Body Language – What it Means:Face Expressions and Eye Contact

Last Updated
August 22, 2009

Facial Expression

A simple smile can make others feel more at ease where a frown can make people see that you are aggressive or unsure of something. We use facial expressions to get our points across in the right context. For example, your message would suffer if you were saying how angry you are with a huge smile.

Eye Contact

When someone talks to you, do they look directly at you or look away? Maintaining eye contact when talking (or listening) to someone gives an impression that you/they are confident and honest. Making little eye contact can say that the other person doesn’t like you, is nervous or shy, or perhaps believe that they are higher in status and think that eye contact isn’t necessary.

“Making little eye contact can say that the other person doesn’t like you”

Also, look out for it if you believe that someone isn’t being truthful, as most people can’t keep eye contact when they are bending the truth.

However, someone looking at you non-stop is stressful and in these situations you should throw your hands around a bit more or point to brochures and objects to distract them. Staring is basically seen as an aggressive act and can also be interpreted as being unbalanced.

If talking to people outdoors, avoid wearing sunglasses as this can be very uncomfortable for the o ther person and can give an image of trying to hide your identity (a shifty salesman, for example). In addition, try to blink as less as possible as this can make it difficult for the other person to understand you (due to being distracted). Blinking less also gives an image of confidence.

Summary

Body language comes in many forms, as you have seen above. Different people have their own ability to recognize body language and they will recognize it with different meanings to other people. So, when you use body language, one person may see it differently to the other.

When we don’t know someone, we use their body language to get first impressions of them. In most cases, the impressions we make are wrong, as a positive form of body language may mean something negative about them. For example, someone who moves around a lot may be seen as energetic and efficient. In some cases, this may be correct, but it can mean that they are uncomfortable in the situation and also nervous.

Use body language to make you appear more confident, powerful, trusting, etc depending on what the situation may require from you. If you give off negative signs, then it could be the difference of achieving your goal (e.g. a successful presentation, proposing an idea in a meeting, discussing a task with an employee, etc).

Also, try to recognize other people’s body language. By doing so, it could mean that they are/aren’t interested or that they feel threatened by your presence: in which case you can change your body language to make them feel more at ease.

If you ever get the opportunity to have a presentation by you video taped, you may see things you would never have believed!

Relevant Articles

Article Index

  1. Body Language in Business
  2. Body Language - What it Means:The Space Around You and Gestures
  3. Facial Expression
  4. Body Language Books for Further Reading
Related Articles
Popular Articles in Personal