Body Language Speaks Volumes…Are Your Antennas Up?

handshake_optI consider myself  a “people” person.  For me that means that I’m open and engaging and I encourage people to interact with me.  I recognize that not everyone is an extrovert, and not everyone is even comfortable around this type of personality.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to both exhibit and present at the Long Island Spring Home Show to raise awareness about my Organizing profession. My colleagues and I exhibited as a group representing NAPO, our affiliated organization.  This was such an enlightening experience that  spoke to the unique characteristics of human behavior.

As an exhibitor, one of our goals was to draw visitors into our booth, engage them, ignite interest, and leave a lasting impression. We experimented standing within the booth, both behind and in front of our table. We also took turns leaving the booth altogether, roaming the Expo room, in hopes of “catching” a passerby and luring them back to our booth. What we discovered that the latter method was way more intimidating and proved to be far less effective. “In your face” sales tactics sometimes feel more threatening because it trespasses people’s comfort “space.”

There were immeasurable take-a-ways that I gleaned from these strategies.  The body language expressed by the passerby’s were so powerfully telling.  They didn’t need to utter a word.  I got an immediate sense if there was any interest at all. As it turned out and based upon the results of new client leads,  my perceptions were “spot on” from the very first glance.   I found that one of the key components of body language was eye contact.  Here’s how I classified the visitors;

The CommitterAvailable. Actively seeking information or help, genuinely interested.

The Chatter– no real interest in what we were “selling,” no real agenda other than to just chat about themselves regarding how “disorganized ” they were,  or on the contrary,  boastful that they were so “very organized.”

The Poker– Approached multiple times, inquisitive but pretending to be only “somewhat” interested but still non-committal.

The Stroller– Casual, laissez-faire attitude. The ideal passerby. Initially made eye contact but their automatic reflex was to look away.

The Stalker– Repeatedly passed by with questionable intent (other than dipping into the free candy dish),  but was reluctant to confront. Hovered, but it was evident they were undecided or perhaps had a hidden agenda.

The Dismisser– When approached,  exuded a condescending attitude, clarifying that they were unequivocally in no need of organizing services.

The Avoider– No eye contact, no interest.

I think it’s a really great life skill to read body language accurately.  The ability to perceive or detect subliminal sensors without even so much as a conversation, is invaluable in both business and in everyday life.  Once a dialogue is initiated, it’s equally important to acknowledge these cues during the interaction as well.  If you are cognizant, you can retrieve priceless information.

So if body language speaks volumes…are you reading them loud and clear?  Do you think that you are a good detector?

In fact, each and every one of us are also projectors. If we pay close attention, we all subconsciously emit a particular attitude with our bodies. How many times have you exuded the body language of Avoider or the Stroller?   I know I have. (mostly when the perfume sales rep in a department stores encroaches to sell me a new fragrance, lol)

Body language is a powerful non-verbal communicator.  The movements of the arms and legs can also convey a great deal of information. Crossed arms might indicate that a person is defensive and closed. Crossed legs “away” from another person might imply dis-interest.  Standing with hands on hips might indicate a person is commanding attention, in control, or ready. Open arms is perceived as a welcoming gesture (open for engagement), and conversely,  arms close to the body can be interpreted as a person who withdraws from attention, in effort to minimize oneself. These are just some examples of subtle signals that can make huge and lasting impressions.

Unfortunately from this vantage point, I cannot hear you nor see you.  But I bet if you were right next to me, I would probably sense how you’re feeling about all this.   Instead, I invite you to share your perspectives and experiences right here.  Inquiry minds need to know 🙂

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