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Body Language Etiquette

Nonverbal know-how.

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Words: Liam Chapman

Communication extends far beyond the words we speak. In fact, studies suggest that over 90% of our communication is nonverbal. One of the key elements of this can be found in body language, which conveys volumes of information and greatly influences how others view us.

Understanding body language will help build stronger relationships with those around you, both personally and professionally.

That is precisely why we’ve taken the time to create this guide—to explore the nuances of body language etiquette and offer practical tips for navigating social interactions with grace.

The Power Of Body Language

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter Drucker

Body language encompasses various nonverbal cues that convey meaning or emotions such as gestures, facial expressions, posture, eye contact, and vocal tone. It’s important to understand that these cues communicate much more than words as they reveal thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

By paying attention to your own body language along with others around you, you’re able to better understand the dynamics of a conversation and adjust accordingly.

The following are some important elements of body language and our best advice for mastering them.

Eye contact:

Maintaining solid eye contact during a conversation shows that you are paying attention and care about what the other person has to say—creating an opening for a deeper connection. So, the next time you are chatting with someone, try to make eye contact more often.

In life balance is key, and eye contact is no exception (so don’t go overboard). Find what’s comfortable for both parties involved. Excessive eye contact might seem intimidating and avoiding it all together will make it seem like you don’t care.

Facial expressions & microexpressions:

Our faces are quite literally expressive billboards. Therefore, being mindful of our facial expressions (and others) during conversations is essential for effective communication.

You’ve probably heard the saying “a genuine smile can go a long way” countless times before, but it’s just too true to not include it. If you aren’t smiling much during conversations that may be a good place to start. On the other hand, frowns and scowls are automatic deterrents when trying to engage in friendly conversations, try to avoid them.

Paying attention to microexpressions (quick facial expressions that flash across our faces) allows us to see other people’s true feelings (or intentions). Understanding this skill is extremely beneficial in any situation, allowing us the opportunity to respond appropriately.

Gestures & body movements:

When we speak it’s only natural to have body movements and gestures accompany our message, so don’t suppress them! They are quite helpful in emphasizing key points and make you a much more engaging conversationalist.

It’s important, however, not to overdo it. Erratic or excessive gestures can distract from your actual message—be mindful of your body movement and make sure it aligns with the tone of the conversation.

Mirroring & Matching

Mirroring is a fantastic technique to build rapport with someone. When we subtly imitate the body language of the person we’re talking to, it creates a sense of familiarity and trust. You can imitate their body language by slightly mirroring their posture, gestures, or perhaps their tone of voice.

However, the key thing to remember is subtlety. You don’t want to over this technique as it may come across as mimicking.

Cultural awareness:

Different cultures might call for different interpretations of body language. You might not think something as simple as body language would vary, but it does. What one culture considers polite, may signal disrespect in another.

If you’re traveling, take the time to learn these subtle differences to avoid any miscommunications.

The Art Of A Confident Stance

“Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.” – Maya Angelou

The way you stand can convey confidence, assertiveness, and professionalism. Therefore, it’s important to master it when trying to command a room.

Below are some practical tips and our insights on standing with confidence.

Stand tall & upright:

Looking confident is all about standing with authority. Stand tall and straight, push your shoulders back while keeping your head held high. You want to look powerful and ready for anything. To do this, avoid slouching or leaning too far forward.

Relax your arms:

When standing, let your arms hang naturally at your sides. Crossing them over your chest sends signals of defensiveness or disinterest to the people around you. Relaxing them and letting them flow freely shows that you’re approachable and ready for interaction.

Be aware of personal space:

This one should go without saying but don’t invade someone else’s bubble of personal space when engaging in a conversation or even standing next to them. People can easily feel threatened when their boundaries are crossed, so always be conscious of how close you are to someone else.

Final Thoughts

Mastering body language etiquette is a continuous process. We hope our suggestions can help you make sense of daily interactions and enhance both your image and confidence.

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