This post is part of our look at “Body Language Basics”. You can read my introduction and see links to all posts in the series here.
I’ve touched on a few of these bad habits it my previous posts but I thought that these bad habits warranted a post all of their own as they’re something that we’re all guilty of but are easily fixable once you realise that you’re doing them.
This is by no means a definitive list but these are some of the worst offences that I think you should be aware of – and avoid.
So, in no particular order here’s what you shouldn’t be doing when trying to communicate with people effectively.
Having a weak handshake
In my post about body language for good communication I gave some tips for how to give a good handshake. You cannot underestimate the importance of how badly a weak handshake will come across to the person you’re trying to make a good impression with.
Bad posture shows that you don’t care how people perceive you. And if you don’t care about you, you can’t care about anyone else, right?
Covering Your Mouth
This has a three-fold effect on good communication. It’s putting a barrier between you and the other person, it’s subconsciously indicating that you’re being dishonest in what you’re saying – hiding your mouth indicates you’re hiding your words, and thirdly it’s stopping people lip reading which for some people is an important factor in how they listen to you.
Again, this is acting as a barrier between you and the person you’re dealing with. You’re basically saying to them “I don’t really want to be here”. It’s a defensive posture that will make the other person wary of placing any trust in you.
Looking The Wrong Way When Answering A Question
Where you look can indicate whether you’re being truthful or not. Bifaloo has a great post on eye direction and its meaning for communication so I won’t bore you with details but suffice it to say, don’t look left!
Not Maintaining eye contact
Having a shifty look about you is certainly the main way to put someone off building a rapport with you. Not maintaining eye contact shows a lack of trust and possible deceit, and at it’s “best” it shows that you’re not interested and have your attention focussed somewhere else.
Repetitive Feet/Pen/Finger Tapping or Leg Jiggling
I can’t iterate enough how much I hate repetitive tapping of any kind. Not only does it show that you’re not paying full attention to what is being discussed, at some point it will become all I can focus on so communication goes out of the window completely.
Sitting with your legs wide apart (especially with men) shows that you are trying to dominate the situation, you’re taking up space and exerting yourself over other people. This makes other people very uncomfortable and can act as a massive barrier to good communication as there could be an attempt to wrestle back dominance or the other party just switches off completely.
Hands Behind Head
Just as with having your legs spread, this is more of a male attribute but it’s still really annoying. putting your hands behind your head and baring your armpits is another show of dominance. It’s used to intimidate others and doesn’t make for good rapport.
Hands On Hips
Can show a sign of impatience or frustration. This isn’t going to foster good relations when you’re trying to form a mutually agreeable compromise.
Playing With Gadgets
Need I say anything about this? Well I will because it’s really annoying! If you’re talking to someone, please give them your full attention otherwise what’s the point of holding a conversation in the first place? Sure, you may need to take an important call but please be polite and excuse yourself properly and whatever you do leave Candy Crush alone.
What Do You Think?
Do people use good body language on purpose because they’re aware of it? Perhaps they’re just trying to rile you to get a reaction, or maybe they’re doing it on purpose to assert their dominance – what do you think?
Have I missed a really annoying body language style that you really hate? If so, let us know in the comments.
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