What’s Body Language? (written March, 1996)

When I first started in network marketing, I would meet with people face to face and conduct weekly meetings at my home. It is a great way to learn how to interest people into what you are doing. Here’s what I learned.

Ever walk into a meeting and try to assess what others are thinking? Ever wonder if you are on the right track when introducing yourself?  Wonder what to do?  Approximately 75% of how we communicate is through our bodies. The next 15% is through our voice and the final 10% is through our actual words. As soon as you understand how body language works, you will do a much better job at assessing different people and different situations.

Five things to look for:

1) Crossed arms: Do they cross their arms during your speech or presentation? Do they cross their arms after receiving an important business document during a one-to-one meeting? When this happens both of them are telling you they are not interested. You have not intrigued them. They could be bored or simply closed off to your ideas or suggestions. What you need to do is find out why this is happening and accordingly change your approach. Think about the times when you suddenly crossed your arms when someone was talking to you. Were you being defensive about something? Were you being closed off to someone’s ideas?

2) Leaning forward: Do they lean forward when you are speaking? Do they take time with the information you hand over to them and “lean in closer” to ask you questions? These are positive behaviors. You have won over the attention of these people. They are interested. Congratulations!  Close the deal or ask for some kind of next step. When someone leans in while you are speaking, then you must be telling one hell of a story. Without even realizing it, your audience has been hooked. And their body is giving them away.

3) Moving objects: When you sit across from someone, do they seem to fidget all the time? Are they restless for some reason? When you notice someone moving documents, fixing items or playing around with objects, they are either lying to you or they are extremely preoccupied. To find out which one it is, stay focused on the topic at hand and pay attention to how quickly they want to move onto the next subject. They get antsy when they lie. They become uneasy with themselves and they quickly want to discuss a new topic.

4) Eye contact: Poor eye contact must always be questioned. Why can’t someone look you in the eye when they speak to you? Are they embarrassed, manipulative or both? Shy people might turn away, but they usually do not have difficulties looking you straight in the eye. Honest people have nothing to hide. Wide-open eyes signal belief in oneself. Half-shut eyes signal disbelieve. How you feel when you look someone in the eyes is very important because who you are cannot be masked. In business, eye contact is everything.

5) Close Proximity:  When speaking with someone, how close do they stand or sit next to you? Closeness signals comfort and easygoing behavior. Distance signals a conservative nature or just insecurity. Males tend to naturally stand further away from other males, while females tend to stand closer to other females. There is a fine line between men and woman. Keep it simple. Pick up on whether they are formal or informal and follow their approach until you have built up a higher level of rapport. What you say during a business meeting or interview is not as important as what you do. Confident behaviors are signaled through the body.  You can answer all the questions in the world in the most amazing way, but if you’re body language is telling others that you are unsure, watch it. Learn to pay attention to what you and other people do in various situations.

Hope this helps.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.