Would you believe that in real life situations, 60% to 80% of the messages
that we convey to other people are transmitted through body language and the
actual verbal communication accounts for only 7% to 10%?
Our ability to use body language in a positive way and to read other
people's minds through their body language separates the men from the boys (or
women from girls), and can be a powerful tool to our overall personality
development. Imagine creating a great impression for work, business, and love
by being knowledgeable in this not-so-common yet powerful field of study. It is
the unspoken tool to a successful life.
So read on and find out how you can read and utilize body language - the
most used yet most misunderstood secret language in the world.
We use body language everyday in our lives to get our message across,
to achieve positive feedback in our lives, and to get whatever we want. We use
this language all the time, but we may not be aware of it. Moreover, this language
doesn't only involve the mouth but the whole body as well.
Could you even imagine the awesome power of applying it? With it, you'll
be able to interpret other people's inner emotions even if they're not directly
expressing it. You'll also be able to modify your behavior to fit the situation. You'll
get them to like and trust you. What words cannot do, body language can.
Here are some of the movements exhibited by people who are interested
in what you are saying:
- They maintain eye contact more than 60% of the time. The more wideopened
the eyes are, the more interested the person is. In fact, a
person maintains eye contact more when listening than when talking.
- Their heads are inclined forward.
- They are nodding their heads. Such action means that they're agreeing
with you. That means they're attentive and listening.
- Their feet are pointing towards you.
- They smile frequently. But take note, not all smiles convey the same
feeling. An oblong smile is not genuine. It is used to show courtesy, but
not necessarily happiness or friendliness. The lips are withheld
completely back from the upper and lower teeth, forming the oblong
shape. This is usually the smile that many people exhibit when they
feign to enjoy a lame joke.
There are certain hints to indicate if people are more receptive in
accepting your ideas. Some of these are:
- Their hands are flat on the table.
- Their palms are open.
- If they're stroking their chin, they're thinking. They may agree with you
after careful evaluation.
- Their heads are inclined forward.
- They are nodding their heads.
- Their legs are spaced out from each other.
- They smile frequently.
- They unbutton their jackets. This indicates friendliness and willingness
to collaborate with you.
- Their hands are open. This also indicates genuineness.
- They place their hands in their chest. This signifies openness and
conveys sincerity, honesty, or dedication. However, a woman putting
her hands in her breast is a defensive position and may indicate that
she is surprised or astonished.
People think all the time. But different individuals make different body
movements based on the type and intensity of their thinking. Some of their
actions are written below:
- Theyre stroking their chin. This means they are assessing the
advantages and disadvantages of the proposal/idea being presented.
- They take their glasses off, after which they may either (1) clean them,
or (2) put the tip of the frame in their mouth. They are buying
themselves some time to think things over. A frame in the mouth would
also likely indicate that they need more details and they are willing to
- They are pinching the bridge of the nose most likely with eyes closed.
People doing this are engaged in very deep thought. They may be
involved in a difficult situation, where they are aware of the
consequences that may occur as a result of making crucial decisions.
- They put a palm below the chin, index finger pointed and extended
along the cheek, while other fingers placed beneath the mouth. This
gesture more likely indicates thoughts that are criticizing or
antagonizing other people.
- They walk with the head down and hands behind the back. People who
walk this way are probably worried about their problems, and they are
thinking of ways to solve them.
A basketball coach whose team loses by a point may say Aaarrrrrrr! or
he may just keep quiet while making certain body movements that indicate how
disappointed he is. Here are some hints that indicate frustration.
- They are scratching/rubbing the hair or the back of the neck.
- You often hear the word Tsk.
- They kick the dust or air.
- People who are goal-oriented and highly motivated may not only be
recognized by how they speak. Their actions actually speak louder.
- They walk at a fast rate while swinging their arms loosely.
- They put their hands on their hips, usually with legs apart.
- They walk with hands on their hips. This may indicate a spurt of vitality
at the moment, but may be followed by sluggishness.
- The mouth might keep a secret, but certain gestures could indicate that
people are hiding something they dont want others to find out, such as:
- They walk with their hands in their pockets.
- They cross their arms.
- They hide their hands any way they can.
Imagine your boss is doing a presentation and all employees are required
to listen. You noticed that many of them are clicking their pen, tapping their feet,
and drumming their fingers. After the meeting, you hear the boss ask them, Did
you enjoy the presentation? They would say Definitely! But you know better.
Their actions indicate just how bored they are. It feels good to know body
language, doesnt it?
Some signals conveyed by people who are bored and disinterested
- Head supported by the palm, often accompanied by drooping eyes.
