Soft Skills Training

Body Language Basics

Improving Body Language Topics Outline:

1- Communicating With Body language

  • Learning a New Language
  • The Power of Body Language
  • More Than Words
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Word

2- Reading Body Language

  • Head Position
  • Translating Gestures Into Words
  • Open Vs. Closed Body Language
  • The Eyes Have It

3- Body Language Mistakes

  • Poor Posture
  • Invading Personal Space
  • Quick Movements
  • Fidgeting

4- Gender Differences

  • Facial Expressions
  • Personal Distances
  • Female Body Language
  • Male Body Language

5- Non-Verbal Communication

  • Common Gestures
  • The Signals You Send to Others
  • It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It
  • What Your Posture Says
6- Facial Expressions

  • Linked With Emotion
  • Micro-expressions
  • Facial Action Coding System (FACS)
  • Universal Facial Expressions

7- Body Language in Business

  • Communicate With Power
  • Cultural Differences
  • Building Trust
  • Mirroring

8- Lying and Body Language

  • Watch Their Hands
  • Forced Smiles
  • Eye Contact
  • Changes in Posture

9- Improve Your Body Language

  • Be Aware of Your Movements
  • The Power of Confidence
  • Position and Posture
  • Practice In a Mirror

10- Matching Your Words to Your Movement

  • Involuntary Movements
  • Say What You Mean
  • Always Be Consistent
  • Actions Will Trump Words

1- Communicating with Body Language

We are constantly communicating, even when we are not speaking. Unspoken communication makes up over half of what we tell others and they tell us. It affects our work and personal relationships. Improves negotiating, management, and interpersonal skills by correctly interpreting body language and important signals.

body language training

The Power of Body Language:

Understanding body language does more than improve relationships. You will get insight into the thoughts and feelings of those around you. Because it is not a conscious form of communication, people betray themselves in their body language. Body language is powerful in several ways.

  • It is honest: Body language conveys truth, even when words do not.
  • Creates self-awareness: Understanding body language helps you identify your own actions that hinder success.
  • Understand feelings: Body language shows feelings and motive such as aggression, submission, deception, etc. Use these as cues to your communication.
  • Enhance listening and communication skills: Paying attention to body language makes someone a better listener. Hear between the words spoken to what is being said.

More than Words:

Much of the way people communicate is nonverbal. Body language specifically focuses on physical, not tone, or pitch. It includes the following characteristics.

Body Language:

  • Proximity: The distance between people
  • Positioning: Position of a body
  • Facial expression: The eyes are particularly noticed.
  • Touching: This includes objects, people, and themselves.
  • Breathing: The rate of respiration is telling.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Our impressions of each other are based on more than words. People can have cordial conversations and not like each other. The actions that we take are stronger than our words. For example, a person may dismiss someone using body language and not saying anything negative. Like it or not, our body language makes a lasting impression on the people around us.

What Actions Can Say:

  • Deception
  • Confidence
  • Nerves
  • Boredom
  • Emotions
  • Attraction
  • Being open
  • Being closed off

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of what body language can communicate.

2- Reading Body Language:

Reading Body Language

We are constantly reading the body language of others, even when we are not aware of it. Actively reading body language, however, will provide valuable insight and improve communication. Pay attention to the positions and movements of people around you. Specifically their head positions, physical gestures, and eyes.

Head Position

The head is an obvious indicator of feelings and thoughts. The position of the head speaks volumes, making it the perfect place to start. While it takes practice to accurately interpret head position, the basic positions, and movements that are not extremely difficult to identify.

Movement and Position:

  • Nodding: Nodding typically indicates agreement. The speed of the nod, however, indicates different things. A slow nod can be a sign of interest or a polite, fake signal. Look to other eyes for confirmation. A fast nod signals impatience with the speaker.
  • Head up: This position indicates that the person is listening without bias.
  • Head down: This position indicates disinterest or rejection for what is said. When done during an activity, it signals weakness or tiredness.
  • Tilted to the side: This means a person is thoughtful or vulnerable. It can signal trust.
  • Head high: Holding the head high signals confidence or feelings of superiority.
  • Chin up: The chin up indicates defiance or confidence.
  • Head forward: Facing someone directly indicates interest. It is a positive signal.
  • Tilted down: Tilting the head down signals disapproval.
  • Shaking: A shaking head indicates disagreement. The faster the shaking, the stronger the disagreement.

Translating Gestures into Words

Scientific studies show that the part of the human brain that comprehends words is the same part of the brain that comprehends gestures. Gestures are also called movement clusters because it is more than a body position. We use gestures when we speak, typically hand gestures. They enhance meaning, or can be used by themselves.


  • Pointing finger: This is an aggressive movement. When a wink is added, however, it is a positive confirmation of an individual.
  • Finger moves side to side: This motion acts as a warning to stop something.
  • Finger moves up and down: This acts as a reprimand or places emphasis on what is said.
  • Thumbs up: Thumbs up is a sign of approval.
  • Thumbs down: This is a sign of disapproval.
  • Touch index finger to thumb: The sign indicates OK.

