interpersonal skills


Decoding Body Language

Body Lamguage

Decoding Body Language: What You’re Secretly Communicating About Your Leadership

What are you saying with your body language?

Like it or not, your non-verbal communication speaks louder than your words.  Many times, it’s not exactly what you intended to say.  If your team is headed in the wrong direction, you might want to step back, decode your body language and decipher what you are really telling them.

Imagine a time before the spoken word, thousands of years ago when cavemen relied on gestures and eye contact for communication. At that time, it was prudent to speak out loud only when necessary to avoid scaring away big game or attracting deadly enemies. It’s hard to imagine now that language and syntax were concepts barely in their infancy. With populations so sparse, body language was the common speech.

During those times, a simple gesture or puffing out of the chest to the clan leader at the wrong time in the wrong way could have someone in hot water or ostracized from the tribe. Meanwhile, averting the eyes at just the right moment might win over an attractive member of the opposite sex.

Here we are today in modern times dealing with the same classic issues with body language and communication. What do you think would happen if you stood up in the middle of a meeting and puffed out your chest to the division manager? Worse yet, what might happen if you turned your back when someone on your team was talking with you?Sending the right message with your non-verbals is keenly important. Your voice inflection is part of that message, but it’s not the total package.What does your body language say? Does it say you’re confident, smart, and enthusiastic—or just the opposite?

If you want to learn how to decode your body language and lead your teams more effectively, consider these practical tips below. As an added bonus, they might just help you advance your career.


The eyes truly are the windows to the soul. Be sure you’re making eye contact with those you’re having a conversation with. Glancing around the room, looking past someone or simply phasing out all indicate that you’re just not engaged in the conversation.

If you’re leading a meeting, eye contact with your audience is even more important. Keep your eyes focused on those you’re speaking with, and you’re half-way home to winning their trust.


Your posture conveys a number of factors to the people you’re with, including how you feel about your topic and even your energy level. If you’re slouched, resting your chin on your hands or crossing your legs, you’re conveying a casual attitude. This can be a big benefit in certain situations, but be careful. It can also imply carelessness.

Standing solidly on two feet conveys strength and energy. With your weight distributed on the balls of your feet, you’re ready to move. Square shoulders and chin up display confidence and self-respect.

The great thing about displaying good posture is that, even when you’re not feeling confident and interested, adopting this body language will help you feel brighter and more energetic immediately.

Arms & Hands:

When your hands are open, you’re ready to receive. With your arms outstretched or at your sides, you’re in a neutral or even a welcoming position.
Folding your arms across your chest is a great way to keep warm. After all, you’re covering your vital organs, including your heart. But it also could convey a closed attitude. Be careful how you use this gesture.


You may be surprised to learn that your feet are talking as much as your hands are, telling the story of your interest in the conversation. If you’re looking at someone but your feet are pointed toward the door, guess which way you sub-consciously want to move.

Crossing your ankles or legs indicates a casual stance or even a feeling a comfort. You’re certainly not about to go anywhere in that posture. But here again, be clear about what you want to convey. This can be great for bridging the gap, but it also could be inappropriate in formal settings. Understand what’s standing under you.


Everyone has a comfort zone, that personal space they’ll let you into. If you come closer than arm’s length, you’re likely to incite strong feelings – either of romance or anger. When you’re talking with someone, don’t encroach into their personal zone unless you’re absolutely sure you’re invited.

Using these tips for non-verbal communication may not win you any public speaking awards. On the other hand, they’ll help you keep your feet on the ground where they belong – and out of your mouth!

How To Speak with Anyone: 3 Tips for Getting Your Point Across Clearly

Does it take a PhD or English major to communicate effectively? Absolutely not! All you need is a willingness to build rapport and a few simple techniques for relating to people in their own style. Once you learn to translate your words into their language, getting people to share your point of view is a breeze.

If you want to project your vision, help others hear your message, and move them to take action, keep reading.

Who is the most effective conversationalist you know? What makes them stand-out in the crowd?

Public figures like Cicero, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan live on today because of their verbal prowess. They knew how to move nations with their ideas.

In communicating your ideas in a conversation, have you given thought to the structure you use to get your ideas to stick?

Can you imagine what it would be like to be the most persuasive project manager in your organization? Odds are if you are that person, you’ve put some work into your conversational skills.

If you want to become a skilled conversationalist, here are some practical tips, whether you want to advance your career or simply connect with others more effectively.

1. Adapt Your Style

If you want to get through to people, it helps to meet them on their own turf. For your message to be welcome, you need to sound like one of their tribe. You need to get their attention – the right kind of attention.

Sometimes it makes sense to stand-out in a crowd. The most effective communicators often work hard at blending-in to the environment.

If you want to ask a question, make a statement, or verbally compel someone to act, the first thing you want to do is blend-in. You need to seem familiar, like someone your listener would want to know.

So what’s the easiest way to do that? You can make yourself blend into their world by subtly matching the way they dwell in it – literally mirroring their moves, matching their vocal pitch and volume, adapting yourself to their style of speech. When you reflect what they’re comfortable with, they’re more likely to be comfortable with you.

Have you ever felt annoyed when someone parades into your office and they’re just a little too happy? Have your meetings been derailed by someone talking a bit too loud, interrupting the flow of the meeting and your concentration?

These people are getting your attention but in all the wrong ways. You might think of them as inconsiderate, maybe even rude. Whatever they have to say is lost on you.

Tailor your tone and style to blend with your listener’s, and you’re sure to stack the deck in your favor.

2. Match Your Speech

Countless studies have shown that people interpret the world around them according to their dominant senses. Some people call it your primary learning style. What you’ll discover in becoming an effective conversationalist is that people will reflect their primary learning style in their speech.

The way a person relates to their world is a called their Representational System: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic – sight, sound or sense. If it seems like you and that certain person are speaking a different language, maybe it’s because you really are!

Here are 3 common situations for understanding how to adapt your style of communication:

1. Sight: Is there someone who just doesn’t SEE eye to eye with you, no matter how plain your message may be?

2. Sound: Is there someone who just can’t HEAR you, even when you think you’re coming in loud and clear?

3. Sense: Is there someone who just won’t FEEL anything except the bone they have to pick with you?

Each of these situations is actually the same kind of problem wearing a different disguise.

If you’re not getting your point across clearly, successful communication may be a simple matter of matching your speech to their Representational System.

If they don’t SEE your point, help them visualize it a little more clearly. If they can’t HEAR your message, explain in words they can understand. If they won’t FEEL anything but the bone they have to pick with you, help them resolve the issues and connect the dots.

3. Ask Pointed Questions

In getting your ideas across verbally, don’t underestimate the power of asking pointed questions. The more deeply you understand your listener or conversation partner, the more relevant your discussions can be. Determine they’re style, get on their turf and use the momentum of the dialogue to communicate what’s on your mind.

You don’t have to be a PhD, English major or even a great orator to get your point across clearly. It just takes a few simple techniques to get the other person to listen, see your point, and move into action. Now that you know how, who will you move into action with your ideas.

PMI Logo1 Powered by, Inc. | Copyright © 2007 - 2018,, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

"PMBOK, PMI, PMP and REP" are trademarks, service marks or certification marks of the Project Management Institute Inc. Inc. | 3500 Lenox Road, Suite 1500 | Atlanta, GA 30326 | 404-815-4644