Everyone knows what body language is, but most people don’t really understand how to control their body language and send the message they want to send, rather than the message they’re unconsciously sending.
First, concentrate on eye contact. Making eye contact with the person you’re talking to makes them feel you’re paying attention, that you respect them, that you’re interested in them and what they have to say. However, there is such a thing as too much eye contact. We usually call it staring. You don’t want the person to feel you’re looking at a spot of ink on their nose or a piece of spinach in their teeth. In the US, a good level of eye contact is about 75% of the time; some cultures would consider this staring, so be aware of that, but do keep consistent eye contact.
The next important piece of body language is posture. This is a key because not only does your posture give signals to other people, it also controls how you feel. Try this. Sit slouched down in your chair. Now sit up straight, hold your head high, and pull your shoulders back. Don’t you feel better? By being aware of your posture, you can feel better, and also show people that you’re confident and comfortable.
Finally, your head position says a great deal about your internal thought processes and gives people signals about you. Keeping your head level, from side to side and front to back, makes you look authoritative and confident. Tilting your head indicates interest, and you can tilt it to either side, or move it from one side to the other occasionally, to show that you are active in your interest. This lets people know you’re really listening.
Body language is a fascinating study, and just knowing a little about body language can help you use it more effectively and avoid sending the wrong signals.