Does Your Body Language Drown Out Your Words?


Picture of a meeting.

We have all caught little kids in body language that says, “I didn’t do it!” or “I’m scared!” or “ I know a secret.” They seem so transparent, but sometimes we are too.

Are You Guilty Too?

When the meeting runs too long and you just slide down in your chair a little as you check your messages, you are sending a direct signal. You couldn’t care less about what is going on and you are more than ready for it to be over. Unfortunately, that body language can be quite visible.

Here are some more signals that we sometimes send.

Sneaking glances at the time and checking messages

We all run on fairly tight schedules, but when you just cannot resist rechecking the time your schedule may need a little more float time. Try to allow small breaks between meetings. Otherwise all of your effort may be wasted by little tipoffs like this.

Faking smiles and nods

Sometimes we have heard everything that is being said already, and we pretend to be interested. But it might be better to actually look for a new angle on the discussion instead of just trying to slide through it.

Raising eyebrows or staring intently

If the meeting discussion does not fit your view, try to avoid broadcasting it. Wait until you have the chance and then ask questions to make your point in a positive way.

Adding smiles & side remarks while someone is speaking

Sometimes it is irresistible to comment to your neighbor, but usually totally unappreciated by everyone else.

Drumming your fingers or shuffling papers

Yes, sometimes someone speaks too long or restates the obvious. But making it clear that you are bored says something about you too.

Saying one thing and projecting another

If you agree say so. If you don’t, explain why. But don’t try to just slide through with a nod that pretty much says you are not enthused.

Watch for the signals to avoid

You can learn a lot if you look around in a meeting and see people frowning, over reacting, or thumping the table versus those who are actually smiling, backing up their words with honest enthusiasm, and genuinely trying to communicate.

Most of us are quick to read the real messages being sent and we just have to be sure we are sending good ones too. Nothing makes a situation go sideways faster than the wrong signals.


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