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Nonverbal Communication: How to Read Body Language

As a business and communication coach, I spent a lot of time helping people understand how to SPEAK, but I would be remiss not to mention the power of body language. 

When you understand this aspect of human behavior, you have another tool in your tool belt – another way to evaluate your audience, or gauge how interested someone is in what you have to say. You can also see if you’re not quite reaching them the way you’d like, and that might help you decipher if the person you’re talking to is a member of your tribe or not, or if you need to pivot your way of approaching them. 

There are two basic ideas I want you to understand here – outward energy (described well by Amy Cuddy in her TED Talk), or extroverted body language, and inward energy, or introverted body language. One communicates confidence, or energy, and openness, and the other often communicates thinking and introspection, or in extreme cases of discomfort – brooding uncertainty.

If you want to get really good at reading this aspect of communication in others, start by thinking about your own body language. When are you feeling more open or more introverted? Are you standing up tall, crossing your legs, biting your nails, looking down, or up? Are you smiling or serious? These gestures send a message, so being aware of them will help you know what you’re saying to the world. 

Start by noticing your own, then notice other peoples’ body language. Are they receptive, are they closed, are they moving away, or toward you? You might think you read people pretty well – but I promise there are nuances we just don’t notice. 

Let’s say you’re pitching yourself at a networking event. Think about how the other person is receiving that information. See if you can open or transform someone’s body language from closed to open! (Turn it into a game perhaps.) That will give you important feedback about your effectiveness. 

When you tap into the power of this, you can engage your listener more deeply. Body language is very powerful for you and your business, so I challenge you to notice this in yourself and others as much as possible this week! 

Alexa Fischer

Meet Alexa Fischer

Wishbeads founder Alexa Fischer is an actress, teacher, author, and speaker whose work helps people go after their dreams, build their confidence, and break free from fear. It’s time to ignite your light.

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