Communicating as a Leader

What is Body Language?

Prof.M.S.Rao asked:

“The body never lies and the body never keeps quiet”, Ancient Chinese proverb.

Observe the three role playing activities stated below:

One: Peter says, “Paul, Take this DVD cassette. It is very interesting. Play it and enjoy yourself”. (Not looked at the DVD and also at the Paul while handing over).

Two: Peter says, “Paul, take this DVD cassette. It is very interesting. Play it and enjoy yourself”. (Looked at the DVD but not looked at the Paul while handing over).

Three: Peter says, “Paul, take this DVD cassette. It is very interesting. Play it and enjoy yourself”. (Looked at the DVD, maintained eye contact with Paul and smiled while handing over).

From the above three role playing activities it is obvious that the third activity is the best as the Peter smiled, looked at the DVD and maintained eye contact with the Paul. It is obvious from the above the huge signification and importance attached to the body language during communication. In this context, let us know in detail about the body language.


When we communicate only 7 per cent of the communication depends on verbal communication and the rest goes towards the non verbal communication. Of the 93 per cent- 38 percent is for voice modulation and 55 per cent is for body language. It indicates the tremendous impact it makes during communication. Body language constitutes the total facial animation and body animation. Human beings may say many lies but it is the body language that usually speaks truth. When we communicate the other person observes and registers our body language in his subconscious mind. Although externally, the listener observes and accepts every thing of verbal language but the listener’s subconscious mind is totally beset with our body language.


Non Verbal Behavior Interpretation

Standing with hands on hips Readiness, aggression

Sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly Boredom

Sitting, legs apart Open, relaxed

Brisk, erect talk Confidence

Arms crossed on chest Defensiveness

Walking with hands in pockets, shoulders

hunched Dejection

Hand to cheek Evaluation, thinking

Rubbing the eye Doubt, disbelief

Touching, slightly rubbing nose Rejection, doubt, lying

Locked ankles Apprehension

Hands clasped behind back Anger, frustration,


Head resting in hand, eyes downcast Boredom

Rubbing hands anticipation

Sitting with hands clasped behind head,

legs crossed Confidence, superiority

Open palm Sincerity, openness,


Tapping or drumming fingers Impatience

Pinching bridge of nose, eyes closed Negative evaluation

Steepling fingers Authoritative

Patting/fondling hair Lack of self-confidence,


Titled head Interest

Stroking chin Trying to make a


Pulling or tugging at ear Indecision

Biting nails Insecuritynervousness

Looking down, face turned away Disbelief


Below mentioned are the common tips for effective body language and the same varies from culture to culture.

• First and foremost thing is to be aware of your own body language and capitalize the same effectively and efficiently.

• “The eyes are the windows, the mirrors of the soul”, goes the Chinese proverb. The use of eyes in the process of communication is called Oculesics. Maintain eye contact to the listener. And do not stare at the listener as it creates inconvenience and discomfort for the individual. If you find it difficult to look into the eyes then look in between both the eyes, it appears as though you maintain eye contact.

• Keep your back straight but not stiff and don’t slouch your body. You may slightly tilt your head forward to demonstrate your interest.

• Don’t stand still in a place. Make a few comfortable movements with in your personal space.

• Proxemics –This refers to the way in which people maintain a physical distance from one another. Learn to maintain the right gap between intimate and public zone. Intimate zone is the zone for well known and close people. Where as the public zone is meant for unknown people. Never offend others by entering their personal zones during conversation or communication.

• While shaking hands be confident and positive and ensure that your palm should neither by upwards nor downwards but just be equal and vertical as it conveys assertive approach.

• Smile from the core of your heart. People are intelligent and can make out whether the smile is genuine or fake.

• Make use of your hand movements up to the hilt. Each verbal language must be consistently correlated to have effective delivery of speech.

• Observe the film stars and great speakers across the globe closely for correct body language. Try to implement the same as per your convenience, comfort and that suits your culture.

• Look into the mirror and speak, you can make out if there are any inaccuracies in your body language because you are the best judge for yourself.

• Deliver any speech in the presence of your friends and family members and ask them to bring to your notice for evaluation and correction.

• Visualization technique proves to be useful while delivering any speech. Visualize your role model vis-à-vis body language and adopt the same. Over a period of time you can develop positive body language.

• Videotape your conversation, communication or your speech and then check by muting the recording. By this, your body language can be observed fully and the areas that need to be improved can be corrected and adopted.

• Never view body language in isolation. It has to be seen keeping the cultural context view.


Body language is the most crucial part of any communication. Fine tuning body language helps ordinary persons to become an extra ordinary persons thereby excelling in all walks of life. Improving your body language can make a big difference in your people skills, emotional intelligence, attractiveness and general mood. The difference between the good leaders and great leaders is the right application of body language to convey, enthuse and inspire their followers.

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