Understanding Body Language

Posted Sep 25, 2017

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Summary

  • Tune in to your audience.
  • Be aware of the signals you’re sending.
  • Consider the environment and other circumstances. 

Do you catch yourself crossing your arms tightly when you’re angry? Are you insulted when a friend glances at her phone while you’re telling her about your day? We often unknowingly communicate our feelings with our gestures and facial expressions. But sometimes crossed arms simply mean you’re cold. Being aware of the unspoken messages we send and receive—and learning to interpret them correctly, will make communicating easier.

Reacting to other people’s body language

Body language includes facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact, gestures, touch, and how people position themselves in relation to one another. Here are ways to understand what people are communicating with their nonverbal behavior.

  • “Tune in” to your audience. Look for signs that the person you’re talking with is interested in what you’re saying. Is he making eye contact? Nodding in agreement?
  • Don’t be afraid to check in about the nonverbal signals you’re getting. Ask the person who keeps glancing at her phone whether she’s expecting an important message. If she says she isn’t, that might be a sign to wrap up the conversation.
  • Consider the environment and circumstances before jumping to conclusions about nonverbal behavior. The yawns and slumped sitting positions at your meeting might be a sign that the room is overheated. Or it might mean that you should work on your presentation skills.

Be aware of your own body language

Try to be aware of the signals you’re sending to someone you’re talking to:

  • Face the person. You may signal disinterest if you angle your body away, look around the room, or busy yourself with other things, such as shuffling papers.
  • Be aware of your body. Crossed arms and legs may tell someone you’re closed off to what he has to say. Keep your arms at your side or your hands folded in your lap.
  • Show a connection by “mirroring” her stance and gestures. Lean in if she does; smile if she does. Just don’t take it to the extreme so it looks like you’re mimicking her.

Most people are pretty good about reading body language, but it’s not foolproof. Before jumping to conclusions about how someone else feels, take into consideration the environment, cultural differences, and what else might be going on in that person’s life. At the same time, make an effort to come across as interested and engaged in what others are saying to you. 

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.

Summary

  • Tune in to your audience.
  • Be aware of the signals you’re sending.
  • Consider the environment and other circumstances. 

Do you catch yourself crossing your arms tightly when you’re angry? Are you insulted when a friend glances at her phone while you’re telling her about your day? We often unknowingly communicate our feelings with our gestures and facial expressions. But sometimes crossed arms simply mean you’re cold. Being aware of the unspoken messages we send and receive—and learning to interpret them correctly, will make communicating easier.

Reacting to other people’s body language

Body language includes facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact, gestures, touch, and how people position themselves in relation to one another. Here are ways to understand what people are communicating with their nonverbal behavior.

  • “Tune in” to your audience. Look for signs that the person you’re talking with is interested in what you’re saying. Is he making eye contact? Nodding in agreement?
  • Don’t be afraid to check in about the nonverbal signals you’re getting. Ask the person who keeps glancing at her phone whether she’s expecting an important message. If she says she isn’t, that might be a sign to wrap up the conversation.
  • Consider the environment and circumstances before jumping to conclusions about nonverbal behavior. The yawns and slumped sitting positions at your meeting might be a sign that the room is overheated. Or it might mean that you should work on your presentation skills.

Be aware of your own body language

Try to be aware of the signals you’re sending to someone you’re talking to:

  • Face the person. You may signal disinterest if you angle your body away, look around the room, or busy yourself with other things, such as shuffling papers.
  • Be aware of your body. Crossed arms and legs may tell someone you’re closed off to what he has to say. Keep your arms at your side or your hands folded in your lap.
  • Show a connection by “mirroring” her stance and gestures. Lean in if she does; smile if she does. Just don’t take it to the extreme so it looks like you’re mimicking her.

Most people are pretty good about reading body language, but it’s not foolproof. Before jumping to conclusions about how someone else feels, take into consideration the environment, cultural differences, and what else might be going on in that person’s life. At the same time, make an effort to come across as interested and engaged in what others are saying to you. 

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.

Summary

  • Tune in to your audience.
  • Be aware of the signals you’re sending.
  • Consider the environment and other circumstances. 

Do you catch yourself crossing your arms tightly when you’re angry? Are you insulted when a friend glances at her phone while you’re telling her about your day? We often unknowingly communicate our feelings with our gestures and facial expressions. But sometimes crossed arms simply mean you’re cold. Being aware of the unspoken messages we send and receive—and learning to interpret them correctly, will make communicating easier.

Reacting to other people’s body language

Body language includes facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact, gestures, touch, and how people position themselves in relation to one another. Here are ways to understand what people are communicating with their nonverbal behavior.

  • “Tune in” to your audience. Look for signs that the person you’re talking with is interested in what you’re saying. Is he making eye contact? Nodding in agreement?
  • Don’t be afraid to check in about the nonverbal signals you’re getting. Ask the person who keeps glancing at her phone whether she’s expecting an important message. If she says she isn’t, that might be a sign to wrap up the conversation.
  • Consider the environment and circumstances before jumping to conclusions about nonverbal behavior. The yawns and slumped sitting positions at your meeting might be a sign that the room is overheated. Or it might mean that you should work on your presentation skills.

Be aware of your own body language

Try to be aware of the signals you’re sending to someone you’re talking to:

  • Face the person. You may signal disinterest if you angle your body away, look around the room, or busy yourself with other things, such as shuffling papers.
  • Be aware of your body. Crossed arms and legs may tell someone you’re closed off to what he has to say. Keep your arms at your side or your hands folded in your lap.
  • Show a connection by “mirroring” her stance and gestures. Lean in if she does; smile if she does. Just don’t take it to the extreme so it looks like you’re mimicking her.

Most people are pretty good about reading body language, but it’s not foolproof. Before jumping to conclusions about how someone else feels, take into consideration the environment, cultural differences, and what else might be going on in that person’s life. At the same time, make an effort to come across as interested and engaged in what others are saying to you. 

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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