Why are you staring at me like that?

by Betty Lochner on November 10, 2010

If you ask your friend, “What’s wrong?” and she shrugs her shoulders, frowns, turns away and mutters, “Oh, nothing.” You probably don’t believe her words. You believe something is bothering her because of her body language, right?

Your body language, also known as your non verbal communication, says more for you than you may think. Your body movements, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, posture, even how much distance you put between yourself and the other person communicates for you whether you intend it or not.

Your body language speaks for you

Incredibly, your body language is responsible for more than half of what you communicate. So, it will serve you well to pay close attention to how you are communicating without words.

One of the reasons we can get the wrong message out, is that most of us aren’t really all that self aware about what our body language is saying.We may think we have it all together, but often we are giving off signals that we don’t realize.

For example, do you know when you are you putting people off, or giving the message that you don’t care? Are you sending signals that you don’t intend to send by the way you are standing, moving, even staring? Are you looking away, crossing your arms, or unknowingly scowling? Do you look uninterested, bored, and distracted? Are you shuffling your feet?

I challenge you to start to pay more attention to what body language cues you give. Here are three small changes you can make to make your body language better match what you are trying to communicate:

1. Start by noticing what your body position is.

Is your body open? Try to keep your  arms down at your side, not crossed, folded, or in some other position. And, please don’t catch yourself clenching your fists.

2. Now, pay attention to the conversation and resist distractions.

Don’t look away, down, or at anything else but who you are talking with. In the American culture, good eye contact and a smile can greatly improve the impression people have of you.

3. Keep your body position at the same level as the person you are communicating with.

If they are sitting, sit. If they are standing, stand and meet their eye level. Don’t give off the feeling of a power difference.  That may be what they remember instead of what you say.

These three little things will help you better connect, rather than disconnect with your body language. Try them out, then ask a friend to give you feedback on how you are doing.

Do you have other tips for improving your body language? Please leave a comment and share them here!


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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