What is body language and how do we assess it?

What Is Body Language?

Put simply, body language is the unspoken element of communication that we use to reveal our true feelings and emotions. Our gestures, facial expressions and posture, for instance.

When we are able to “read” these signs, we can use it to our advantage. For example, it can help us to understand the complete message of what someone is trying to say to us, and to enhance our awareness of people’s reactions to what we say and do.

We can also use it to adjust our own body language so that we appear more positive, engaging and approachable.

How to Read Negative Body Language

Being aware of negative body language in others can allow you to pick up on unspoken issues or bad feelings. So, in this section, we’ll highlight some negative nonverbal signals that you should look out for.

Difficult Conversations and Defensiveness

Difficult or tense conversations  are an uncomfortable fact of life at work. Perhaps you’ve had to deal with a difficult customer , or needed to talk to someone about his or her poor performance . Or maybe you’ve negotiated a major contract.Ideally, these situations would be resolved calmly. But, often they are complicated by feelings of nervousness, stress, defensiveness , or even anger . And, though we may try to hide them, these emotions often show through in our body language.For example, if someone is exhibiting one or more of the following behaviour, he will likely be disengaged, disinterested or unhappy (see figure 1):Arms folded in front of the body.Minimal or tense facial expression.Body turned away from you.Eyes downcast, maintaining little contact.

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