Body language is comprised of the actions, movements and gestures people make as part of the communication process.
Communication is made up of two parts, the words you speak and hear, and the body movements and gestures you make and other people see. I heard this statement many years ago: “Your actions speak so loudly in my mind that I can’t hear what you say!” Total communication includes both the vocal and physical gestures of the communicator. If we only hear what the other person says, we may be missing out on what he truly said. If I could choose only one medium of communication, I would choose body language, for it does not lie.
The physical actions of body language are referred to as gestures. Understanding physical gestures for most people is similar to learning a second language. Gestures can have different meanings depending on how they are used, just as words in a language can have different meanings, depending on how they are used. The interpretation of gestures must be done in the context of clusters, several congruent gestures in harmony with each other. The understanding of gestures is very difficult when the various elements are separate from their context. However, when gestures are fitted together into their composite positions, a complete picture is revealed. Each gesture is like a word in a language. In order to be understood, one must structure his words into units, or sentences, that express complete thoughts. Gestures must be interpreted in terms of sentences, or clusters of congruent body movements or actions.
By mentally matching congruent gestures that form clusters, you can identify the attitudes expressed and understand the meaning. You must look for similar attitudinal gestures that not only endorse one another, but also serve to make a cluster. As an example, a congruent set of gestures for a salesperson who is very anxious and enthusiastic about his product might: be sitting on the edge of his chair, feet apart, possibly on his or her toes in a sprinter’s position, hands on the table, body leaning forward. Facial congruency might amplify the posture: eyes alert, a slight smile, and probably no furrow on the brow.
Understanding congruency of gestures serves as a monitoring device for discovering a person’s attitude and then giving his actions meaning. A particular gesture can have many meanings, and you must look for congruency to understand what the actions of the body really mean. Covering one’s mouth while speaking could have many meanings: lying, unsure of self, doubting, distortion, or bad breath. Arms folded high on the chest might mean: adamant, stubborn, not going to listen, or just a relaxed and comfortable position. To truly understand the language of body movements you must watch for congruency combined with gesture clusters and then seek to understand and interpret them.
Here are seven profitable body language ideas for the professional sales person:
Walk slow, deliberate, and tall upon entering the room.
When greeting a prospect, give (and, hopefully receive) a friendly "eyebrow flash": that brief, slight raising of the brows calls attention to the face, encourages eye contact, and (when accompanied by a natural smile) sends the strong positive signal that the prospect has gotten off to a good start.
Use mirroring techniques. In other words, make an effort to subtly reproduce the positive signals your interviewer sends. For example, the prospect leans forward to make a point; a few moments later, you lean forward slightly in order to hear well. Another example might be, the prospect leans back and laughs; you "laugh beneath" the prospect’s laughter, taking care not to overwhelm him/her by using an inappropriate volume level.
Maintain a naturally alert head position; keep your head up and your eyes front at all times.
Remember to avert your gaze from time to time to avoid the impression that you are staring; when you do so, look confidently and calmly to the right or left; never look down.
Pace your movements, do not hurry.
Consciously relax with every breath.