The Dangers of Being A Business Body Language Pro
by Barbara Chatzkel
Once you are aware of business body language, you begin to unconsciously observe what is happening around you through the lens of business body language. This spills over into your personal life at home, with friends, or standing in the supermarket checkout line.
My favorite personal story occurred recently. My husband and I were sitting at the dining room table having one of our periodic calendar/planning meetings. We matched our calendars for the week, then began to discuss several issues that required us to collaborate. One item was a bit contentious. Suddenly his body language changed and sent a huge alarm. He had turned his feet and his body away from me toward the dining room exit. Our dining room table is glass, so the changes in his feet were very evident.
What do you think was going on?
Yes, he had “left the building.” While his face was still directed toward me, the rest of his body (and his attention!) were someplace else.
I asked him if he wanted to re-engage in the conversation and explained how I figured out that he wasn’t a part of the conversation any more. His response was, “You know too much about body language. I have to pay attention all the time!”
My lesson learned is to be gentle and nonconfrontational in providing feedback based on the business body language I observe. You don’t want people to be wary of interacting with you for fear of a constant body language audit. The reality is that you are always “on” and you never stop looking at body language.
I do use my ever-present scanning function to create humor when I speak to groups. As I am waiting to be introduced, I look at the “group” body language, as well as individual body language. My opening might be:
Hi, my name is Barbara Chatzkel, and I’m the Body Language Pro. I’ve been watching you and I know a lot about all of you. (Gesturing toward one individual.) The gentleman in the blue striped shirt – I hope you can resolve whatever is bothering you because you are broadcasting angry messages. (Nervous laughter from audience) And the woman in the green dress, I’m so happy to see you because you are wearing a big smile and your body language is open and receptive. (More laughter) Thank you so much for being here.
Relax and enjoy your business body language powers. Remember – don’t use your expertise for evil.
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 2016. Visit her website today for further information.