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Did you know that you can say more through body language than you can with your voice? People understand more by watching the way you move your hands and how you shuffle your feet than the logic you put behind your words.
About fifty-five% of communication comes from body language, while 38% comes from the tone of your voice, and only 7% comes from what you are actually saying. With that in mind, knowing how to control and display your body language properly can be a tremendous asset to your nonverbal communication.
The following are 13 body language mistakes that might make you seem untrustworthy:
1. Crossing Your Arms
One of the most common mistakes is crossing your arms, especially when answering questions. Crossed arms are seen as a defensive tactic, almost as if you are protecting yourself from the person you are talking to. This makes you seem a little standoffish or even defensive.
2. Breaking Eye Contact Too Soon
Eye contact is good. It allows you to make a connection with the person you are talking to, but you cannot break that eye contact before the connection is made. As a rule of thumb, try to maintain eye contact until you are done shaking hands. Breaking visual contact before that might make you seem like you are hiding something.
3. Leaning Forward
Leaning forward can sometimes be associated with an aggressive salesperson. The product, idea, or thought that you are putting forth does not need to be oversold. A person might see your leaning forward as a form of overselling, and they might reject your offering. Leaning forward makes you look pushy and untrustworthy, so hold your ground but do not lean forward.
4. Stepping Backwards
Another possible problem is stepping back when asked something. This gesture makes it seem like you are not sure about your answer or the question asked. It shows hesitation, which is something that the person you are talking to is bound to pick up. It will make you seem untrustworthy, especially if your answer does not match the gesture.
5. Leaning Backwards
Teenagers are fond of this look, but it will make you seem uninterested, arrogant, and generally lazy. The product, service, or idea that you are talking about will seem like something you do not believe in. This alone makes you untrustworthy to a person who picks up on this gesture.
6. Fidgeting a Bit
This action can make you seem nervous. Nervousness does not always mean that someone is lying, but some people might take it that way. Be sure to keep fidgeting to a minimum. Try practicing speaking with someone so that you can eliminate it altogether.
7. Pocketing or Keeping Hands at the Hip
Keeping your hands in your pockets or on the side of your hips can be perceived as aggressive. This usually forces your chest to puff out a bit along with your shoulders, which could be seen as hostile. It makes the product or idea feel like it is being shoved down the throat of the person you are speaking with. Keep your arms loose, natural, and move them around from time to time.
8. Looking About
Yes, looking up, down, or to the sides could mean that you are simply nervous. This is normal, but it can also make you seem like you are not being yourself or you are lying. You want to eliminate this action just in case you are talking to someone who might perceive these actions incorrectly.
9. Staring Is a No-No
A quick gaze to establish a connection from time to time is good. The problem starts when you stare too long, which might make it seem like you are being judgmental. Creating a healthy and trustworthy connection means that you look at a person 60 to 70% of the time during the conversation. The look should not be any longer than a few seconds.
10. Finger-Steepling at the Wrong Time
Steepling, or pressing the fingers together in a church-like steeple position, is a great way to convey confidence when you are speaking or listening. The problem arises when you do it too often or at an inopportune time, which makes you seem arrogant or pompous and this harms your credibility. Use steepling sparingly and only to show confidence when it is absolutely necessary.
11. Don’t Check the Time
One of the worst things you can do is check the time. Checking the time shows that you do not value the time of the person you are speaking with. It also lessens the importance of whatever you are talking about, like your idea or product. Don’t look at your watch, clock, or phone.
12. Bad Hand-Palming
Holding your palms up while speaking may be natural to you, but it can be harmful to your conversation. Hand-palming can make it seem like you are prepared to receive something or it may make you seem like you are begging. This can also make it seem like you are not confident in your idea or product.
These are just some of the body language mistakes that could hurt you when communicating with coworkers, clients, or supervisors. It is always a good idea to practice. You can practice by speaking with a friend or acquaintance and having them watch your body language. If there isn’t someone who can help you, take a video of yourself having a conversation in front of a mirror and see how you interact with your reflection. Practicing allows you to get to a point where you are acting confident and natural without even knowing it.