A Body Language Take on the Holidays
by Barbara Chatzkel, The Body Language Pro
It is nearly certain that during the holiday season you will either be a part of or get to observe a family – or large group – gathering. The holidays are a great time to observe body language “conversations.”
As an observer, I enjoy watching the body language of groups. Even though I don’t know the individual family or group members, within five minutes I can fairly accurately describe the hierarchy of the particular group I’m observing, as well as note which individuals are enjoying themselves.
There’s no need to eavesdrop on the “scene in progress”; you can learn a lot from simply observing across the room.
If you will be attending a holiday or family gathering, the tips below may help. To be sure you have a great time, quickly consider your own body language: What are the unspoken messages you are broadcasting about your feelings?
Here are some tips for you about body language, particularly as it pertains to the larger groupings we come upon during the holidays.
- Feet broadcast very strong messages – and the best thing is that feet DO NOT LIE.
- If people are standing in a group, observe where their feet are pointing. It will be to the leader or most powerful person in the group.
- If you are speaking with someone and their feet are not pointing directly at you, they are not involved in the conversation and want to move on. You have two choices: either end the conversation or change the subject.
- Watch people who are sitting. bouncing feet and jiggling legs are an indication that they are bored, disengaged, or wish they were someplace else.
- Tightly crossed ankles when a person is seated convey fear and emotions being held in. Approach at your own risk!
- Hand signals – most of tend to move our hands a lot but give very little thought to the message these movements send.
- Take care when pointing. It’s perfectly fine to point at an object like a table, a painting, or a spot on a map. However, avoid pointing at people. The message that hand signal conveys is never a pleasant one; there’s disapproval, reprimand, and many other emotions wrapped up there. Remember how you felt when your parents or a teacher pointed at you?
- Palms up! If you gesture often with your hands, pay attention to which direction your palms face. A palms-up gesture is open and positive. By pulling upturned palms toward you, it becomes a welcoming and inclusive gesture. These gestures will increase the happiness quotient in any group situation.
I hope these body language tips help make your holiday and family gathering more enjoyable.
Happy New Year!
Barbara Chatzkel’s ability to provide a vibrant and behavior-changing book extends across 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.