Understanding Body Language

Even with the most well-crafted verbal message, it may not be understood properly or believed if the body language is not congruent with the message.  

For instance, if I were to give a presentation to 1,000 people and entered the room saying, "Hi everyone, I am Jennifer, I'm delighted to be here today!" but said it with a slouching posture, looking down to the ground, not smiling and slurring my words, you may think something was amiss.  

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Or, for those of you who work on virtual teams, let's take another scenario. You are on a group conference call, or participating in a virtual presentation, one you don't have much stake in as your name is not on the agenda. Possibly at the start of the meeting, you would be sitting up straight, paying attention and listening. About 15 minutes into the meeting, now, you are trying to listen, feeling bored, looking down at the table and bending over onto the table (leaning on the table). Now, the US manager asks you something! Your first response is hesitation because you did not hear him or her. Then, when you talk, if you have a speaker phone on a desk, you may just continue bending down and talking into the microphone, thinking, "It's closer to my mouth, so they will hear me better." In fact, this bent-over posture along with your hesitation and lack of enthusiasm will be heard in a muffled voice (the air stream is cut off when bending over), possibly also an echoed voice (mouth too close to the microphone) and a dullness as you probably wouldn't be smiling! You can hear these subtleties in your native language, your clients will be able to pick it up in you, as well. 

Or, let's take another example - you are out to lunch with your friends or colleagues. There are six of you. At one point four of you are standing in a circle looking at each other, talking, and the two others are stuck behind you trying to make eye contact and not being heard. How can this situation be remedied? 

The below video tutorial looks at some other elements of body language including:


Jennifer Kumar provides business and cultural training training for effective team building. Body language modules are built into US Cultural Training Programs, Effective Meeting Seminars, as well as Presentation Skills and other related modules. Click the above links for details on the programs. 

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