How to Turn Nonverbal Cues in Your Favor

Have you ever walked away from a conversation feeling like it didn’t go well but you couldn’t quite figure out why? We are often so focused on our side of the conversation and making sure we get our point across that we fail to see subtle but significant nonverbal cues. They are easy to miss if you don’t pay attention. Master them and you’ll be able to quickly shift the direction of a meeting or conversation in your favor.

Here are some nonverbal cues to watch for during your next business conversation:

  1. Sit up straight (but not stiff) and lean forward. This signals listeners that you are engaged and interested. If your listener is leaning too far back it leaves a negative impression and can signal that they don’t agree, are annoyed or simply disinterested.

  2. Maintaining eye contact is always a good sign that the person is engaged and interested in what you have to say.

  3. Blinking in sync is a sign that you are building a strong rapport with the individual.

  4. On the other hand, quick glances can signal that the person is looking for an excuse to end the conversation. You may be taking too long to make your point or droning on. Be mindful that you stay on topic.

  5. Tilting the head and looking to the side means the person is trying to recall information. This is a perfect opportunity to probe for more information.

  6. If the person is mirroring your body language movements, that is a good sign that you are aligned and the conversation is going well.

  7. Rapid eye movement can be a sign of two things, hard thinking or lying.

  8. Touching the face signals nervousness and can be distracting to listeners.

  9. Tapping and fidgeting are signs of stress, nervousness and boredom.

  10. When holding a meeting around a conference table, keep in mind that seat location can be an indicator of how a person participates in a meeting. The person at the head of the table wants to be in control. Individuals who sit in the middle tend to want to build rapport with the group.

  11. Taking up space at work (whether you are sitting at a conference table or standing in the hallway) indicates that you are confident and comfortable in your own skin.

Next time you have a conversation with your manager, co-worker or even a friend focus on these non-verbal queues and see what you learn. Share with me your experiences in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!


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Margaret Batting - Professional Development Consultant, Executive Coach, Brand Strategist and Keynote Speaker, Servicing Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Beyond
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