Body language is an important part of how we communicate. Our facial expressions, posture, eye contact and tone of voice are important clues to the messages we are sending to those around us. Body language is seen as a natural, unconscious language that broadcasts your true feelings and intentions. Your nonverbal communication cues—the way you listen, look, move, and react—tell the person you are communicating with whether or not you care, if you are being truthful, and how well you are listening. When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you are saying, they increase trust, clarity, and rapport. When they don’t, they can generate tension, mistrust, and confusion.
Understanding body language can be a powerful tool in improving communication with those around us. We can consider body language from the perspective of two general categories. There is positive (open) body language or negative (closed) body language.
Positive body language is marked by firm handshakes, raised eyebrows, sustained eye contact and mirrored body posturing. Using positive body language puts us in a position of comfort and likeability. It helps us to be approachable to others, while also expressing interest and enthusiasm.
Negative body language creates barriers to communication. Some examples of negative body language are crossed arms, lack of eye contact, fidgeting and negative facial expressions, such as pursed lips. These types of behaviors indicate defensiveness, lack of interest and disagreement.
Understanding your own body language, as well as the body language of others, can make you a better communicator. This can lead to success in both personal and professional relationships.