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5 body language mistakes to avoid

By Nirva Vira
Last updated on: February 04, 2016 19:23 IST
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Did you know that nodding too much can make you seem spineless or sycophantic?

Read on to find out how you can perfect your body language.

Body language mistakesAre you questioning why certain things aren't going your way even when you're saying all the right things?

Maybe it's not about your words at all. Maybe it's something else.

In an interpersonal, normal interaction, our body talks a lot more than our mouth does.

It certainly doesn't help that the message it puts across is vague and is perceived differently by different people.

You do not have to be saying something for your audience can easily read into it.

A simple action like flexing your fingers can speak a thousand words and give out messages that can either make or break the conversation.

Here are five body language mistakes we commit, but never notice.

#1. The lean

While making conversation, many of us get carried away and become unaware about our bodily movements.

The forward and backward lean is something that sneaks in and ruins our conversation without us even realising it.

Leaning slightly forward during a conversation signifies interest but a little more and you could be playing the risky terrain that is personal space.

The ideology of personal space varies across cultures and one must be mindful of maintaining a decent distance from the person they are conversing with.

Leaning backwards however screams blatant disinterest and disrespect.

It tells the opposite person that either you do not consider him worth listening to or are just going to counter him irrespective of what he says.

When the conversation is about your responsibilities, a backward lean could make you look laid back and uncaring.

To understand this little concept of leaning better, draw front and backward slanting lines on a piece of paper and concentrate on the emotions you counter while drawing each line.

#2. The limb cross

Crossing your limbs, be it your arms or ankles, is a statement your body is making.

This statement, however, is not a very positive one.

Crossing your arms during a conversation makes you look defensive and while answering questions, in fight mode.

If you cross your arms during a seminar or a lecture, it gives off the 'I don't find you worth listening to' vibe.

Crossing your ankles with your legs spread in front of you during a serious conversation is also a no-no. It makes you look disinterested and too relaxed.

#3. The excessive nod

It is a good practice to nod at people while listening to them as it shows you are interested in what they are talking and are paying attention.

Although sometimes, when we are bored, tired or genuinely do not wish to pay attention to the person talking, we nod too much to make up for it.

Now, you may not realize it, but the person you are talking to may find this constant nodding patronising and insulting.

This puts people off and gives of a very bad impression about you.

You can be assumed to be arrogant or too self-indulging, people won't bother taking your exhaustion into account.

Also, nodding too much can make you seem spineless or sycophantic.

Next time when you are tired or disinterested to pay attention to the conversation, be mindful of how often you nod, you could also count to forty-five in your head before every nod.

#4. The constant eye-contact

What happens when you maintain constant eye-contact? You come off as creepy.

It is well known how important maintaining eye contact with your audience is, but if your audience is just one person, it is important to look away for a few seconds.

Looking at the person for too long will make them feel uncomfortable and make your conversation awkward.

Also remember to not look at the person's mouth or forehead.

A safe area to look at is the triangle that the eyebrows and nose make.

Staring at the forehead intimidates the person while staring at the mouth seems inappropriate.

#5. The fidget mania

Everybody is familiar with this. Either you are guilty of it or have felt the irritation it causes.

Constant fidgeting is a sign of nervousness, insecurity and instability. It shows lack of confidence and trust.

During a conversation, fidgeting may also be perceived as a sign of dishonesty and deceit.

Constant shaking of your leg, twisting your fingers, tapping your fingers on a table or playing with a pen are some common blunders we sub-consciously commit and overlook.

In order to control your fidgeting, make sure your hands are relaxed by your side while standing and resting casually on your thighs while sitting.

Keep conscious of your legs and reduce wobbling. Also, no matter how anxious you feel, do not allow your hands to go anywhere near your face.

This is something many people do very often and don't realise it.

Touching your face constantly doesn't paint a very confident and reliable picture of you, so refrain from doing this.

With our usual mindless bodily actions creating space for unnecessary miscommunication, it is necessary to pay heed to the small blunders we commit.

How to use body language to your advantage

1. Exude power, spread your presence

Simply standing with your legs a little further apart and claiming more space through gestures, builds a powerful aura around you.

The more space you claim, more power you seem to command.

Since power helps calm, you will also do away with your nervousness.

2. Sit straight

Sitting straight will automatically make you look and feel attentive, confident and enthusiastic.

3. Gesture while talking

Usage of gestures (in a moderated amount) involves and invites your audience into the conversation.

It also gives you a more open and intelligent look.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

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