appear more authoritative in the eyes of others.
Let's look at ways you can change your physical appearance to appear more confident and resilient.
13 tips for gestures and postures of self-confidence
Smiling not only makes you more attractive and trustworthy, but also improves your health, reduces stress and increases your positive feelings about yourself.
Smiling slows the heart and relaxes the body, and releases endorphins that counteract and reduce stress hormones. It has also been shown to increase productivity when performing tasks.
According to several studies, smiling can make your brain feel happy, even if you're sad.
Actions: when you wake up in the morning, stand in front of a mirror and smile at yourself. Yes, you will feel stupid, but practice smiling at yourself for two minutes.
When you are in a car or alone at your desk, practice smiling. Be aware of the effect of smiling on other people and remind yourself to smile more often at others.
Pay attention to the pose
Practice one of the poses of confidence - correct posture, when your sitting or standing position places the least strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments. When you are sitting, your back should be straight and resting against the back of the chair, your feet should be on the floor, and your knees should be bent at a right angle.
While standing, you should be able to draw an imaginary straight line from the earlobe over the shoulder, thigh, knee and middle of the ankle. Good posture is essential to prevent back and neck pain, prevent muscle pain, and maintain proper bone and joint alignment.
Any breathing practice familiar to you will ensure correct breathing, which will allow all your organs and tissues to function normally. Good posture also reflects confident behavior towards other people. When you stand straight, with your shoulders back and your head held high, you look confident and balanced.
Actions: Pay attention to your posture right now as you read this article. Do you sit in a chair with your back bent, neck forward and shoulders hunched? Try to sit or stand with correct posture.
Look at yourself in the mirror and correct the correct position of your body. Wear a rubber band or other reminder around your wrist to stand or sit up straight.
Ask a family member to look at your posture and comment when it is not successful.
Before entering a room with people or a meeting, assume an assertive posture.
Use Confidence Poses Amy Cuddy
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, in her 2012 TED talk, showed that a certain standing or sitting position in just two minutes increases testosterone levels and lowers cortisol (the stress hormone).
These confidence postures can affect your productivity as well as your success at work, with clients, and in your relationships. In many poses, you open your body and fill the empty space, which makes you feel more confident and stronger.
According to the psychologist, "the study has broad implications for people who suffer from feelings of powerlessness and low self-esteem because of their social status or lack of funds."
Actions: watch Amy Cuddy's TED talk on body language. Notice the different postures of confidence. You can also read this article to see photos of people in these poses.
Choose two or three postures that you could practice on your own and in professional situations where you want to express yourself and feel powerful. Practice these poses every day for several weeks until they feel natural.
Encourage the use of body language
Actively use body language when trying to reach an agreement, win over a girl, convince someone to take your side. Proper use of body language gives you more confidence and sends persuasive signals to other people.
Engaged body language involves using correct posture, open gestures, smiling and nodding, and copying the other person's expressions and movements. Only in this way will you achieve your goal, make a deal, shake hands tightly, say "thank you".
Actions: think of upcoming situations in which you want to reach an agreement or change someone's mind. Practice beforehand in front of a mirror using postures and gestures of confidence.
Be mindful of your arms and legs
Crossing your arms suggests you feel defensive and closed off. If you cross your legs while in the company of another person, this may mean that you do not like him, or you feel uncomfortable.
Crossing your ankles can signal that you are holding something back and not expressing it (or you are a woman who uses this posture as "feminine").
Putting your hands behind your back can mean you are bored, worried, or even angry. Folded arms and crossed at the genitals is a self-soothing gesture that shows vulnerability or shyness. Finger tapping and fidgeting tells others that you are bored, impatient, or frustrated.
Actions: start paying attention to what you are doing with your hands and feet in certain situations. Notice how you feel when you cross your arms and/or legs. What is the other person saying or doing, and why might you feel insecure or closed off?
Begin to change the position of the arms and legs. Place your hands on your knees when you are sitting and beside you when you are standing. Crossing your knees for comfort is fine, unless it's combined with crossed arms.
Shake hands firmly
A firm handshake is a universal gesture of confidence, and everyone should have it, including women. The handshake should be strong enough, but not crushing, offered with a cool dry hand and a few up and down wiggles and a few seconds of eye contact.
This is a sign of mutual respect on both sides and makes a good first impression. The sweaty, sluggish handshake of a "dead fish" has the opposite effect. Whether you feel confident or not, a firm handshake is a gesture of confidence that will heighten your feelings and make others see you as more confident.
Actions: Ask a few people you trust to rate your handshake. Ask them to note your grip, the feel of your palms, whether you shake their hand correctly, and whether you make eye contact.
Record their feedback and practice the new handshake with people you don't know.
Dress for confidence
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, subjects who wore doctors' lab coats scored higher on attentional tasks than those who did not.
