What message are you sending via your body language?

I have been watching a TV series called “Lie To Me” with Tim Roth as the main star. The story is about a team of highly trained and talented specialists that can determine if people are telling the truth or lying by observing signals in someone’s facial micro expressions, body language and vocal tonality. They use their skills to find out why someone is telling an untruth to solve complex crime. Absolutely fascinating show (I thoroughly recommend it) and I have learnt quite a few techniques from it.

It got me thinking about how I have been observing people’s body language and verbal communication for my work over the 15+ years as a recruiter. Body language is not an exact science and not scientifically valid, you can argue that is all hocus pocus. In my own experience, it works for more cases than not.

Whether we like it or not (maybe the judgmental gene in all of us), we tend to make an informed judgment on someone we meet for the first time based on the person’s looks, communications style and tonality of voice, body language in the very first few minutes. First impressions, gut feel, personal chemistry…whatever you want to call it. Hence, first impressions can be important.Sometimes we only have one chance to make a lasting first impression (e.g. when we go for an interview for a job).

Do you know what your body language and verbal communication says about you? Most people have no idea how they come across. Here’s an exercise you can do to be more self aware. Sit in front of a mirror, video yourself or Skype cam answering questions from an “interviewer” (you can ask a friend to ask you questions or you can pretend there is an imaginary interviewer asking those questions). Observe your body language in its natural state.

Here are a few things to watch out for:

Are your arms crossed (could indicate defensive, skeptical, closed)?

Do your eyes look up to your right when you answer the question on your current salary (could indicate being creative and not factual in thinking of the salary)? Looking up to your left suggest that you are recalling a number (hence truth).

Do you shoulder twitch when you answer a question (could indicate you are nervous, perhaps lying)?

Do you lean forward and look at your interviewer in the eye when you answer a question (demonstrates you are interested, confident) and or do you look away (lacking confidence)?

Do you rub your nose repeatedly when you answer a question? Hands touching face, throat, ear could also indicate you are not telling the truth.

Facial micro expressions. The eye brows and eyes can give clues on whether someone is genuinely happy, sad, surprised, shocked. The lips and mouth can give clues on whether someone is feeling anger, contempt.

Voice – the high pitched, hurried voice and a stutter here and there suggest nervousness, a sense of panic. Clear, well paced verbal communication gives a sense of assurance and confidence in your answers.

The more you are aware of your own body language, then you can tweak it to be more relaxed and confident and thus making a positive impact in your first impressions!

Have fun with it!


Photo courtesy of Lie To Me


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