5 Deadly Sins of Body Language

When the silent movies came out during the early part of the 19th century, actors conveyed love, anger, sadness and respect through body language. We do the same in our everyday life. There is aggressive body language, uninterested body language, closed body language and annoyed body language that can encapsulate other poor behaviors. Since communication is 50 percent nonverbal, we might want to be more cognizant of the use of body language to prevent friction. Here are 5 deadly sins of negative body language. 

Crossed Arms
The crossed arms across the chest are standard worldwide as being defensive. You are simply blocking out others and what they have to say. This is the opposite of what you want to do.  Until you unfold your arms or get the other person to unfold theirs, no one is listening. This invisible barrier is your signal to change the direction of the conversation as you will get nowhere. If you are notorious for crossing your arms, let your arms fall to the sides. This will feel uncomfortable but so what. And with some practice, you will master it. 

Avoiding Eye Contact
When someone avoids eye contact, it could mean that they fear rejection, are ashamed or they are hiding something. If someone is blinking more than normal, they could be apprehensive about something that they want to talk about. As difficult and awkward as it may feel, use direct eye contact.  This builds trust and shows true engagement in the conversation.

Finger Pointing and Arms Waving
You know when you’re enjoying a nice time with someone then one comment is made and boom…unsettling voices start to rise and it escalates to another level with finger wagging, finger pointing and a scowl. If there is lot of movement like a sweeping motion with the arms, it is clear that the person is being aggressive is more than just a little upset. It’s important to remain calm because if you feed into this anger, it will only become worse. Use empathy, as this can deescalate most heated conversations.  Always respect personal space and if needed take a time out.

Looking at Your Phone
This has to be the most aggravating thing on the planet when you are in a conversation. I’ve been known to just stop talking until the person puts the phone away. When we are having a conversation and the other person is looking at their phone it is dismissive and aggravating–all in one. “Tinkering with a mobile phone – however innocent your intention – whilst someone else is speaking gives the impression that you are both rude and disinterested,” reported Maguire Training. If you are engaged in a discussion or spending time with someone, please for the love of Pete–keep your phone out of reach. If you do, understand that you are conveying that you don’t care.

Resting Your Head
I’m guilty! If the person you are talking to is resting their head in their hands, it is a sign that they are bored, not interested or too tired to have the conversation. They want to be somewhere else and they are not engaged with you at the moment. This is always a bad sign since we all want to be paid attention to. I’m often tired so I often rest my head.  I’ve been made aware this makes other feel dismissed.  Be intentional about keeping your head up and eyes focused.

There are so many other examples of negative body language… snickering, eye rolling, walking away, and so on.  Body language is an interesting subject and a good way to gauge where people’s heads and hearts are. We all play a part in negative body language. However, it is up to us to counter these actions with positive forms of communication to prevent angst in our relationships.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

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