woman silenced by duct tapeMost communication takes place on a non-verbal level.  People in the dating world, especially the online dating world, have long understood this fact.  Imagine for a moment that you are having a great online relationship and that the person your chatting with from a dating site seems like the perfect fit.  Then when you meet this wonderful person something is just well off.  There are lots of reasons that this can happen.  One reason is biochemistry, but another reason is body language.

Since most of our communication takes place on a non-verbal level, those great conversations on the phones, emails and text messages might not translate into a good fit in the real world.  Body language matters, and it matters a great deal.  Body language mistakes can kill relationships both personal and professional.  Knowing what body language mistakes to avoid can make all the difference.

Conversation Stopper Number One-A Lack of Eye Contact

Not making eye contact makes people very nervous and sends two different possible messages.  The first message is that you are uninterested in what someone is saying.  The second body language message being sent is that you just don’t care what someone is saying.

A study from the University of Miami in Florida revealed that 43.4% of attention is paid to the eyes.  The mouth only commands 12.6% of attention.

A failure to make eye contact is essentially a failure to communicate.

Conversation Stopper Number Two-Bad Posture

No one is saying that you must stand straight as a board all the time; however, consistently slumping or otherwise maintaining poor body posture sends a variety of different messages.  Bad posture indicates that you are uninterested, tired, lazy or all of the above.

Conversation Stopper Number Three-Presenting an Imposing Front

If you want people to like you, then you must seem approachable.  Putting on a fearful front may have its place, but using it excessively can kill everything from business deals to relationships.  Wearing a frown, crossed arms, hands on hips, hands behind your back and other aggressive body posturing can turn people off and stop a conversation before it begins.

Conversation Stopper Number Four-Excessive Movement

Do you fidget when you get nervous?  Fidgeting not only shows that you are nervous, but can also make other people feel nervous as well.  If you want to keep people calm and engaged in a conversation, then you’ll want to keep fidgeting at a minimum.  Excessive hair grooming, handwringing, nail biting and other indicators that you are nervous will crush communication and fast.

Conversation Stopper Number Five-Not Smiling

Eye contact and smiling go along way in the beginning of all relationships.  Forgetting to smile is a very bad body language mistake.  You don’t have to smile constantly or wear a huge grin, but you don’t want your face looking like it is made out of stone either.  Optimal smile frequency and lengths vary from culture to culture.  But the smile itself is universal.  Smiling shows that you are happy to see someone and that you are comfortable and approachable.

In the realm of communication, what you don’t do can be just as important as what you don’t do.  Follow these five tips, remember to use a firm (but not crushing) handshake and be polite.  You’ll be well on your way to making the most out of your body language.

Alicia Dearn

Alicia Dearn

CEO + Trial Lawyer at Bellatrix PC
Ms. Dearn gives sharp and insightful legal counsel to entrepreneurs and employers so they can advance their businesses fearlessly. She fixes legal problems.
Alicia Dearn