- They show inattentiveness by staring at a blank space (eyes not
blinking) or by looking around frequently.
- They are pulling their ears. This may also signify that they want to
interrupt while another person is talking.
- They are clicking a pen non-stop.
- They are tapping their hands or feet.
- They yawn incessantly.
- Their feet or other body parts are pointing to the exit, as if they are very
eager to leave.
- They move restlessly in their seats. This could also mean that they are
not cozy or at ease, or they might just be exhausted.
- They cross their legs and constantly kick their foot in a very slight
motion (particularly done by females).
exhibit authority or dominance usually come out on top because they subconsciously
make other people feel weaker. So how do they move?
- They maintain firm eye contact and rarely looks on other body parts
underneath the nose.
- They speak with a low-pitched, slow-paced, downward-inflected voice.
- Chin tilted upwards.
- Chest projected outwards.
- They maintain an erect posture, whether standing or sitting.
- They sit in reverse, with the back of the chair serving as their support
or shield. People who sit in this position are known to be bossy and
- Their hands are clenched behind the back.
- Their hands are placed beside the hips.
- Their feet are on top of the table.
- They have a firm handshake, palms pointing downwards.
- They lean back with both hands supporting the head.
- They move with precision and with no hesitation.
- They walk solidly with forceful arm swings.
- They join the fingertips of both hands together (small finger of both
hands joined together, ring finger of both hands joined together, and so
on). Palms of both hands are not in contact with each other. The higher
the hands are elevated, the more confident they are.
- They extend one leg over the arm of a chair theyre sitting in. When
they do this, it may also mean that they are apathetic, disinterested, or
unconcerned. They may be exhibiting the I dont care attitude.
Signals Of Nervousness/Tension
Nervousness can be a turn-off. If youre going to be interviewed in a
television show (hey, who knows?), you should be aware of your body
movements. Signals conveyed by nervous people include:
- Their fists are clenched.
- Their hands or feet are tapping.
- The bottom edges between the fingers of one hand are clenched with
the bottom edges between the fingers of the other hand. This is the
position of the hands when praying.
- Hands are interlocked (flesh between thumb and index finger of one
hand joined with flesh between thumb and index finger of another
hand) and pressing each other.
- They speak in a high-pitched, fast-paced, stuttering voice.
- They whistle to conceal and fight their nervousness.
- They are often clearing their throat.
- One hand is clutching the other hand, wrist, arm, or elbow.
- Their arms are at the back, where one hand is pressing the wrist or
- Their arms are crossed, but they are gripping their biceps.
- Their legs are crossed while standing.
- They have a wilted handshake, palms pointing upwards.
- Their eyes evade you.
- Their ankles are locked or glued to each other. When accompanied by
clenched fists, this may indicate that they are holding back strong
emotions or feelings.
- They dont smoke. What?!? You thought people smoke because
theyre nervous. But it is in fact the opposite. People who smoke only
do so when they are not tensed in any way.
When you hear them say Whew, it means they are previously nervous
but are now relieved because their problems have been solved or they have
survived a big challenge.
People lie for a variety of reasons. It may be to cover up a fault or
embarrassment, to avoid upsetting other people, to encourage when no hope
can be perceived, or to be spared from petty hassles. It may also be due to more
serious psychological problems such as delusional imaging or extreme vanity.
Here are some indications that are conveyed by people when lying:
- They speak in a high-pitched, fast-paced, stuttering voice.
- They are constantly swallowing and clearing their throat.
- They try their best to avoid having eye contact. This applies particularly
to people who want to avoid discussing a certain topic.
- They look somewhere else and glimpse from the corner of their eye.
- They stick their tongue out to moist their lips.
- They are blinking rapidly.
- They rub their throat.
- Their arms are crossed over the chest.
- They are constantly touching parts of their face, especially the mouth,
ear, and nose as if covering them.
- They scratch their head or the back of the neck.
- Their poses are closed, descending, and insecure.
- Their hands or feet are tapping.
- They always look down with shrugged shoulders.
- They are constantly moving from one place to another or changing
- They are projecting parts of their body (feet) to an escape route
Body Language in Job Interviews
Gone are the days when the job seeker has to write the handwritten
application letter to earn that job interview. In this age of computers and cyber
technology, most employers prefer applicants who apply online, and more job
seekers are looking to the net for their job opportunities. But one thing remains
the same - the body language of the applicant during job interviews and how they
make the first impression as they step inside that interview room.
