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Body language is the process of communicating nonverbally through body movements and gestures.  Positive body language can be defined as these nonverbal movements and gestures that are communicating interest, enthusiasm, and positive reactions to what someone else is saying.  How you communicate with your body is important because research show that 60% to 90% of communication is nonverbal.  To many, body language is considered the most important aspect of communication as it sends signals to how we are truly feeling.  

CONFIDENCE and SELF ESTEEM: Develop Confident Body Language

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Learn how to feel and look more CONFIDENT & COMFORTABLE with proven body language tools. TOP-Rated body language course | By Jimmy Naraine • 360,000+ Students, Jimmy Naraine Support

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In general, body language is controlled by our subconscious mind and is not always in accordance with what we are saying.  Perceptive individuals will be able to pick up on the differences between what you are saying with your words and what your body is saying with its movements and deduce how you really feel.  To make sure you are conveying your thoughts and opinions how you want, practice your body language so that your movements match your words.

Here are 10 tips to help you keep your body language positive:

Posture. Keep a relaxed posture whether you are sitting or standing.  Keep your back straight but not stiff and let those shoulders relax.  This will reinforce the idea that you feel comfortable with your surroundings.

Take up space.  You do not have to sprawl out but try sitting or standing with your legs apart a bit. This will signify to others that you are at ease with yourself.  

Lean.  Leaning in slightly when someone is speaking demonstrates that you are actively listening while leaning away signals that you are disinterested or hostile to the situation.

Arms. Crossing your arms is the visual clue that you are turned-off by what is going on around you.  Practice hanging your arms comfortably at your side or bringing your hands together in your lap to show others that you are open to what they are communicating.

Hands. Talking with your hands is an easy way to incorporate gestures into your conversation but be careful not to make it a dance party.  Emphasizing words with your hands can lead you to appear more credible and assured.

Handshake. The handshake is one of the most important nonverbal communication cues because it can set the mood for the entire conversation.  A firm handshake will give you instant credibility while a weak handshake will make you appear fragile.  Take care not to crush the other person’s hand though.  Giving someone a death grip will signal to them that you are a bully or overcompensating for something.

Eye contact. Keep your head up and look the person who you are having a conversation with in the eyes both when they are talking to you and when you are talking to them.  There is no need to stare them down and remember to blink and look away occasionally.  Good eye contact lets others know that you are interested in the conversation.

Affirmative movements. You can show empathy with simple actions of agreement like nodding your head or smiling.  These actions let people know that you are on their side and that you can identify with their plight.  You can even use laughter when appropriate.

Taking notes. Taking notes lets others know that you value what they are saying and that you are engaged in the conversation.  Taking notes is not appropriate though in every situation.

Slower. Take a deep breath, hold it for a second or two, and let it out.  Focus on slowing down your speech and body movements a bit.  This will make you appear more confident and contemplative.  It will also help calm you down if you are nervous.

On the flip side, we also have a list of 10 body language no-nos:

Checking the time. Looking at a timepiece signals that you do not want to be there and that you have more important things to be doing.  If you are on a schedule or in a time crunch, politely let the other person know that you have an engagement and excuse yourself.

Looking at the ground.  This tells people that you are shy or disinterested.

Touching your face.  Everyone has a little itch they need to scratch now and again but repeatedly touching your face while speaking with someone is an indication that you are lying.  

Picking at something.  Whether it is your clothes, your notebook, or your fingernails, just leave it alone.  Picking at something demonstrates boredom and disapproval.  At the very least, it communicates that you are rude.

On the edge. Sitting on the edge of your chair will communicate that you are literally on the edge both mentally and physically.  You can make others feel more comfortable around you by sitting back in your chair and looking relaxed.  When you lean into a conversation to appear engaged, you want to lean with your back and leave you bottom firmly planted toward the back of the chair.

Tapping.  Do not tap; it is simple. Tapping your fingers, feet, or even a pen indicates stress or impatience.

Objects.  Did you know that placing an object in front of your body shows resistance and shyness?  Place items that you need at your side to show people that you are not hiding behind them.

Too close.  You want to be close to someone when you are having a conversation with them but being in their personal bubble will make them feel uncomfortable and make you look like you do not know basic social cues.  Four feet is the appropriate amount of space to give someone who is not a close intimate friend.

Fake smile.  People know when you are faking a smile so do not even bother trying.  A true smile comes from more than just your mouth.  It can be seen in your entire face including your eyes.  If you need to smile, try thinking of a happy thought or memory.

Over blinking.  Blinking is normal but over blinking is usually a sign of anxiety and nervousness.  Practice your blinking habits while looking at yourself in the mirror.

Page Last Updated: June 2021

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