Open Vs. Closed Body Language

Body language is often defined as open or closed. Being open or closed has many different causes. Open body language can come from passivity, aggression, acceptance, supplication, or relaxation. Closed body language may be caused by the desire to hide, self-protection, cold, or relaxation.

Closed body language:

  • Arms crossed: This stance is often defensive or hostile.
  • Legs crossed when seated: Cross legs can indicate caution. One leg over the other at the knee may indicate stubbornness.
  • Arm or object in front of the body: This can coincide with nervousness and is a form of self-protection.
  • Legs crossed when standing: This may mean someone is insecure when combined with crossed arms. By itself, it can signal interest.

Open body language:

  • Legs not crossed: This is an open, relaxed position.
  • Arms not crossed: Open arms indicate openness; although the hands may indicate aggression, supplication, or insecurity, depending on their position.

The Eyes Have It

People give a great deal away through their eyes. The eyes are an important factor when reading a person’s body language. When combined with body position, the eyes will provide a more accurate translation of body language.


  • Looking to the left: Eyes in this direction can mean someone is remembering something. Combined with a downward look, it indicates the self-communication. When looking up, it means facts are being recalled.
  • Sideways: Looking sideways means someone is conjuring sounds. Right, is associated with imagination, and may mean a story. Left is accessing memory.
  • Looking to the right: Looks to the right indicates imagination. It can mean guessing or lying. Combined with looking down, it means there is a self-question. Combined with looking up, it can mean lying.
  • Direct eye contact: When speaking, this means sincerity and honesty. When listening, it indicates interest.
  • Wide eyes: Widening eyes signal interest.
  • Rolled eyes: Rolled eyes mean frustration. They can be considered a sign of hostility.
  • Blinking: Frequent blinking indicates excitement. Infrequent blinking signals a boredom or concentration, depending focus.
  • Winking: A wink is a friendly gesture or secret joke.
  • Rubbing eyes: Rubbing eyes may be caused by tiredness. It can also indicate disbelief or being disturbed.
The biggest single problem in communication is the illusion it is taking place.

George Bernard Shaw

3- Body Language Mistakes

Body Language Mistakes

There are different factors that will create false body language signals. This is why it is so important to examine the positions and gestures as a whole when attempting to interpret body language. To prevent body language mistakes, become aware of these factors and think carefully when reading body language.

Poor Posture

Posture can lead to unfair judgments and prejudices. Often, poor posture is seen as a closed body language that people assume is caused by a lack of confidence. There are, however, many different reasons why someone can have poor posture. While it is true that most people can improve on their posture, the changes that can be made to a person’s musculoskeletal structure are limited. Always pay attention to other cues, and do not make rash judgments based solely on posture.

Some Causes of Poor Posture:

  • Injury: Both acute injuries and repetitive motion injuries can alter someone’s posture.
  • Illness: Autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, can damage the skeletal structure.
  • Skeletal structure: Scoliosis and other problems with the spine will affect posture.
  • Temperature: People may take a closed posture when they are cold.

Invading Personal Space

Invading personal space is seen as an act of hostility. Western societies typically use five different zones, depending on the social situations.

  1. 12 feet: This zone is for the public. The purpose is to avoid physical interaction.
  2. 4 feet: This zone is reserved for social interactions such as business settings. Touching requires the individual to move forward.
  3. 18 inches: This is a personal zone. It allows contact, and it is reserved for friends and family.
  4. 6 inches: This zone is reserved for close relationships. This zone can be invaded in crowds or sports.
  5. 0 to 6 inches: This zone is reserved for intimate relationships.

It is essential to remember that these zones are part of most Western cultures. There are reasons why people will invade personal space that have nothing to do with hostility.

Personal Space Differences:

  • Culture: Each culture has different boundaries and personal space.
  • Background: Personal history and background will affect an individual’s concept of personal space.
  • Activity: Some activities require people to work closely. This should be considered before assuming someone is invading personal space.

Quick Movements

Quick movements may be interpreted as a sign of nervousness. They may, however, be used to draw attention to specific information when speaking. Consistent jerking movements, however, do not always indicate nerves or negative emotions. Do not make a snap judgment about quick movements. There are reasons why movements may seem quick or jerking.

May alter movement:

  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Exhaustion
  • Cold


Most people fidget from time to time. In interviews and social settings, fidgeting can indicate nervousness, boredom, frustration, stress, or self-consciousness. It is an outlet to release feelings or an attempt at self-comfort. Besides emotions, there are a number of other reasons why people may fidget.

Other Reasons for Fidgeting:

  • Attention deficit disorder: ADD and ADHD are often accompanied by fidgeting.
  • Hormone imbalances: These may be accompanied by nervous energy.
  • Blood sugar imbalances: Fidgeting accompanies sugar highs.
  • Imbalanced brain chemistry: These may increase tension.
  • Medications: Steroids and other medications can cause imbalances



Soft Skills Video Series

100% Free Training

A Selection of Soft Skills Training Videos Curated from our Premium Courses and Organised in Small Chunks or Micro Learning Modules for Easy & Quick Learning.

0 responses on "Body Language Basics"

Leave a Message

© 2017 eSoftSkills Ltd- All rights reserved.
error: Alert: Content is protected !