A Thing
The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 24, 2023 • Issue 23:07:02

Street SmartsSM

Body language in business: Part 2 - Reading and speaking

By Nick Cucci
Fluid Pay LLC

We often think of body language as a standalone human behavior, but it is an integral part of your language and communication habits. When combined with the right words and actions, body language can help you drive a point home or reassure someone that you mean what you say.

You can use body language in the office on a daily basis as long as you know how to interpret it and use it effectively. Let's explore how you can use body language every day to communicate more effectively.

What does it mean to read someone's body language?

Body language plays two roles for us–we perceive it and we convey it. Reading someone's body language can help us to listen more effectively and understand what they are trying to communicate. When you read a person's body language, you can adapt your own communications to provide a positive outcome.

Most people are not aware of their body language, and this is actually a good thing when you're reading it. Since they are not aware of it, they are more likely to be honest with their body language. This can tell us quite a bit about what they aren't saying.

To read someone's body language, you will look at their mannerisms, posture, expressions, and gestures to paint a clear picture of what they are thinking.

What does it mean to speak through body language?

Speaking through body language is the act of controlling your body language to send the right message. It can mean looking calm, even when you are annoyed–or it might mean looking happy, even when you aren't that thrilled. Controlling body language is just like selecting the right words when you speak. It helps us to send the right message through the physical presence of our bodies.

Common body language actions to use and notice in others

In the office, chances are that you interact with a lot of different people every day. This is great because it means you can start to pay more attention to the body language of the people around you and your own body language too. Learning how to spot certain actions can help you to recognize them more in your own body language.

Following are some common body language actions and what they mean:

  • Smiling: Smiling is a universal sign for happiness and positivity, and it is one that can tell you a lot. If you are presenting in a meeting and notice that everyone is smiling, you can feel confident that you are taking the right approach and doing a good job–but this is just the start.

    When you smile during conversations and even when passing others by in the office, you share a beam of positivity. Smiling helps you to seem positive, look more engaged, and can paint you as a great support system too.

  • Head motions: Starting when they are very young, we teach children to use head motions to communicate. However, most adults fall into the habit of using them without thinking, and this can send the right message—or the wrong one.

    Nodding along while someone is talking can show that you are listening and approve of what they are saying. This is a great motion to use during meetings and conversation, and it can have a positive impact. However, too much nodding can make you seem uncertain or like a people pleaser (see https://tinyurl.com/mry5zftj).

    Shaking your head, on the other hand, can convey negativity and disapproval. Using this during a meeting can make you seem unhappy, argumentative or even lead you to make the speaker feel less confident.

  • Eye contact: Maintaining eye contact is a universal indicator that you are paying attention, but how you do it matters. Although general eye contact can help show engagement and interest, sharp eye contact can make it seem like you are unhappy or disapproving. Be sure to soften your gaze and keep your eye contact neutral to avoid intimidating the individual you are speaking with.M
  • Hand gestures: There are many popular hand gestures, and most of us use them without thinking. This can be a good thing, but it can also be a very bad thing depending on which gestures you choose. Clapping or the "fist pump" motion can convey positive emotions and show support or excitement. In a lot of cases, this is a great way to show positivity in the workplace. However, hand gestures can just as quickly be negative. Fidgeting, throwing your hands out, or making a fist can all communicate negative messages. Fidgeting can be perceived as nervousness or boredom. Throwing your hands out or making a fist can seem aggressive and unhappy (see https://tinyurl.com/46ekk9s8).

    Holding your hands in a comfortable position is a great neutral option that can demonstrate a sense of calm and awareness.

  • Personal space: Chances are that you don't try to get too close to your co-workers, but the distance you share does matter. A large distance, for example, is likely to give the impression that you don't want someone near you. A shorter distance, conversely, can tell your coworkers that you feel comfortable with them. These simple factors can influence your relationship with others.
  • Posture: We often think of posture as slouching or not slouching, but it actually goes much deeper than that. Your posture shows where you are holding tension in your body, and it can say a lot about you in a workplace setting.

    Slouching is a universal signal for disengagement, often giving the impression that you are bored or not interested in the topic. If slouching is a constant habit, you might even come off as lazy or disinterested in your job as a whole.

    A rigid body is the opposite of slouching. It is a visible tension carried throughout the spine and shoulders. It is another posture option that often sends the wrong message. When you are rigid, you can seem inconvenienced, rude or even angry.

    Having a casual posture that includes being taught and relaxed can help you to strike a better balance.

The takeaway

When you can see body language at work in others, you can better understand how they feel beneath the surface. However, when you can control it for yourself, you gain the ability to make sure that there is a clear alignment in all of your communication methods. To start practicing, observe the people around you or try filming yourself to see what kind of messages you are sharing.

In part three of this series, I'll discuss mirroring body language and how it can help you to be a more effective communicator. end of article

Nicholas Cucci is the co-founder and COO of Fluid Pay LLC. Cucci is also a graduate of Benedictine University and a member of the Advisory Board and Anti-Fraud Technology Committee for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, as a CFE himself. Fluid Pay is the ONLY 100 percent cloud-based Level 1 PCI Payment Gateway processing transactions anywhere in the world. Contact Nick at Nick@FluidPay.com. Benefits of crypto for the underbanked

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

Prev Next
A Thing