Only 20 percent of human communication is verbal, so the vast majority of the messages we send out are nonverbal. Some are intentional, but many are subconscious, and we constantly broadcast messages whether we realize it or not.
Here's a brief list of some of the most common nonverbal cues:
It's a closed-off posture thought to imply resistance and sometimes deception. On its own, it's not an accurate indicator, as it could simply be a position of comfort or a result of being cold. Combined with a distant facial expression or an evasive posture, the accuracy goes way up. Nonverbal cues should always be read as a whole, rather than one-offs, because it is the synchronicity and entire picture that is truly telling.
A brief touch to the hand
This captures attention and forms a quick connection, especially in a busy, loud, or competitive atmosphere. But be careful toward employees; make sure the action doesn't appear condescending or flirtatious. In most business situations, it would be best not to risk possible misinterpretations that could be made from this particular gesture.
Rubbing the nose
This motion is often linked with deception. It could be deception on their part, or sometimes it's a reflection of how they're interpreting your words. So, if you notice people doing this while you talk, you could be coming across as insincere.
A physical barrier
Personal space is important in American culture, so back off if clients put up a barrier, like a purse, book, notepad, or folder. People become uncomfortable when their bubble of space is invaded, interfering with their concentration.
A hand placed under the chin
This frequently indicates that a decision is being made, often regarding a proposal being made. If other nonverbal cues look negative, it would be best to move on to your next idea.
Feet pointed toward the door
This is a great indicator of interest-or lack thereof-and is one of the few reliable signals that trump other nonverbal cues. If the person you're talking to has both feet pointed to the door, wrap things up; you've lost their interest and it's highly unlikely you'll get a positive outcome from holding them up.
Your client might have an itch, or it could mean he still has questions and concerns. Read this in conjunction with other cues.
Overly rigid body position
If a person is sitting/standing in a stiff, unrelaxed position while listening to someone, it generally indicates anxiety, frustration, anger, or defiance.
Overly relaxed body position
If a person is slouching or leaning way back in their chair while listening to someone, it generally means they don't consider the conversation important, or it indicates boredom or disrespect.
A person demonstrating habitual movements like foot tapping or playing with a cell phone, pen, or other object while talking is generally uninterested, uncertain, or nervous.
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but only a small sampling of the nonverbal messages people send out. Also, remember that all body language is subjective and most reliable when multiple signs are read in combination and point to the same conclusion.
By Don Townsend
Don Townsend is an Orlando entertainer that provides jaw dropping laugh out loud corporate entertainment with his astounding mentalist act.
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