The gestures that are a big NO
The body language gestures have woven into the fabrics of our everyday lives. We point, wave, beckon and use our hands while we are speaking or arguing animatedly, expressing ourselves with gestures, often unconsciously. Gestures may vary across different cultures and regions, so it’s important to be aware to avoid misinterpretations.
Actions speak louder than words –
Nearly more than half of the human communication takes place non-verbally. Consciously or subconsciously, we are constantly sending non-verbal messages – even as we read these words. Your body is an effective tool to add clarity and emphasis to your words. It is very important to communicate effectively, so as to project your enthusiasm, sincerity and earnestness by making your actions and manner affirm what you say. However, results can be disastrous, if your physical actions are distracting or if they deliver meanings that do not match with your verbal message.
So, make sure that whatever your purpose is – to inform, entertain, motivate, inspire or persuade – you must project your body and personality in the most appropriate way to what you say. When you communicate, people tend to mirror your attitudes, they unconsciously feel what you feel and respond accordingly. Thus, it is vital that your body faithfully portrays your true feelings.
To say cheese or not to say cheese
You might think that your body language is a powerful indicator that exhibits you emotions and feelings in a way that they can be easily interpreted by others. Now, of course this can for you or against you depending on the body language you use. Everybody speaks the body language and like in any other language, this language also has slips that must be avoided.
Body language errors
- Fidgeting and big hand movements –
The little nervous movements like messing with the collar of your shirt, playing with your hair or playing with a pen, can kill your impression. It demonstrated anxiety, weakness, lack of confidence and discomfort. Powerful people tend to use more subtle and smaller hand gestures to demonstrate their point with authority.
- Do not glance at your watch –
Having a glance at the watch, while conversing with somebody, can be a big turn off for that person. A quick glance at the wall clock or your wrist watch, says ‘I don’t care, please quit talking quickly’, even if that’s not what you mean.
- Do not cross your arm –
Crossed arms, is a defensive position and can be detrimental. This is a simple and comfortable posture, yet gives an unapproachable feel to others. To add to this, this gesture involves a sense of egotism, inclined towards arrogance. When people who are listening to you cannot see your hands, they start to wonder what you are hiding. So, avoid it!
- Do not fake smile –
Now let us not say cheese, as it portrays a fake smile, which is seen as an insincere smile. Smile not only with your mouth but with your eyes as well. Your smile is accompanied by increased activity in the left pre-frontal cortex– the characteristic wrinkles around the eyes in real smiles – is the seat of positive emotions. With a natural smile, you show up more confidence, warmth, openness and energy, while if you do not smile or even faking it, you are seen as grim or aloof.
- Do not touch your face –
Touching your face is a sign of deception. When you lie, especially during a conversation, this gesture is made subconsciously. When you are telling a lie, your brain instructs you to block the deceitful words flowing out of your mouth.
- Do not face away –
To establish a healthy and mutual communication, good eye contact is essential, as it builds trust and shows that you are engaged and connected. The ability to look eye to eye while speaking denotes confidence, authority and presence. Holding an eye contact while conversing also has enormous impact on your skill to persuade, while lack of eye contact indicates deception. Well, this does not imply you stare with a blank face and scare the person away. It means, even if you not interested in the discussion, a sudden cut off is rude.
Besides not having an eye contact, eye rolling is another gesture which is not appreciated by people you are conversing with. It is a sign of frustration, contempt, aggression and exasperation. This is indeed a strong signal, which can be avoided with self-awareness, so avoid it!
- Do not give a lousy handshake –
Lousy handshakes are crummy and will definitely kill your first impression, as it depicts submissiveness. A firm handshake, with a sincere look and a warm smile is the best gesture for a perfect introduction. But then, make sure that you do not go for the ‘I will crush you’ handshake. Just slide your hand down into the web of the other person’s hand and make a palm-to-palm contact, lock thumbs and apply equal pressure.
- Poor posture –
How we stand depends on how we feel. People often tend to slump their shoulders due to fatigue, bad back aches, lack of confidence or just disregard. This gives an impression of laziness, insecurity or just a sense of unhappiness. Thus, to be seen as confident, stand tall, with neck elongated, shoulders and ears aligned, chest slightly protruding and legs slightly apart, distributing weight evenly. This depicts an outward appearance of strength, credibility and vitality.
- Showing no physical feedback –
Showing no empathy, or interest in what the other person is talking, can be detrimental. If no feedback is given physically, people start to think that you are stuck up, that you don’t care and host of various negative attributes. So express your interest through smiles, raised eyebrow, leaning forward or just by vocal utterances – like the ‘uh-huh’.
- Mismatched verbal and non-verbal messages –
The common mistake that any communicator can make is showing the opposite emotional reaction to what they are saying. Like for example, you say, “that sounds great” in a monotone voice while you roll your eyes and cross your arms. When we speak to others, the listeners judge you and your message based on what they hear as well as what they see.
The final say
Like the beautiful Mae West quoted, ‘I speak two languages – Body and English’. Thus remember, your body is a reflection of the message you convey, so do not give away a wrong one.
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