Your Type of Person
Based on your body language, an interviewer may know whether you are
confident or not, if you are the shy type or the friendly type, if you are a loner or a
team player, or even if you are telling the truth or not. They can tell if you are
capable of handling the job, if you are devoted, or if youre someone who can get
along with other employees. Based on their questions, the interviewer will not
only pay attention to what you say, but also on how you say it. The interviewer
generally will find responses from you that match their qualifications. How you
can decode the body language of your interviewer in relation to your own body
language will determine the thin line if you get that job or not.
This is the most important aspect of the job interview arriving on time.
The job interview is deemed as a very important appointment, and being late is a
cardinal crime with gravity that may cause you to lose that job opportunity. Your
attitude regarding time will send the wrong messages to the employer, and will
tell a lot about your lack of professionalism. Being stuck in traffic is a very lame
and downright unforgivable excuse. It is better to be early by one hour than to be
a minute late.
The First Encounter
When the interviewer comes to the room to meet you, do not offer your
hand for a handshake unless the interviewer offers his hand. Shake hands firmly,
but do not squeeze. Maintain eye contact.
Proper Body Posture
Body posture is important during job interviews and you can adopt the
following stance. At the beginning of the interview, sit up straight in your chair,
with your back leaning against the back of the chair. Do not slouch or move
sideways in your chair because it might be perceived by the interviewer as a lack
of interest or boredom. On the other hand, sitting on the edge of your chair can
impart a message that you are a little nervous and that you feel uneasy with the
When the interviewer says something, it is advisable to lean forward a
little. This shows interest and attention in what the interviewer is saying. You can
tilt your head a little to show that you are listening closely.
Do not cross your arms because this might be perceived as a defensive
move. Just place your hands loosely on your lap or just put them on the armrest
of your chair. By doing this, you will also be able to make hand movements to
support what you are saying.
While speaking, you may nod your head occasionally to expound on a
subject or to give more meaning to what you are saying. Hand movements can
also help to spice up the conversation. The interviewer would think that you are
comfortable with the interview process if you make hand gestures.
Too much hand movements at the beginning of the interview may not be a
good idea. The proper way is to add them gradually throughout the interview.
Be aware of your interviewers hand movements as well. If they use their
hands a lot to make a point or to clarify something, you can do the same thing as
well (Remember mirroring?). When they don't make many movements, do the
same thing as them. It is important to adjust your gestures to that of the
interviewer to establish rapport.
The Panel Interview
Being interviewed by one person could be a piece of cake for many. But
being interviewed by a group could be a confusing ordeal, especially when it
comes to who you should look at during the interview.
It is important to maintain eye contact with all the interviewers at an equal
extent. By looking uniformly at them, you will establish their trust and you will
gain composure throughout the interview process.
When one of the interview partners asks or says something, maintain eye
contact with him until he ceases speaking. This will indicate that you're listening
attentively. While he is speaking, he may also look at the other interviewers.
When he looks at you again, you can nod your head to encourage him to
When you answer a question, look first at the one who asked. But while
you are answering, you should take turns looking at each of the other
interviewers as well. You should direct yourself again to the person who asked
the question when you want to prove a point, when you want to emphasize
something, and when you are done answering.
Body Language of Your Interviewers
Observing the body language of your interviewers is as important as being
aware of your own body movements. The body gestures of your interviewers can
give you an indication of how well you are coming across to them. This can serve
as a signal to change your approach at an early stage before they give you the
For example, when you did something that displeases the interviewers,
they will show their annoyance through body language. When they sigh, shake
their heads, look down, or fold their arms and lean back, you can take this as a
sign of discontentment or irritability. The interviewers might not consciously
notice that theyre exhibiting their body movements at first, so you still have a
chance to shift your strategy.
Body Language in Meetings
Body Language of Your Interviewers
Communication occurs constantly in a meeting. Not many people are
involved in speaking, but almost everyone (if not everyone) would exhibit body
language signals that divulge what they are actually feeling inside.
If you are the leader of the meeting, it is important to know if the attendees
are interested in what you are saying, or if they agree with your ideas. Early
detection of boredom or disagreement is crucial in order for you to change your
approach or present a different proposal when necessary.
When you see most of the attendees reclining back in their chairs or just
staring blankly without blinking an eye, it likely means they are not interested in
the topic being discussed. Do not prolong the discussion or do something that
will break the monotony.
When the attendees nod constantly, it means they are agreeing with what
you are saying.
When the attendees cross their arms, touch their nose or mouth, sit back,
and worse, shake their heads, they oppose your ideas. Time to think of some
countermeasures to neutralize the situation.