Communication: Is your body language sending the wrong signals?

You might not be aware of the body language you unconsciously use, but rest assured that other people are. Poor body language can lead to bad impressions, distrust, and unnecessary confusion.

RirianProject has put together an excellent article on improving body language by avoiding common errors:

When it comes to body language, simply avoiding the most common mistakes and replacing them with more confident movements will make a big difference.

These are the actions you should avoid:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Putting something between you and the listeners
  • Fidgeting, rocking, or swaying
  • Keeping your hands in your pockets or clasped together
  • Standing or sitting perfectly still
  • Slouching, leaning back, or being hunched over
  • Using phony gestures
  • Jingling coins, tapping toes, and other annoying movements

Recognizing the signs bad body language is the first step towards improvement. What other techniques can be used to improve body language?

Do You Recognize These 8 Body Language Killers? [RirianProject]

16 Responses to Communication: Is your body language sending the wrong signals?

  1. Hello John,

    There is one thing very important about analyzing body language: each gesture must be replaced in his context.

    No conclusion can be made with only one isolated body movement. You have to track other clues to put a name on the body language of someone. An private detective job!


  2. John Wesley says:

    That’s a good point, Laurent. Reading body language is very subjective — it’s based more on feel and general impressions than any set criteria.

  3. Steve says:

    hi John,

    I guess it depends on the outcome you want. If you want to improve your rapport with someone then you may want to try and mirror body movements of the person you’re speaking with.

    If you want to feel good, you may just try to smile, stand with you’re chest pecked out and you’re head up.

    Stephen Martile
    Personal Development Made Simple

  4. John Wesley says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, Steven. I especially agree with second one, and find myself practicing it unintentionally. It’s amazing how the accent or body language of the person you converse with can affect your own mannerisms.

  5. Ryan says:


    First let me say that i just found your website today on digg. I really like it so far and I’m sorry to say that I am probably the perfect poster boy for alot of the problems you discuss.

    I definitly do alot of the things you listed above. My problem however is that I recognize when I am doing these things, but don’t know how to bring myself out of it. Infact it seems the more I think about it, the worse it gets. I was just wondering if you had any suggested “replacments”. Or some advice of how to get myself out of what seems like a loop from one bad body language to another. My friends say I over-analyze a lot of things and I agree. I don;t know how to fix the problem without thinking about it though, and I don’t know how to think about it without overanalyzing it. HELP ME!


  6. John Wesley says:


    I’m glad you found the site. The truth is, the reason I can write about these problems is because I deal with them myself. The fact you know that there is room for improvement is a great sign.

    Over-analyzing has been a problem of mine as well. I’d suggest that when you find yourself over-thinking, reel yourself in and take action instead. When you think about something it’s possible to keep thinking forever without making any progress. The key to learning and evolving and trial and error through action.

    As far as bad body language goes, I think the biggest factor is comfort. If you aren’t comfortable it always comes through in body language. Again, the best way to get comfortable is experience, so practice throwing yourself into tough situations. It isn’t easy, but the more you do it the better it feels.

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  8. Jacki says:

    For the most part, all of this is true. However, when communicating with people from other cultures, you have to be more careful. Eye contact can be considered rude in some Asian countries, anything but stiffness would be disrespectful when addressed by military officials while on duty, and various countries find the OK hand gesture not to mean OK, but either, “you’re an asshole,” or, “I’m going to kill you.”

    Unless one’s prone to travel, this shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s something to note.

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  10. Jeeshan says:

    Hello everybody,
    I have been heavily annoyed by my elder sibling just because of her annoying body movements and sounds, it’s ok and easy to tolerate when it happens once in a while but heck I deal with it everyday sitting in front of the annoyer(since we live under the same roof).
    It’s been more than 6yrs since i noticed such stuff from her and she always gets on my nerves without a word ,what do i do? I simply keep silent trying to ignore her torture but oh there comes some sharp annoying noise or gesture.
    Now i suffer from depression (sadly i am only 20 yrs old and i suffer from psychological erectyle dysfunction) I have even tried to explain this to my psychologist but in vain , since you people are aware of this topic i would like to know how to deal with it.


  11. prom gowns says:

    Im glad to see that people are actually writing about this issue in such a smart way, showing us all different sides to it. Youre a great blogger.

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  13. kyle done says:

    i beleive body language is a good sign. but dont beleive its cold hard fact. people say body langauge dont lie. but being a sufferer of aspergers (high functioning autism) my body language is quite oppoistive how i feel. all my sociol being is concious..i got to try to have good body language and say the right thing..what i would like to see is employers put less empahsis on body langauge

  14. Unfortunately, Not fidgeting is impossible for someone with Tourettes, but you work with what you have.

  15. Marylembi says:

    Since when:  Is it a sin, to tap your foot to music, for sway your body, in a melody of
    music.  We are all human beings, and if people don’t who we really are! Then we sure
    don’t need them as friends!!!

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