Body Language

Posted on July 29, 2009

Andrea Schneider (bio) explains how your body language impacts your conversation and your attitude.

 

Some tips on body language, when you're trying to listen and engage in these conversations, is to recognize that people can tell what you're doing by your body language, so we know the eye contact, right? If you're staring off into space or rolling your eyes, it's a teenager. We know that you've actually got to make eye contact and that people won't feel respected unless you do that.

The leaning forward is a classic, and in part, sometimes in the same time they've done the studies that if you smile, you can actually make yourself happy. If you lean forward and you make eye contact and you kind of nod as people are speaking, you're forcing yourself to listen in a more open mind than if you're sitting back with your arms crossed, conveying the position of, "Oh, tell me something I don't already know."

If you look like you're sassing somebody, you are in your brain, and they'll pick it up, too. So you really want to be thinking about not only your tone of voice but how your whole body language is conveying openness and interest in what they're saying.

And if you are too tired or cranky or your brain is somewhere else to do that, then again, go back to the avoid. Don't engage in a conversation in which you're going to be so distracted or incapable of listening that it's going to be easily picked up.

We know when people aren't listening to us. You can tell that over the phone when people aren't listening, right? You know when somebody's checking their email at the same time that they're talking to you. There's no reason to think that they can't tell the same thing. If you don't have the time, and you can't focus on them, don't have the conversation. You're not doing anybody any favors.

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Excerpted from interview with professor at the 2009 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Palo Alto, CA.

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