Your Body Language Can Speak Louder Than Words

Up to 80 percent of all communication is non-verbal. So it's important to send the right message with your body language and facial expressions. Here's a lesson in speaking volumes without saying a word, from former FBI agent Joe Navarro, who spent his career sizing up bad guys as a counter-terrorism special agent.

  • To send the non-verbal message that you're in charge, stand with your feet slightly apart and your arms slightly away from your body. If you're sitting at a table, spread your materials a little wider than your shoulders. Navarro says this shows that you've claimed your territory and you can't be dominated. Also, spread your fingers wide when you make hand gestures. It sends a message of strength and confidence.
  • To tell people that you're trustworthy, steeple your fingers. That just means put your fingertips together with your hands pointing upward. This is a powerful message. Studies have found that jurors are more likely to believe a witness who testifies with their fingers steepled. However, don't hook your thumbs in your pockets. According to Navarro it sends the message that you aren't confident in what you're saying. 
  • Navarro has non-verbal tips for job interviews too. He says you should focus on the interviewer's face. A wandering gaze sends a message of disrespect – so don't check out the wallpaper or the windows. Know where all your paperwork is before you get in the office. Being able to retrieve your resume or application easily, shows that you're organized which increases trust.
  • Finally, if you want to show someone that you want to be friendly, do this: as soon as you make eye contact, raise your eyebrows at them for just an instant. It's a non-verbal clue that says they're important to you. Also, match their handshake. Researchers have found that people have a more positive view of someone whose handshake is similar to their own. Don't speak to them head on. People are more likely to feel trusting towards someone when they stand a little off to one side.