Body Language Etiquette: 11 Factors For Positive Body Language
Body language etiquette is the set of rules to control our body non-verbal communication, which often happens unconsciously.
Who is body language etiquette for?
Everyone should master the basics of body language etiquette to appropriately manage non-verbal communication and improve our social presence.
Body language etiquette micro-class
1) Facial expressions & smile
Facial expressions are vital for conveying emotions and reactions. They can provide insight into a person’s mood and attitude.
Example of good: A genuine smile indicates happiness or friendliness.
Example of bad: Rolling one’s eyes suggests annoyance or disrespect.
2) Eye movement
Maintaining appropriate eye contact shows confidence, attentiveness, and sincerity. It signifies engagement in the conversation. However, avoid staring or keeping uninterrupted eye contact as it can make others uncomfortable.
Example of good: Maintaining steady eye contact while listening or speaking.
Example of bad: Avoiding eye contact can be interpreted as shyness, insecurity, or dishonesty.
3) Body posture
Good posture demonstrates confidence and professionalism. Body orientation indicates interest or disinterest in the conversation. A confident posture results from a mix of non-verbal signs, such as chest out, straight shoulders, straight back, and head held high.
Example of Good: Standing or sitting up straight conveys attentiveness and self-confidence.
Example of Bad: Slouching or turning away from someone may suggest indifference or lack of confidence.
Gestures can enhance verbal communication and clarify messages. They can also reveal underlying emotions or intentions. Gesticulating conveys a lack of control or confidence. Ample gestures or pointing your finger at someone are considered bad manners.
Example of Good: Nodding in agreement while someone is speaking shows understanding and agreement.
Example of Bad: Excessive fidgeting or tapping may indicate nervousness or impatience.
Appropriate touch can convey warmth, empathy, and support. However, it is important to respect personal boundaries. The way we interpret touch largely depends on our culture and on the situation.
Example of Good: A comforting pat on the back during a difficult moment.
Example of Bad: Invading personal space or touching someone without consent can make them uncomfortable.
6) Proximity and personal space
Respect for personal space is crucial for making others feel comfortable and secure. The way we perceive proximity depends on our culture and on the situation. In general, a neutral distance is an arm’s length, or around one meter. A shorter distance shows intimacy and may make others uncomfortable, while distances over two meters can convey a lack of interest or even disgust.
Example of Good: Maintaining a comfortable distance during a conversation.
Example of Bad: Standing too close can be seen as invasive and intimidating.
Scent and smell convey messages. The type and amount of perfume can signal our personality, attitude, and intention.
Example of Good: Using perfume and deodorant in moderation.
Example of Bad: Applying too much deodorant or perfume can make others uncomfortable.
8) Tone of voice
The tone of voice can convey emotion, intention, and attitude. It complements the spoken words. Avoid speaking loudly, as it is perceived as aggressive or inconsiderate. Speaking softly can signal a lack of confidence or convey intimacy.
Example of Good: Speaking in a warm and friendly tone when offering help.
Example of Bad: Speaking in a harsh or condescending tone can create tension and conflict.
Subtly mirroring someone’s body language can establish rapport and show empathy.
Example of Good: Mirroring a person’s relaxed posture to build a connection.
Example of Bad: Exaggerated or mocking mirroring can be perceived as insincere or mocking.
Microexpressions are brief, involuntary facial expressions that can reveal hidden emotions or intentions.
Example of Good: Quickly suppressing a surprised expression during a surprise party to maintain secrecy.
Example of Bad: Unintentionally displaying anger for a split second during a polite conversation, revealing hidden frustration.
Being able to adjust your body language to different situations and individuals is crucial for effective communication.
Example of Good: Adapting your body language to be more formal in a professional setting and more relaxed among friends.
Example of Bad: Displaying the same body language in all situations, regardless of appropriateness.
Body language etiquette mistakes
Avoid the most common body language mistakes:
- Not managing your body language.
- Displaying negative emotions.
- Disrespecting other people’s personal space.
- Failing to align your spoken words with consistent body language.