Clothing really affects how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. Dressing confidently is more than wearing the most fashionable clothes - it is one of the gestures of self-confidence. It's about feeling good, looking balanced, being confident and having a confident posture in any situation.
It is also about giving the right message to the people you are in contact with. You can boost your confidence by dressing appropriately for the occasion, getting to know your audience, reflecting your personal style, and understanding the influence of color.
Actions: Does your wardrobe add to your confidence or diminish it? Do you often wear sloppy clothes or are dressed inappropriately for the occasion? The right clothes will give you confidence even when you feel down.
Find your personal style by browsing magazines or blogs to see what you like. Read articles to learn about the impact of wearing certain colors. If necessary, buy a few classic pieces to add to your wardrobe.
In a survey, recruitment managers said that a fifth of the candidates they turned down for positions were fussy. They felt that this was indicative of insecurity and unpreparedness for the interview.
Fussiness, such as curling hair around a finger, shaking one's foot, or biting one's nails, is an obvious sign of restlessness and nervous body language. These nervous movements distract attention from what you are saying and distract people from your message.
Do not touch your face or neck as this also indicates that you are feeling anxious. Your hustle and bustle makes it clear that you are unsure of yourself.
Actions: do you regularly fuss? Have people told you that you have this behavior? Start paying attention to how you fuss and what triggers those actions. Think about what you can do to replace that jittery body language when you hit your next trigger.
You can keep your hands on your knees, gesticulate with your hands when you speak, or hold a pen and notepad. If you are shaking your leg or knee, place both feet on the floor. When you feel the urge to fuss and get nervous, take a few deep, calming breaths.
Use appropriate eye contact
Eye contact is a very important gesture of confidence and indicates that you are honest, sociable and ready to communicate. A confident look creates a sense of closeness in your communication and makes the other person feel more positive and connected to you.
However, too much eye contact can signal that you are aggressive or maybe even a little weird.
How to recognize a lie by facial expressions and gestures of a person?
When eye contact shifts from one gaze to another gaze, it causes people discomfort and actually activates their sympathetic nervous system. For eye contact to be enjoyable, one person must not impose their visual will on another, this is common knowledge.
Action: If you feel uncomfortable with eye contact, start getting used to activities with family and friends. Ideally, make eye contact for about 50-60 percent of the conversation.
When you break eye contact, look away, not down. Looking down signals low status, shame and/or submission. As you become more confident in making eye contact with family and friends, practice gestures and postures of confidence with people at work or in public places.
There is a difference between being nervous and moving with confident gestures and postures around a room or stage.
If you stand like a statue when you speak, you look stiff and uncomfortable. But if you can take a few steps away from the podium or your chair, you will show that you own the decor in the room, not it owns you.
Actions : Confident speakers can move freely and naturally to point at something during a presentation or to approach other people in the room.
Practice using motion confidence gestures and postures in this way in a more informal setting to gain confidence.
Of course, you don't want these poses and gestures of confidence in motion to look staged and clumsy. Movement just to show what you can do is not the goal. Move with purpose, to show you are comfortable in the environment.
Watch your feet
We subconsciously tend to point the toe of our shoes at the leader of a group or a person we like. If we are waiting to get out or feel uncomfortable, our feet point towards the door.
Actions: to indicate that you are participating in a conversation or that you are interested in the people you are talking to, point your feet in their direction.
Take a seat
When you enter a room or a social event, do not let your nerves show up by physically shutting yourself up and taking up as little space as possible. You may feel like you want to disappear, but your body needs to communicate differently.
Even if you feel uncomfortable, try to pretend that you are the person everyone has been waiting for. Not defiantly twitching, but as if "I feel so comfortable here."
Actions: is one of the exercises that will allow you to develop gestures and postures of confidence. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms uncrossed. If you are sitting, plant your feet firmly on the ground and lean back as if you were at a good friend's house.
A chin can say a lot about a person's character, literally and figuratively. When you are talking, walking around the room, or listening to other people, keep your chin slightly elevated when standing or sitting straight. Become present in the room by pretending to be a proud lion, not an ostrich trying to hide its head.
Actions: hold your head up high and let this confidence posture of yours reinforce a positive attitude that also works for others.
Examples of unsafe body language
Now you know how to build confidence with gestures, postures and body movements, but let's reinforce what you want to avoid with body language.
So, some unsafe body language habits to get rid of:
- Lack of eye contact
- Chin down
- Slouching shoulders
- Crossed arms
- Turning away from the interlocutor
- Shaking legs
- Licking lips
- Hands in pockets or otherwise hidden
- Biting nails
- Hand wringing or shaking hands
- Stiff face or unhappy face
- Swing on your feet
- Take steps back
- Walk constantly while talking
If you notice any of this in yourself, the first step to change and develop the gestures and postures of confidence is awareness. Now that you're paying attention to these nervous body language behaviors, you'll be ready to find ways to change them.
