Secrets of Body Language

Secrets of Body Language

It has been said that the words we use only express 7 per cent of our emotions. 38 per cent of what we feel is expressed through our tone of voice and inflexion. The remaining 55 per cent is expressed through facial expression and physical gesture and movement.

If 7 per cent of communication is words then understanding the remaining 93 per cent will be an extremely valuable tool to managers and Sales Executives alike


How can this be done?


Reading body language is not an exact science but the first step is to be aware that this information is already being received. The key is to filter it out and improve your perception of non-verbal language.

Extra Sensory Perception


When you walk into a room you will immediately know if you like it or not and whether you will feel comfortable. You have not analysed its contents, yet you will reach that conclusion immediately. You will rely on a general impression or some specifics.


Where do these conclusions come from?

They occur because it only takes your senses a fraction of a second to register all the details of the room. Your brain then adds them all up and compares the results to your tastes and preferences. Our customers go through exactly the same process when, for example, they visit your showroom, especially for the first time


Observing yourself

The same process occurs when you meet people. Observe yourself and you will soon become aware that you are constantly making judgements about everyone you encounter. We form our ideas based on the clues we have at our disposal. It’s quite normal to discern what kind of person you are dealing with before a relationship has had time to develop.

The opinions that we form in the first few minutes after meeting someone tend to stick and influence the way perceive that person. But the process works both ways. You are also being categorised and initial impressions can prove to be subsequently false once the relationship has developed. There are serious dangers, however, in making hasty judgements



We all tend to base our ideas on stereotypes. For example, the ideal secretary dresses in a certain way; the dynamic executive wears his three-piece suit. But three points are relevant:

People will have an image – a stereotype – and compare people they meet in specific situations to that image

Impressions are formed very rapidly and are followed just as rapidly by a decision

Unfavourable impressions have more impact than favourable ones


Picture the Sales Executive who dresses extremely shabbily, who is unshaven, whose hair is unkempt and who has severe body odour. He would have to work extra hard to counterbalance the negative impact in order to create a favourable impression even though he might be a very good sales person.

The conclusion is that you are not judged only on the content of what you say, but also how you say it, how you look and how you behave. The secondary messages come across just as strongly so their importance should not be under-estimated.


Six important factors of non-verbal language


  1. Posture – whether relaxed or showing signs of tension
  2. Eye contact/gaze – can be attentive or staring
  3. Appearance – whether appropriate or not
  4. Facial expression – if relaxed or rigid/disapproving
  5. Style – involves ease of movement, expression, voice intonation and rhythm
  6. Groupings – not all signs are signs. Combine them to reach accurate decisions. Someone rubbing their nose does not necessarily mean they are lying. They could have an itchy nose!

Even though the signs are instinctive and stereotyping can apply, the following points will help you avoiding errors:

The quality of your observations will depend upon two factors:

Reading Gestures

These six postures and eye contact are the best known but one thing is certain, whether you are a manager about to commence an interview or a Sales Executive about to meet a new prospect a positive initial impression is essential.


Body language examples, this is not a finite list but will be helpful in determining feelings and attitudes.


Positive Scowling or puzzled facial expression

Lots of eye contact

Frequently looks away when you speak

Smiles frequently

Shifts their weight from foot to foot when

If standing moves closer

Rubs chin or nose

Relaxed postures with no sign of tension

Points/wags finger at you

Listens attentively

Sits with arms firmly crossed

Keeps their distance away from you

Covers their mouth when speaking

Is tactile, touches on the arm or puts hand on shoulder

Sudden physical movements

Nods head in agreement

Shifts uneasily a lot in a chair

Open warm handshake standing


There are three high points on the tension line. The first could represent the first moment of contact when the prospect is nervous or wary. The second could represent the point when the prospect is about to commence a demonstration and the third highpoint the negotiating/closing stage.

As the tension line lowers this means the prospect relaxes. The first point could be where, after the initial meeting, the Sales Executive has qualified the prospect well. The second stage could be when the demonstration is completed and the prospect is satisfied with the car. The third point represents the time when the deal has been closed and finally concluded.