15 Body Language Secrets Every Eventprof Should Pick Up On
Event planning is a people facing role and empathy and reading unspoken cues from attendees, clients, and your event team, can set you apart. Here are some tips to read body language to your advantage to determine what the other person is really saying, thinking or feeling.
Organizing events is a people centric career which requires great understanding to be able to deliver the real objectives and make everyone involved feel comfortable. People don’t always say what they mean though, sometimes you need to read between the lines a little. Body language is a form of nonverbal communication and is usually the subconscious’ way of being able to tell what the other person does and doesn’t want, it is these subtle cues that eventprofs need to recognise to really rise above the rest and give the client exactly what they want or need!
When it comes to feelings and attitudes, Albert Mehrabian’s famous research shows 93% of our communication is nonverbal, which can be broken down to 38% of the tone of voice and 55% of this is down to body language. While this rule doesn’t work for everything, it certainly emphasizes the need to understand the subconscious cues from the other party to better understand their meaning.
Sometimes the mouth can lie but the body can’t, and while you may not be a detective you should definitely be able to determine if the other person is interested or deceiving you. You can tell a lot from a person just by the way they stand, sit or fiddle with their fingers. Here are some expert tips to help you crack even the most hard to read person by analyzing their own body language.
Arms Or Legs Crossed
Folding or crossing the arms and the legs is the most commonly understood body language that implies the other person is not open to communication. It can also signal that they are defensive and may not take news well or be open to new ideas meaning it may not be the right time to talk or negotiate with them.
While a nod can signal that someone has understood or agrees with you, excessive nodding is a sign of anxiety, especially if it isn’t warranted in a conversation. Nodding a lot may also indicate that they don’t actually understand what you are saying and therefore are making this gesture subconsciously as they are trying to work things out.
Making a steeple with your hands by touching the fingers together but not the palms, is a signal that the other person has conviction about what they are saying and that they are sincere. It is a common sign in boardrooms of high up or powerful people who believe in what they are doing or being told and it makes them more likely to agree with you.
On the other hand, rubbing the hands or fingers together in this pose rather than staying still can indicate nervousness.
Excessively looking around or refusing to make decent eye contact is one of the first signs of lying, particularly in children because it denotes guilt. With adults this tendency is a lot lower key but the premise is the same, if someone keeps shifting their gaze or glance, they are probably hiding something.
While raising eyebrows can normally indicate surprise or excitement, when in a normal or serious conversation, raising the eyebrows shows that someone is subconsciously uncomfortable. As many things can surprise others it is difficult to exactly pinpoint discomfort but take note to see if it keeps happening.
A universally annoying trait is of those who fidget and this can mean a variety of things but ultimately it shows the other person is not fully listening or invested with what you’re saying. Someone fidgeting when they are talking to you can be a sign of discomfort or lying. Fidgeting when listening usually equals boredom.
If you work with those who have a shorter attention span or a tendency to fidget, always ensure you ask the most important questions first and get them out the way as they will be better received.
In the playground at school this may have been bad, but when it comes to body language, it’s a pretty good thing. When two people are on the same level or are equally invested in a conversation they tend to mirror the other and start getting in sync. If you find the other person naturally mimicking your gestures or pose it could mean that they are ready to do business or are on the same page and understand what you are saying.
On the other hand, if things feel slow, awkward or “jerky” it could be that they isn’t as interested as they are letting on and may not get on with you as well as you think.
You may have heard this term and it is a favorite for models and photographers because ultimately, while the mouth can make a smile, the eyes sell it. If someone is smiling but their eyes are not, they are lying and don’t believe you. When in a conversation, the eyes betray a lot of how a person is feeling so you should pay attention to what they are telling you and then piece it together with what they are doing.
The way someone sits or stands gives great insight into how they are feeling or thinking in general. During a sitting meeting, taking note of a person’s posture can give plenty of clues, for example:
Confident – Shoulders back with head held high, especially when sitting shows that they are confident in their own abilities and makes you more likely to listen to them.
Unsure – Slumping in the chair and trying to sit lower can be a sign that someone is overworked or not confident in themselves.
If someone is standing with their feet unnaturally close together it can imply that they are hesitant or don’t believe what they are saying. This can often be the case with figureheads who have the title but no actual power to do the things they say they can.
In addition to this, some may cross one of their feet behind the other and this is not always for balance as initially thought. Instead this could be an indicator that the person wants to leave the situation but feels trapped, especially if they are trying to hide something.
You may think that bigger gestures mean that the person is bubbly and outgoing, however this is only partly true. Making larger gestures can signal a lack of confidence or belief in what they are saying as the hand movements try to detract from what is actually being said. It can also come across as quite threatening for people who don’t like to share their personal space as they do this to open things up a little more. With gestures, the more subtle, the better.
Face Or Hand Touching
Someone who often touches their hands or face during a conversation is very nervous and most likely lying. The tendency to do something with their hands and be active to avoid shaking normally exposes itself as touching the face or fiddling with their hands. It can also act as a symbolic way of covering the face when lying, especially if they have been able to maintain eye contact.
If someone leans away from you it can mean many things, but in general it is a sign that they aren’t ready to hear what you have to say. It is often a way that people try to avoid subjects as leading back helps to identify other things in the room to focus on and distance themselves from you. When coupled with touching hands or face, leaning away is a further indicator that someone is lying to you.
As our hands are used most often in day to day life, showing the palms when making gestures or comments is a sign of allowing vulnerability which is normally a way to see if someone is being sincere. Open palms are also a sign that they are willing to work with others and are often a way of showing they are open to new ideas which means if you are getting open palmed gestures, go in for the negotiation.
On the other hand, deliberately making an effort to hide the palms, whether that is closing them in a fist or tucking them into crossed arms is a sign that the other person is hiding something.
Some poses or stances, are said to naturally increase testosterone levels which is linked to increasing power and dominance on those around them. You may notice women in a male orientated setting or a lower level employee often sit in power poses to subconsciously “puff” themselves up. You may find that many who have subconscious power poses actually feel like they have less power which can make them more naturally forceful to overcompensate.
Knowing these nonverbal cues can hopefully give you the tools to decode those in front of you and help during negotiations, meetings, networking, events or just everyday encounters. You can also use these as guidance to pick up on the way you come across to others to ensure you are using positive body language, especially if you are trying to get what you want. Ultimately, though it is important to remember that body language is part of a whole and each expression has its own meaning that can be changed in any given situation – so don’t start calling people liars based on their shifty eyes just yet!
Plan awesome events & boost your career
Join over 11,000 subscribers that use EventMB to stay on top of How to's, Trends & Event Technology.