What Your Body Language is Saying About You

Dr. Angela Seabright
Angelina Truchan

| 3 min read

Effective verbal communication is a necessary skill to master, but nonverbal actions can be just as important.
Understanding kinesics, or how to communicate through body movement, can help you build trust and understanding with others. Here are a some common body language mistakes and how to improve them:
  1. Avoiding eye contact: If you are the receiver of a message, and you are not making eye contact, then this can indicate we are not interested in what that person has to say. If you are delivering the message, it can appear you are lacking confidence in what you are saying.
  1. Looking at your phone: This can indicate you are not interested in what is being said. It is telling the other person that whatever is on your phone is more important than what they have to say. Furthermore, if you are checking the time on your phone, it sends the same message.
  1. Inconsistent expressions: Unconsciously, we are constantly monitoring the facial expressions of those we communicate with. If you are delivering sad news with a big smile on your face, then this could cause people to be confused with your message. It could also lead to a decrease in trust level.
  1. Yawning: Sometimes, we can’t help but yawn. Be sure to excuse yourself so the people you’re communicating with don’t feel like you are uninterested or bored with the conversation.
  1. Poor posture: This can indicate a lack of confidence as well as a lack of interest. It gives the impression to others that you are unsure of yourself or would rather not be where you are at the present moment.
  1. Unfriendly facial expressions: Although you should feel free to wear whatever expression you’d like when you’re running errands, working out or generally living your life, consider the vibe you’re giving off when you’re at work. If your face at rest tends toward a perma-scowl, consider becoming more conscious of your facial expressions during meetings and when you’re interacting with colleagues. This signals to others that you are approachable.
  1. Fidgeting: Not only can your fidgeting make others around you nervous, it can give off the idea that you are nervous. Try to stay still when conversing with someone. They will receive your message more effectively.
  1. Pointing: Many of us were taught as children that it’s rude to point, and in fact, it is. Pointing at someone when you are speaking to them could make them feel like they are to blame for something
  1. Excessive nodding: Although occasional nodding can be affirming to show you understand what the speaker is saying, too much is not good. This could give off the appearance that you are too agreeable.
  1. Hiding your hands: You do not want people to think you have something to hide or can’t be trusted. You should keep your hands relaxed and not in your pockets or behind your back.
If any of the items on this list struck a nerve, you can always work to improve how you present yourself to the world. Learning the importance of body language can help improve your communication skills and being conscious of how you carry yourself will help you build a better sense of trust and understanding with others.
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Photo credit: Angelina Truchan

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