What does this body language mean 1


It goes without saying that you are well prepared for important appointments such as applications or negotiations. We would not forgive ourselves for professionally disappointing. And yet we often experience that people who appear to us to be far less qualified and well prepared do better in crucial conversation situations, make contact more easily, seem to be "on the same wavelength" with the other person and are simply more successful in communication. This causes frustration, especially among very performance-oriented people.

Verbal messages are overrated

The famous sentence of the communication scientist Paul Watzlawick "You cannot not communicate" already suggests that the spoken word is not everything. And indeed: only 7 percent of what someone says determines the impression they make on the other person. As it is said, the tonality of the voice determines 38 percent of the perception.

The remaining 55 percent of perception is made up of visual impressions, i.e. posture, facial expressions and gestures, tone of voice and clothing. In other words: the factual level, i.e. the purely linguistic message, makes up only a small part of communication compared to the relationship level. But we can use body language to reinforce and better convey our verbal messages - provided that they are congruent.

We want to reveal a few secrets of non-verbal communication in this article.

Deciphering body language - what use is it to us?

So that no false expectations are aroused: you can misunderstand yourself with body language as well as with verbal utterances. There are body language expressions around the world that are interpreted in a similar way across cultural boundaries, such as smiles. Many expressions in body language, however, are learned like a language and shaped by cultural, social and family affiliation and are also used individually depending on the situation.

Nonetheless, non-verbal communication is also a direct expression of emotions, much more direct than the spoken word. And already in the first few seconds of an encounter, we evaluate a person, assign them a sympathy value and make assumptions about their competence. Incidentally, our ability to empathize correlates with our ability to perceive ourselves. To interpret body language correctly - but also to use it consciously - helps us to react sensitively to the sensitivities of our fellow human beings.

Recognize incongruent messages

An example: The HR manager asks the applicant the following question in the interview:
"What do you think qualifies you in particular for the advertised position?"
And the applicant gives a detailed answer, but his voice sounds tight and hoarse, almost muttering. His posture is hunched and after the first few words he avoids eye contact.

What effect does this statement have on the hiring manager? Verbally, the applicant has correctly put forward everything he wanted to say, because after all he is qualified. However, it sends out opposite signals non-verbally and acoustically. The HR manager will interpret this for himself. He may attribute the pressed voice to the candidate's excitement.

Together with the lack of eye contact, however, he could also get the idea that the verbal statements do not correspond to the truth and that his counterpart is therefore ashamed. Or he will believe that the applicant is disinterested and weak.
The job-seeker has no control over how the HR manager interprets his voice. But everyone can learn how to support verbal messages that are important to them using body language and the tonality of their voice.

The tonality of the voice

A confident, clear voice can support the meaning of verbal statements.

A convincing appearance includes, for example

  • clear speaking

  • fluent speaking

  • wise use of speaking pauses

  • verbally emphasizing statements that are particularly important

  • relaxed, straight posture

Better to be avoided

  • Raising the voice at the end of a sentence.
    All too easily, a request sounds like a question about what is at the expense of the authority of a verbal statement. Example: "Please tell me the price".

  • Mumble and whisper
    This radiates insecurity and makes listening difficult.

  • Excessive volume
    This can be interpreted as dominant behavior.

Facial expressions: the body language of the face

The use of facial expressions is a particularly sharp sword.

Our facial muscles can express a myriad of different emotions. They are able to express them spontaneously as well as to use them in a controlled manner. In important situations, an open facial expression and eye contact signals our willingness to dialogue and that we show our interlocutor interest and attention. The best prerequisite for a good discussion result.

We achieve the opposite with the so-called "poker face". With immobile facial muscles, we unsettle our counterparts and provoke skepticism, distrust and distance. We convey many strong emotions through our facial expressions:

  • a critically furrowed brow,

  • a wrinkled nose in disgust,

  • disapproving raised eyebrows

In professional contexts, a well-measured or conscious and economical use is recommended, because "derailed" facial features quickly appear uncontrolled.

