6 Interesting Facts About Body Language And Business

Body language. It can tell people a lot about you, like whether you’re shy, confident, interested or aggressive before you even open your mouth. You can imagine how much body language comes into play in the field of business now can’t you? We were curious about what clues we were giving away to fellow employees, clients and bosses, so we did a little digging to let you know what your body language says about you. From the most obvious things like standing with your arms crossed, to the smallest facial movements, we’ve got the top 6 most interesting facts about body language and business.

1. Posture.

There’s a good reason your mother always told you to, “Stand up straight” when you were a kid. Little did you know, it would ultimately influence the way you are perceived by general society. For example, you may assume that the man hunched over, shuffling down the street is lazy or self-conscious whereas the man standing tall with his head up is confident and self-assured.

Confidence is portrayed with a straight spine, wide stance, and the chest up. Tilting your head signifies interest, sympathy, and active listening. Arms crossed or condensed, can show a sign of disassociation, lack of caring, or potential confrontation.There is an amazing infographic from the

There is an amazing infographic from the Greatist on posture that explains not only what your posture says about you, but also how poor posture can affect to your health. The way you stand and move can affect everything from your circulation to your energy levels, not to mention putting unnecessary pressure on joints.

So no matter where you are or what you are doing, think about your posture and how you’re presenting yourself. It could go a long way in both your career and personal life.

2. Handshakes

In business, you’re constantly meeting new people. And what is it you do when you meet someone for the first time? Shake hands. Handshakes can tell you a lot about a person in a very short amount of time.

For example, someone with the “limp fish” handshake will often be seen as not confident and maybe even a pushover — not something you ever want to be known for in the business world. On the other hand (pun intended) aggressive handshakes can be seen as an attempt to show physical dominance and can instantly turn the other person off.

While there are many different forms of handshakes, the ideal grasp is something firm but not aggressive, done with correct posture and maintains eye contact throughout the shake. This shows you are confident, have a good grasp (couldn’t help it) on basic social skills and also have emotional intelligence. Bernard Marr has a great step-by-step introduction to the perfect handshake that we think everyone should check out.

3. Smiling.

Smiles are amazing things. Did you know that smiling is actually contagious? Seriously, it’s not just a saying! There are neurons deep inside our brains called “mirror neurons” that are trained to respond to a smile with a smile. And did you know that you can build trust in someone with a single smile? Flashing someone a genuine smile (and yes, people can tell when you’re faking it) will increase how much people trust you. Smiles also help your body relax, increase your positivity and productivity and can even help you live longer.

On top of all this, studies show that a genuine smile can actually decrease stress. Just think of how important this is in the standard work environment. Stress is one of those traits that is very easily read by co-workers and tends to spread like wildfire throughout the office once someone picks up on it.

Smiling is a powerful nonverbal cue and is essential for developing likeability and friendliness. In business, it’s also a great way to start out a conversation, but remember if things turn serious, things can get pretty inappropriate…and awkward.


Motions, actions, and posture allow us to collectively gather information about a particular someone’s state of mind. Dishonesty often comes with a cluster of nonverbal signals that can accurately tell you if a person is being deceptive.

The 5 main movements to look out for when you suspect someone of lying are: leaning away, crossing their arms, blushing, face touching, and hand touching. These may also go hand-in-hand with repetitiveness, covering of the mouth, too many details and difficulty speaking.

Since people are generally nervous when they are lying, small movements like shuffling their feet or playing with their hands are good indicators of a liar. They may also not want to maintain eye contact because of a feeling of shame or use angry gestures to really try to drive their story home.

5. Resistance.

It’s an inevitable fact that those in business are going to have to have awkward, painful or uncomfortable conversations from time to time. It’s important to be able to identify this awkwardness as it can lead to many unproductive conversations, collaborations, and meetings.

Typically when someone is feeling awkward or uncomfortable, they will have their arms folded across their chest or have crossed legs. This stance almost guarantees that you that this isn’t a positive conversation and the person is not open to hearing what you have to say. You can neutralize this by offering them a coffee or a snack, hand them a business card, and ask a question you know will interest them and engage them in conversation.

Finding common ground is a perfect way to break the ice and cut down any resistance. Once you do this, you’ll notice their body language changing to a more relaxed and comfortable position, leaving them open to harder conversations open to listening.

6. Eye Contact.

Eye contact is the most difficult to master of all body languages. Too much and you can instantly be seen as rude, intimidating or even downright creepy. Too little and you look like you are uneasy, lacking self-confidence and or even lying.

Direct eye contact with another person produces a very powerful subconscious feeling that you are connected to that person. It increases likability and trustworthiness as well as shows your genuine interest in what the other person is saying. In fact, studies have shown that speakers who actively seek out eye contact during a presentation are seen as more believable, confident and overall competent.

It’s a general rule that you should maintain eye contact with someone throughout about 30–60% of your conversation. Maintaining eye contact is much more important when you are listening that when you are speaking because it shows you care about what the other person has to say. Consider this next time you’re in a one-on-one meeting or even while you are presenting to a large group of people.

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Originally published at datanerds.com on January 29, 2016.

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