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Body Language and Nonverbal Communication Skills

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Posted 22 August 2014 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your Nonverbal Communication skills training.

Body language and nonverbal communication skills

Face to face communication is of two fundamental types:

  1. Verbal communication
  2. Nonverbal communication

Verbal communication: is the use of words; Language.

Non-verbal communication is made up from: Voice tone and body language.

You gain a lot of information about the other person from the way they look and how they sound- apart from the words they use.

Let us look at each category of non-verbal communication and see what benefit we might gain.

Body language Non-verbal communication is made from:

  1. Posture
  2. Appearance
  3. Touch
  4. Gestures
  5. Eye contact
  6. Facial expression
  7. Orientation
  8. Proximity

Here are some specific notes on each aspect:


Posture is how you stand or sit.
Are you upright or slouching?
Straight or bent?
Stand straight and more erect.

This implies that you have energy and good health and are awake.
If you are leaning or slouching, this implies you are lacking in energy, sick or sleepy.
So learn to sit and stand with a straighter posture and people will think you are still awake!

Personal Appearance and dress

How are you dressed?
Are you well groomed and tidy or not?
Generally speaking, people do judge others on appearance.
Your brain says to itself "if it looks like a lion, it is probably a lion".
"If she is dressed in a police uniform she is likely to be a police officer".
If you look well groomed and "together"; you will be judged as "together" in other habits.
Whether that is true or not.

If you are scruffy and shabby in appearance- you are likely to be judged as shabby in other habits.

Whether that is true or not.

So why risk it. Dress in cloths twice as good and buy half as many.
Don't look sloppy.


Sometimes you have to touch people.
Touch includes handshakes.
You gain information from people from their handshake.
Make your handshake firm and slightly longer than is normal.
Look at the person as you are shaking his-her hand and as you do; MEMORISE THEIR NAME.


By "gestures" we mean hand gestures.

Avoid at all costs;

  1. Pointing with your finger
  2. Pointing with a pen

Instead Use open handed gestures to emphasise points.

Facial expression

Facial expression counts for a lot.
Best advice here is: Smile frequently.
A smile will cause people to warm to you, emotionally.
Do not frown too often or for too long.
A frown suggests "DANGER" to the subconscious mind.
It will assume "this person is in trouble - and it pays to keep away from trouble".

Smiling suggests confidence, friendliness and success.
So smile frequently.

Eye contact

Should you look into the others eyes or not?.
The easiest rule is: give as much eye contact as the other is giving you.
If they are not looking directly into your eyes, do not glare at them.
If they are looking into your eyes.
Reflect their eye contact back.
Don't evade the eye contact of another.


Orientation is the angle at which you stand or sit relative to the other person.
Avoid the square-on position.

Square on raises the intensity of emotion and suggests either:

  1. Aggressive thoughts
  2. Sexual thoughts

In business context you might not want either.
So sit at an angle to the other- about 45 degrees is about right.


Proximity is the measure of how close you are to the other person.

This varies considerably depending on;

  • The context
  • The relationship
  • The activity
  • The gender of people involved
  • The age of people involved
  • The person's cultural norms
  • The person's character

My best advice on distance is similar to that for eye contact.
Notice the others responses and operate according to the others habits.

If the other person is distant- don't crowd him.
If the other person wants to get close- don't back away.

Reflect the other person's character in your own movements.
At work, sit or stand at an angle to the other- about 45 degrees.

Notes for voice tone

Voice tone refers to:

  1. Pitch
  2. Volume
  3. Pace

Notes on pitch

Pitch is the measure of how high or low you voice tones sound.
Best to use lower end of your voice range.
Deeper tones imply more authority and confidence.
High pitched squeaky voice suggests immaturity and lack of authority.
So use the lower end of your voice range.

Notes on volume

Volume relates to how loud your voice is.
Generally it is better to speak slightly louder.
A message delivered in a louder voice is judged to be more confident and more certain.
A quiet voice is judged to be lacking in confidence.

Notes on Pace

Pace is the measure of speed of delivery.
The best general advice is: speak slightly slower.
Slower speech delivery gives the listener time to think about what you are saying.
It makes what you are saying seem well- thought- out
A fast talker is often seen as "slick" and having an ill thought out message.
So, within reason- slow down and speak up!

You gain a lot of information about the other person from their non-verbal communication is made up from: Voice tone and body language.

In relation to body language:

  1. Stand with a straighter posture.
  2. Dress in cloths twice as good and buy half as many.
  3. Make your handshake firm and slightly longer than normal.
  4. Use open handed gestures to emphasise points.
  5. Smile frequently.
  6. Reflect the other persons level of eye contact.
  7. Notice the others responses and operate according to the others habits.

In relation to voice tone:

  1. Use lower end of your voice range
  2. Speak slightly louder
  3. Speak slightly slower

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