Even if you are saying and doing the right things at your job, and in your personal life, you could be making a bad impression on everyone with what you don’t say. That is because of body language.  Much of our reactions to others are based on non-verbal cues. And if your body language is communicating a negative message, that is the message you could be sending, regardless of what actual words come out of your mouth. Now there’s a scary thought!

Body language can send negative messages

What are some of the negative messages sent via body language? Things like having arms folded across your chest can show hostility. Lack of eye contact can indicate shiftiness. A listless facial expression can signify boredom. And an unsmiling face could communication a variety of things, like anger, disappointment, or sadness, depending upon what other facial expressions are included.

If you want to know what body language communicates, watch a TV show or a movie without the sound off, and see how much you can figure out of the plot. While you may not be able to figure out everything, you can get a sense of what is going on. Which is what happens with body language and conversations.

Here’s the problem, though, with interpreting body language: as life coaching experts say, many of the clues that indicate negativity could also be the result of nervousness or other issues. For example, somebody who doesn’t make great eye contact could simply be nervous. The same goes with a not-so-warm handshake.  Or, the person folding their arms could simply be more comfortable with their arms that way, and doesn’t realize the message that the arms’ position sends.  Or they could be trying to camouflage their weight. The person who doesn’t smile could be self-conscious about her teeth. At any rate, the person who sends off bad body language may not even realize that they’re doing it.

Some people use body language to their advantage

Unfortunately, some people who do recognize what body language communicates are scam artists. They may have the firmest handshake, the shiniest smile, and make the greatest eye contact to convince others of their sincerity. This is because they know how much this non-verbal communication plays a part in communicating sincerity. Unfortunately, they are not actually sincere. Yet people fall for it, because their body language seems sincere.

But what if you are in the opposite situation – you are sincere, but your body language may be saying negative things? If you are not sure what your body language is communicating, ask a trusted friend for help.  You can also concentrate on standing up straight and sitting up straight, if posture is a problem.  Practicing in front of a mirror can help you unlearn bad habits. Remember to smile and nod if needed, and uncross your arms. And try to learn how to relax. Before you know it, you will be sending more positive messages with your body language.