Is Your Body Language Undercutting Your Words?

By Sandy Schroeder

Sometimes what we say, and what our body says, fail to connect.  A raised eyebrow, small shrug, or sly smile can quickly say way more than a volley of words.

When we learn how to scrutinize the body language of others, it’s like opening a secret door. If you look around, you may see all sorts of body language contradicting the owners’ words.

Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, an agency that services many Fortune 500 companies, tells us it can be crucial to know what your body language is saying before it trips you. At the same time, it can be invaluable to read the body cues of others to get the complete picture.

Here are some body language cues to be on the lookout for; have you ever spotted them?

Mixed Messages – If your words and your expressions contradict each other, people may question what you are saying. Jittery motions, or forced smiles, may undermine your sincereity.

Dramatic Moves – We have all seen speakers wave their arms, or pound the table. Sometimes their motions make their words less believable. In contrast, small controlled movements can send a message of honesty and reliability.

Staring or Glaring – Avoid focusing too intently or frowning. Instead maintain an open gaze and respond to the message.

Folded Arms – When a person crosses their arms it can be like closing a door. No matter what is said, the visual image can be a barrier that undercuts the message.

Indirect Focus – People who look over your head or off to the side may seem disinterested. When you interact with others, lean forward and focus on the individual to maintain the connection.

Posture Power – If you stand up straight, and speak up, you project power. If you slump, or slouch, you may appear ineffective or signal disinterest.

Distracting Signals – Checking your phone, shuffling papers, or shifting in your chair can imply disinterest and disrespect.

Overreacting – Using lots of nods, applause or other signals may be genuine enthusiasm, but it can distract from the speaker.

Silent Signals – Raised eyebrows or rolled eyes convey a negative reaction and may undermine your credibility too.

When you are the speaker, you may see many body language cues in your audience. You might spot people who deliberately sit in the back of the room, or close to the door. Others may group together with friends and trade comments. The more you do to speak directly to everyone with a calm, deliberate confidence, the stronger your message.

When you learn to read body language, keep building on the skill. The more you know the better.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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