Body language

The secret messages of the body

To make it further in your career, all your professional knowledge won’t help you one bit if you don’t behave the right way.

Our body language shows – usually completely unconsciously – how we feel and what we think all the time. At the same time, we intuitively register and interpret even the smallest signals from the person we are talking to.

However, you can consciously use your body language to control your effect on your environment.

Maintain a good posture

More than anything else, your posture shows how you feel. An upright yet relaxed posture shows that your feel sure of yourself, while someone who constantly fidgets gives the impression of being unsure of themselves. So stand firmly on both your legs, put your shoulders back and raise your head. In this way, you’ll radiate self-confidence and will appear significantly surer of yourself. You will therefore be taken more seriously.

Hands up!

We also communicate with our hands and arms – in a positive and a negative way. What are known as ‘closing gestures’ are perceived as negative: for example crossing the arms in front of the chest or regularly showing the back of the hand is a sign of rejection. Anyone who puts their hands in their pockets appears to be hiding something and anyone who rubs them regularly reveals agitation.

Open gestures above the waist are perceived as positive on the other hand. Movements that lead away from the body signalise sincerity and openness. But careful, if you put your hands near your face or your neck, you send out negative signals. Pay conscious attention to your own and others’ arm and hand movements, because they give away a lot about your mood and your intentions.

Always nice and friendly

A smile gives us a positive demeanour, we seem more likeable and are perceived as an open person. However, only if it’s real. The strongest and most important signals come from the eyes.

A fake smile doesn’t activate the muscles around the eyes, which is noticed immediately and makes people mistrustful. Lifting only one corner of your mouth or raising your eyebrows seems arrogant and overbearing. Greet other people with an open, friendly look, but don’t stare at them too long or too intensely. Otherwise you will seem threatening and aggressive.

The trousers fit

Even if on first glance your clothes don’t have anything to do with your body language, it does have a big influence. On the one hand, they give the impression of seriousness or sportiness. On the other, they have an effect on our self-esteem. Someone who constantly tugs on a skirt that’s too short or pulls up their trousers to the right height seems very insecure and shows that they don’t feel comfortable. So always be sure to wear clothes that fit well and in which you like yourself. This makes it easier to appear self-confident and positive.

Smile – on the telephone too

Remember that you also send signals over the telephone. So pay attention to your posture when talking on the phone. A smile for example will make your voice sound much friendlier and an upright, self-confident sitting position will also have a positive effect on the sound of what you say.

But be careful!

Body language is rarely unambiguous. Because depending on culture, sex and age, different signals are sent out and usually also interpreted and assessed differently. There are too many details missing for an absolutely certain interpretation, such as what the person is thinking at the time, what the person has experienced before they see you and how their past experiences influence their current behaviour. Furthermore, different combinations of unconscious signals have an influence on the interpretation of body language. Remember this when you attempt to interpret non-verbal messages.