Body Language 101: Are your non-verbal cues supporting what you say?

It is day two of a five day trade show, and you are tired. Without realizing, you lean against the counter, arms crossed and lost in thought about the next steps following a productive customer meeting earlier in the day. Meanwhile, someone – it could be a customer, a potential customer, or even a colleague you have not met before - approaches your stand but judges by your position and the look on your face that you do not want to welcome any visitors.

We register and process body language without even being aware of it. What your body communicates is often more accurate than what you say and it actually speaks before you do. In fact, our first impressions are formed within seconds of meeting someone, or even before we meet someone, and are based far more on what we see and feel about the other person than on the words they say. On many occasions we form a strong view about a new person before they speak a single word.

Remember too that body language goes both ways. Be aware of the signals from other people. Think about speaking with a customer, prospect or an editor – do their eyes begin to wonder, do they stop taking notes, cross their arms, or begin to fidget? The body language reveals their feelings and meaning to you, and in this case, you’re losing their interest.
It is not only about being aware of the impression your body language is sending, but also about being able to read the same cues from others.

Here a few body language tips to create a good impression.

  • Smile
    your face is the first and most important attribute in making a good first impression
  • Maintain eye contact
    people will focus more if they feel you are speaking directly to them
  • Stand up straight
    give the impression of confidence
  • Use hand gestures
    actions emphasize your words and make them easier to remember
  • Keep an open posture
    your stance signals that you are approachable and receptive
  • Behave  naturally
    when you are comfortable, so are those around you

Try them out, and gauge the reaction – you may be surprised by the results!


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