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5 Reasons Your Body Language Might Be Limiting Your Progress

Body language is an important part of communication, constituting 50% (or more) of our communication. But what is it exactly?

To put it simply, it is an unconscious aspect of communication that, a lot of the time, you aren’t even aware of. Through your body language, you could be sending out signals in conversations without realizing it. And unfortunately, these signals aren’t always good – they might reveal your shyness, uncertainty, dislike, or any other feeling or emotion you were trying not to show.

So even in a life-defining moment like a job interview or a public performance, you aren’t fully in control – your body language tells tales of you. It might be saying, “I don’t believe I’m good enough,” or “I’m uncomfortable in this situation,” or even, “I’m holding something back.”

But how can this be? Why would your own body betray you?

The scientific research on body language is clear. A recent NCBI study shows that much of our unique body language was developed before we reached 18 months old. Some of it is also genetic. Another research by Princeton University has found that body gestures signal our emotions 4 times more powerfully than our facial expressions.

Most of the time, unfortunately, you can’t see your own body language, so you aren’t aware of it – which is why so many people go through life oblivious to how their body language holds them back.

The good news is, however, that it’s not that difficult to improve and eliminate these bad habits if you know where you’re going wrong. To help you with this, here are the five most likely ways your body language is holding you back and what you can do about them.

1. You Don’t Take Body Language Seriously

The most important thing to learn from this article is to start taking your body language more seriously. After all, if you’re not aware of what you’re doing right and wrong, you can’t improve – but with some awareness and knowledge, you can start making changes.

Consider the following:

  • Observe yourself, either in a mirror or in a video. How do you perceive yourself? How do you think others perceive you? What do you need to change? Now you can answer all these questions.
  • Ask trusted friends about your body language – they might be aware of certain negative mannerisms or tics, which they would generally be too polite to tell you about. Get them brutally honest – it’ll be worth it in the long run!
  • Tell the same friends how you want to be perceived. They can tell you how near or far you are from your goal.

If you want to become severe and more aware of your gestures and facial expression, it’s also worth going on a training course that covers the topic of body language and how to improve it.

2. It is Revealing Your Secret Weaknesses

Sometimes, your non-verbal signs can reveal emotions and weaknesses you would rather hide, even without realizing them. In other cases, your body language makes it seem like you’re feeling uncertain, nervous, or embarrassed – even when you aren’t.

Thankfully, this can be improved, and once you know where you’re going wrong, you can make some changes.

The most important behaviors to remember here are:

  • Fear: Often characterized by stiff posture, wide eyes, busy hands, rocking, and feet angled away from the person you’re talking to.
  • Nervousness: Avoid eye contact, fidgeting, biting your nails, awkward laughter.
  • Embarrassment: Blushing, hunching your body instead of standing tall.

These can damage how people perceive you at work and in life, so learn them, be mindful of them, and cut them out.

3. Your Body Language Isn’t Powerful

It is one thing to eliminate weak body language, but you must also replace it with a more positive one, or you could be left standing there like a mannequin!

Using powerful body language can affect how people perceive you – including your boss, customers, or the hiring manager at your next job interview. It’s clear why people with powerful body language have better career prospects.

If you want to improve your non-verbal communication, try the following tips:

  • Make eye contact – not only does it show confidence, but it also makes the other person feel important and respected
  • Smile – It shows you’re confident, positive, and relaxed, and it can also improve the mood of those around you.
  • Firm handshake – Everyone knows this one, but not everyone uses it. A firm handshake says you are strong and purposeful.
  • A powerful stance – An open posture, with feet slightly apart, conveys strength and readiness.

It might feel awkward initially, but as you practice and stay mindful of these body language habits, they’ll start to feel like you. And you’ll start to feel more confident and powerful as a result, too.

4. Your Body Language Says You Don’t Care

Not all negative body language is related to weak emotions and traits. If you feel too cool to be invested in a situation or don’t care, your body language can give this away, too – which can often make other people question your character and commitment.

Imagine yourself in a meeting with a low-value customer or a junior colleague. You might not put the same energy as when you meet your best customer or even your boss. But you need to be present and respectful in all your interactions.

Another good example is interviewing for a job in which you feel over-qualified and over-confident… but still want to be hired. Your body language could make you appear arrogant or disinterested if you aren’t careful.

Mannerisms to be aware of include:

  • Leaning back in your chair, which conveys indifference or relaxation
  • Yawning and slouching, which indicate boredom or tiredness
  • Showing signs of distraction, such as looking away at other objects in the room

5. Your Body Language Says You’re Dishonest

Finally, some body language habits give the impression that you’re dishonest, even when you aren’t, which can easily damage your working relationships.

There’s danger on both sides here. You might appear fake and dishonest if you try too hard to use the right body language. Your smile could appear phony or ingratiating, or how you carry yourself could seem a bit forced.

On the other hand, if you say positive things – such as agreeing to work late – but with a sour expression that shows you don’t want to do them, people might find you equally phony.

The takeaway? While you can change your mannerisms in various ways, your body language still needs to match what you say and do. After all, improving your body language is about becoming the best version of yourself – not pretending to be someone else.

Stay mindful of body language and focus on how you want people to think of you. With time and practice, projecting power and confidence will feel natural, and you won’t be held back by your body language anymore.