Remember, when all else fails, just take a deep breath, straighten up and smile. These three steps will immediately bring you to a more calm and balanced state.
How will you practice these postures and gestures of confidence?
You don't have to wait for a professional or social occasion to work on the skills of acquiring the gestures and postures of confidence that we have described here. Practice them in a safe environment with family and friends.
Even when you are alone, remember to sit up straight, smile, walk confidently and not fuss. You can even stick stickers around the house to remind you to work on certain new habits.
The more you practice, the more confident you will be in applying these skills when you need them most.
Alan Pisa's body language. Part 1. "Best practices" of communication
Our gestures, appearance and non-verbal signals sometimes say more than words. They make up, according to various studies, 55-60% of all information that we receive through personal contact. But we, as a rule, pay attention only to the spoken words, which means that we often lose a significant part of the information. This was exactly what Alan Pease, one of the world's most famous communication and relationship specialists, known as "Mr. Body Language", at the Synergy Global Forum was dedicated to. However, if you look deeper, the interpretations of body language actively advertised by him are more like herbal and conspiracy treatment than serious medicine: maybe it will cure, or maybe it will kill - how lucky.
Alan Pease's views and messages are well known. Pease actively consults, among his clients are IBM, BBC, Mazda, Suzuki. He is the author of 17 books on communication and sales that have been translated into 54 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. His most famous book is Body Language. How to read the thoughts of others by their gestures, first published in 1978. In 2004, a new edition of it, New Body Language. Extended version"1.
Basic body language
For those who have not read Alan Pease's books, here are a few points that he highlights as the main ones.
- Non-verbal cues are an outward reflection of a person's emotional state. We are constantly interpreting or comparing a person's behavior with what they say, and based on this we try to understand what is going on in their head.
- Receptivity is the ability to notice contradictions between the words of a person and the movements and gestures he makes. The meaning of what you want to say is conveyed more by body language than by words. Gesticulation and body position show a person's emotions, what he feels, and not just what he says. Body language is 60-80% determined by the influence you have on other people during meetings. A person who relies on visual cues in face-to-face communication draws more accurate conclusions about his interlocutor than someone who relies only on words. Words can be deliberately false or not heard by us, proper body language will show your true feelings.
- Three rules for the correct interpretation of gestures:
- First rule: interpret gestures as a whole. You can understand the true meaning of a word only when you consider it in context, in relation to other words. The sequence of gestures that form "sentences" is called chains. Body language strings, like verbal sentences, must be at least three words long so that you can accurately understand the meaning of each one.
- Second rule: look for congruence2 . Pisian congruence is a complete match of body language and speech signals. If the words do not contradict body language signals, then the interlocutor is most likely telling the truth. When words and body language signals contradict each other, Alan Pease advises to ignore the words and trust the body language
- Third rule: interpret gestures in context. Obviously, human gestures depend on the environment (for example, temperature), the specific situation, clothing, physical capabilities, and even fatigue. “In addition to taking into account the totality of gestures and the correspondence between words and body movements, for the correct interpretation of gestures it is necessary to take into account the context in which these gestures live,” writes Pease in his book3.
- The difference between male and female understanding . In general, it can be said that women are more receptive to non-verbal cues than men. Men, for the most part, have little understanding of body language. Women's intuition has long been proverbial, women are three to four times better at deciphering body language. According to Pisa, it develops due to the fact that women spend a lot of time with babies and try to understand what they need before they start talking.
The meaning of what you want to say is conveyed more by body language than by words. Body language is 60-80% determined by the influence you have on other people during meetings.
Research conducted by psychologists at Harvard University has shown that women are much more attentive to body language than men. The subjects were shown short videos with the sound turned off, and then they were asked to explain what was happening on the screen. As a result, it turned out that women correctly assessed what was happening in 87% of cases, while men - only 42%. “From 14 to 16 regions of the female brain evaluate the behavior of the interlocutor, while in men there are only 4-6 such regions,” writes Pease. “That is why a woman, having come to a party, can immediately assess the relationship between the other guests: who quarreled, who is in love with whom, who recently broke up, etc.”
In general, Alan Pease is very fond of the topic of differences between men and women. Understanding body language isn't the only difference. “My wife can run a multi-million dollar business, but she can't park. And I’m the opposite, ”Pease said to the approving applause of the women in the hall. This was the starting point for women's parking lots (20% more parking space and only driving forward), which, according to him, turned out to be super popular.
Alan Pease's recommendation
Here are some of Alan Pease's specific recommendations for using body language from his book and talk. This is only a small part of what Pease advises; but it gives an idea of how he understands the practical application of body language.