  1. Before critical negotiations
    Proper preparation is half the battle for a successful negotiation.
  2. Research work
    The more thoroughly you prepare for the negotiation, the fewer surprises you can expect.
  3. Important questions
    Ask yourself: what do I want? What I do not want? What do I have to achieve at least? Who is my counterpart and what does he want?
  4. Know alternatives
    Before an important negotiation, you should study the alternatives.
  5. Negotiate the salary
    For example, if you want to negotiate your salary, find out beforehand what you can earn with your performance elsewhere.
  6. Offer-plus technology
    With this technique, you take alternatives with you into the negotiation that you are prepared to forego - for example a visit to a congress.
  7. Demand breaks
    If the conversation is about to slip away, ask for a 10-minute break and leave the room to reflect.
  8. Shortly to the toilet
    You can also force a short break by briefly saying goodbye to the toilet.
  9. Spilling coffee
    Even if it sounds silly - if you don't see any other option for a break, pour the coffee over your trousers.

Use the gestures to underline statements positively

Our verbal statements receive effective support through the use of gestures. If one were to say the statement "I am glad that you are here" with folded arms, the person addressed would have every reason to feel unwelcome - regardless of the enthusiasm and intensity of the verbal statement. We intuitively accompany our statements with movements of our arms and hands, even on the phone when nobody is watching.

  • Gestures with open palms have an inviting effect in negotiation or application situations and support the flow of conversation.

  • Negative hand movements such as raised index fingers or clenched fists appear aggressive.

If you appear confident, nervous gestures should be avoided. These include, for example:

  • rubbing their hands

  • play with a ballpoint pen

  • look at the clock

  • cross your legs.

On the other hand, a slightly tilted head and an upper body leaning towards the person you are talking to appear concentrated and interested.

Learn from the body language of the powerful

There are people who fill entire rooms with their presence. You exude natural authority. Your voice is firm and strong, your gestures are calm and flowing, you represent your concerns confidently and confidently.
With executives, this dominance is often perceived as congruent behavior and some executives may owe their position in part to their confident demeanor.

And then there is that Body language of power. It is often used when it comes to intimidating the - subordinate - interlocutor and asserting oneself. In a conversation with superiors or clients, it is easy to determine whether the other person emphasizes the distance and his or her superior position by means of body language or whether, on the contrary, the focus of the conversation is on the mutual interest and result orientation for the conversation partner as well.

Examples of hierarchical behavior

  • lack of eye contact,

  • clenched lips,

  • Conversation partner stands while you sit,

  • the posture is half turned away,

  • The conversation partner devotes himself to another activity (calendar, mobile phone, etc.) during the conversation,

  • Interlocutor is literally "buttoned up".

Examples of cooperative behavior

  • facing posture and eye contact signal interest

  • open hands,

  • equal standing or sitting,

  • The other party repeats the gestures and thus prompts them to continue speaking.

The personal state of excellence

And what is the best way to meet someone with hierarchical behavior who does not encourage communication at all? It is best to take note of this fact and not be discouraged by it. It also makes no sense to waste time trying to figure out the reason for your negative (body) posture. It is more effective to use the time to concentrate on your own message and the way you communicate.

The basic requirement for a positive conversation is your own conviction? Another helpful point is the state in which the person raising the issue is. The following things can contribute to a positive charisma:

  • An important conversation should take place in a rested state.

  • Comfortable clothing that fits the situation makes you feel safe and respectable.

  • An upright posture and taut shoulders not only influence the mood, but also create an appropriate presence and eye level with the other person.

  • A smile shows the other person good intentions.

  • Pay attention to the use of the tonality of the voice, gestures and facial expressions, as described in the previous sections.

Mirror Mirror on the wall ...

All procedures that can positively influence the course of a conversation can also be played through beforehand at home in front of the mirror.

This is no guarantee that a conversation will be successful, but all the prerequisites have been created to represent a position as well as possible. And this coherent and clear communication - we call it "good vibration" - will be remembered by the conversation partner.