Body Language – Video
When you know how to interpret body language, you can discover what people are really thinking.
Welcome to Mind Tools' video learning series.
You may not realize it, but you send out silent, nonverbal signals to people every day. This is your body language, and it can reveal how you're truly feeling when, perhaps, your words don't.
Body language might include your facial expression, your hand movements, or your posture.
Most of the time, it's unconscious. But there are some clues that can help you to interpret and use it to your advantage.
Being aware of other people's negative body language is particularly useful, and can help you to pick up on unspoken problems.
For example, if someone you're speaking to is standing or sitting with his arms folded tightly across his body, he's probably not happy with what you're saying.
Other negative signs to watch out for include tense facial expressions, someone turning his body away from you, or avoiding eye contact.
Your own body language should reinforce what you're trying to communicate verbally. Otherwise, you risk sending mixed signals.
With the right body language, you can convey openness, confidence and receptiveness.
For example, you can make a confident and positive first impression by standing with an open posture that's relaxed and upright, and by keeping your hands down by your sides.
Maintain solid eye contact with the person you're speaking to, and try to hold her gaze for a few seconds at a time. This will show her that you're sincere and alert.
Adopting positive body language can also help when you're speaking in public.
For example, you'll look more confident if you keep your shoulders back and maintain an upright but relaxed posture, keeping your weight evenly distributed, with one foot slightly in front of the other.
Hand movements can also help. For example, spreading your hands apart in front of you, with your palms facing slightly toward your audience, can indicate a willingness to communicate and share ideas.
At the same time, it's important to maintain control! Too much hand movement can distract from what you're saying.
To find out more about how to interpret body language and use it to your advantage, read the article that accompanies this video.