Business body language – Where do I start?

Business body language – Where do I start?

by Barbara Chatkel

When you look at a person in a business context, what do you focus on first?biz body language Most people answer “the face” or “the eyes.” And there’s a reason for that. Of the body’s five “broadcast centers,” the face sends out the most signals, as well as the strongest ones.

Business body language can be confusing if you don’t know how to parse and interpret all the messages. Today’s post provides you with the road map to begin deciphering the thousands of body language messages people broadcast continuously and mostly unconsciously.

Listed in order of importance, the body’s five broadcast centers are:

1. Face
2. Feet and legs
3. Arms
4. Torso
5. Hands and fingers

Within each area, the body sends out multiple signals. For example, how many separate areas on the face can you look to for individual messages? At least ten! Simultaneously, the movements of your forehead, eye brows, eyelids, pupils, nostrils, upper lip, smile, tongue, ear lobes, and chin are accompanying yours words with multiple distinct messages.

The skill is to segment this cacophony of messages into sensible groupings to decode the complete message. Additionally, looking at several individual message can help validate the “real” message. Interpreting just one message in isolation can result in incorrect assumptions. For example, if someone’s eyes are partially closed, are they telling a lie or do they have a cold? Check out their lips — what is going on there? A partial smile, a smirk, a hint of a frown? Each combination offers its own distinct message.

Too complicated? Don’t worry. From infancy, we have the ability to scan the face and understand what is happening around us. A four-month-old infant understands the reaction she receives when she displays a “social smile.” She also recognizes the meta signal being sent by the caregiver holding her. Grandparents and parents, take a moment to think about how effective that little girl is at making you smile. She’s a body language pro before she can even crawl!

Next month’s blog will discuss the details of facial body language. Master the ways to be more effective in your business by understanding what your face is saying about you.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Barbara Chatzkel’s ability to provide a vibrant and behavior-changing book extends Chatzkelacross industry segments – everyone uses business body language. Her coaching and consulting expertise on business body language grew from conducting union negotiations, managing difficult personnel situations, managing at multiple levels, and extensive business coaching experience. Her new book, Business Body Language: Your Visual Business Card, will be available in print in early 2015. Visit her website today for further information.

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