- Respect the other person's privacy . Each person has their own personal space. If you move closer, the other person may lean back in their chair, or lean back, or use gestures to show their annoyance, such as tapping their fingers or clicking a pen.
- Mirror nonverbal cues. Mirroring the interlocutor's non-verbal cues and manner of speaking helps to quickly achieve mutual understanding. If you mirror your sitting position, posture, torso tilt, gestures, facial expressions, and speech style, your interlocutor will feel that there is something about you that he definitely likes, and this will facilitate communication. People will open up more and respond better to your questions.
- Smile. Studies show that it is inherent in a person to understand and perceive the smile of his interlocutor as a friendly sign, an indication that he is not dangerous. And a relationship that started well and continues to develop favorably, because we do not threaten each other. At the conference, Pease explained the mechanism of action of this sign4. He conducted experiments and artificially made people smile. As a result, it turned out that their level of the hormone oxytocin changed, which led to the fact that they felt more confident and trusted the interlocutor more. And this happened without medical interventions, only from a change in facial expression.
- Don't cross your arms. Crossed arms are perceived as an attempt to put a barrier between yourself and the interlocutor and, as a rule, lead to a shorter and more negative dialogue. With crossed arms, the listener is more critical of the words of the interlocutor and remembers less.
- Do not touch your face. Studies show that when a person withholds information or lies, they begin to touch their face very often. Pease says that this is due to increased blood pressure in the face, especially inside the nose. Therefore, never touch your face if you want to convince someone of something. Touching your lips and scratching your nose may be recognized by your interlocutor as a signal that you are lying.
- Hold hands palms up, fingers together. In this case, you show that you are not aggressive, and the interlocutors will be positive towards you. Those who clench their fingers and keep their hands under their chin during a conversation appear more powerful (influential) and receive more attention. Alan Pease describes an experiment in which eight lecturers were asked to use three gestures during speeches - an open palm, a downward palm, and an index finger along with the rest of the fingers clenched into a fist. The study found that lecturers who predominantly used hand gestures with the palm up were liked by 84% of the listeners. Those who turned their hand palm down were likable by 52% of the listeners. Least of all, those lecturers who used gestures with the index finger liked them the most; only 28% of the listeners sympathized with them6.
- Shake hands . Only a few realize what impression the interlocutors have of them after the first handshake. However, the future of the relationship is often determined in the first minutes of the meeting. The one whose hand is on top when shaking hands has more power, that one is the "boss".
- Do not put your hands in your pockets while performing . When you're speaking or giving a presentation, where do you put your hands? This is a very important gesture - the way you hold your hands. In no case do not put them in your pockets - this is a sign of your insecurity and defensive reaction. This is understandable, the fear of public speaking is understandable, it is in the first place: 60% of people on earth are afraid to speak in public (the fear of death is only in seventh place). However, at the very beginning of a public speech, show that you are confident in yourself, that you are calm and know what to do. Then there will be trust in your words, they will gain strength.
- Don't lie. If a person scratches his nose, rubs his eyes, pulls his ear and often looks away, most likely you should not believe his words. No matter how confident and convincing you sound, if you are lying, your body will send out the appropriate signals to warn others that you are deceiving them. Our subconscious acts automatically and independently of verbal deception. Non-verbal cues give us away: we begin to avoid eye contact, cover our mouths, cross our arms and legs, or touch our nose or neck. But even if you manage to consciously control and restrain these basic gestures, there will be numerous, subtle microsignals, such as muscle twitching of the face, dilation and contraction of the pupils, sweating, flushed cheeks and frequent blinking.
Is body language universal?
Can Alan Pease's recommendations be trusted? Is it possible to make serious decisions based on body language, with big consequences? The fact that our gestures and movements often betray our thoughts and feelings is not new, it has been known for a long time. The fact that a whole system of interrelated movements can be distinguished is also a well-known fact. And of course, it is important and useful to learn to read these non-verbal signs. But is it possible to directly rely on everything that Pease advises, can all this be used in work and in life?
Body language strings, like verbal sentences, must be at least three words long so that you can accurately understand the meaning of each one. They should only be interpreted collectively.
Even at the first acquaintance with his ideas, many questions and doubts arise. Unfortunately, in life everything is much more complicated, and human gestures can almost always be interpreted in different ways. If I leaned on my arm and crossed my legs, this does not mean that I was not interested in listening and I took a defensive position. I'm just tired of one pose and want to stimulate blood flow. And if I got up and began to walk around the room, this is not a sign of extreme rejection, but the habit of "thinking with my feet." And each of the readers will remember a lot of such examples.
We saw above that Alan Pease recognizes the importance of specific context in interpreting body language. But at the same time, in lectures and in his book, he constantly forgets about this and speaks of body language as universal, and interpreted almost unambiguously.
No matter how confident and persuasive you sound, if you are lying, your body will send the appropriate signals, showing others that you are deceiving them.