8 Worst Body Language Mistakes/Tips For Non-Verbal Communication Skills

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Hey TD!

Both the guys and the girls groups had tremendous times at T&T Night.  Not only did we discuss issues, but we began learning little nuances that go a long way towards not only fulfilling the bottom-line big-picture practical duties of becoming future men and women of God, but also the manner in which we learn to fulfill those roles.

At church, often times, we focus on what to say to people; we don’t spend enough time on how we say it … including our body language. While we want to make sure we don’t use learned external mannerisms as ways to portray ourselves or to manipulate how people think of us, we don’t want to go to the other extreme and not pay any attention to what our mannerisms may communicate to others.

When I saw this list from learnex, I immediately knew this would be useful for us at TD, as many of us can be … hmmm, let’s be honest … underwhelming … in the vibe we give and the impression we leave. Some of it may indeed be that we really don’t care much about the vibe we give people. For those of you who fall into that category, that needs to change. However, for others, it’s not that you don’t care; rather, it’s that you don’t know what needs to be adjusted or how to do it.

So, for the sake of continuing conversation with those around you – both outside and inside the church – check out these body language mistakes and see where you could improve (I’ve edited, added to, and adjusted some parts for conciseness and clarity):

Eye contact

The first one is avoiding eye contact.  When you are not looking into the person’s eye, it shows that you’re either nervous or not confident about yourself … and you’re being a little disrespectful. So you definitely don’t want to show these emotions. You’re probably just nervous, but making eye contact is extremely important.

Slouching

When you slouch in front of people while talking with them, it shows you’re not confident, have poor self-esteem, and don’t have the energy for them. It conveys that you’re bored talking with them.

Hand-shake

Make sure that you give a firm but warm handshake to the people that you meet because it’s a sign of  … of confidence and engagement. When you give a poor or weak handshake, it shows that you are least interested in shaking hands or dealing with that person. A very aggressive, very firm handshake is also not acceptable.

Arms folded

Folded arms can possibly show that you’re nervous, not confident, or uninterested. If you lean back with your arms folded, it could give off the impression that you are skeptical or wanting to keep your distance.

Frowning & Scowling

Frowning and scowling while conversing with someone may give the vibe that you have already jumped to a conclusion and made a negative judgment before knowing the context and considering all the facts. This could make someone more reticent to share openly and freely.

Invading Privacy & Space

There are people who love to invade others’ space. For example, you’re at your workplace and your co-worker comes in and just sticks around you way too much and you don’t want that. You want him or her to maintain distance. There are people who treat your possessions or your space as if it’s their own. They may be crossing personal boundaries. It’s important to maintain your boundaries when you are talking to a person or hanging around them. You want to maintain the appropriate space and distance commensurate with your relationship – not too close and not too far.

Fidgeting

Fidgeting with an item in your hand, with your hair, or constantly moving are signs of nervousness and being uncomfortable in the conversation, which can lead the one you’re speaking with to become uncomfortable conversing with you as well.

Glancing at the clock/checking your phone

Glancing at the clock or checking your phone during a conversation gives the impression that you can’t wait for this conversation to be over or that the person you’re speaking with isn’t very important to you. You may have legitimate reasons to look at your watch or the clock, or you to check your phone – maybe you have another appointment afterwards and you don’t want to be late, or you are expecting an important text; just make sure you communicate that with the person you’re with, so you don’t leave them wondering and feeling unimportant.


1 Cor. 10:31 implores us, “Whether then you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This includes working on glorifying God in the way that you converse with others; loving others enough to work on communicating with them considerately and with care. It’s something for all of us to consider, including me. Let’s keep working on it! – Arthur

Eating Together

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I can still remember vividly that cold September Sunday. My wife and I had just arrived in London, where I was to do some further theological training. We found our way to a local church for corporate worship. Immediately after the service, a kind, elderly couple turned around and introduced themselves. Betrayed by our outrageous American accents, we were obviously from “out of town.” Almost without hesitation, this couple, whom we had met only moments before, invited us to have Sunday lunch at their home. What a glorious afternoon we had in a traditional English home. The meal was delicious, but it was the fellowship we shared as brothers and sisters in Christ that was truly satisfying.

One of the blessings we enjoy as Christians is that wherever we find ourselves in the world, we have a community to which we belong, where genuine relationships with other Christians can be enjoyed. If we neglect table fellowship, we will miss one of the wonderful ways God builds authentic community in the church, and we will sacrifice an opportunity to witness to the reality of the kingdom to the world.

As creatures made in God’s image, we were created for relationships, both with God and with other image bearers. By God’s design, therefore, genuine relationships are the basis for all human flourishing. We learn in the Bible that sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways relationships are established, deepened, and enjoyed both with God and with others. Think of the covenant meal the elders of Israel enjoyed with God on Mount Sinai. Moses records the spellbinding experience in Exodus 24:9–11:

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. . . . And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

The Old Testament prophets often compared life in the new heavens and earth with the picture of a divine banqueting table (Isa. 25:6; 55:1–2). In the New Testament, we regularly find Jesus reclining “at table” during His earthly ministry, engaging with real people, furthering His kingdom work, fostering true community, demonstrating reconciliation with God, and building genuine fellowship among His disciples (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 11:37; 14:15). Of course, Jesus calls us to gather around His table where we enjoy fellowship with Him and with our brothers and sisters by virtue of the Holy Spirit who indwells us (Luke 22:19–20; 1 Cor. 10:15–17). The early church gathered regularly in homes to “break bread together” as a practical expression of their fellowship in Christ (Acts 2:46). The Apostles exhort us to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). Finally, our eternal, joyous, soul-satisfying communion with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ is depicted as the great marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 9:6–10). Eating together is important.

Our communion with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ is depicted as the great marriage supper of the Lamb.

Christians have always enjoyed sharing a meal because of the rich biblical symbolism; because it is a tangible expression of service, love, and unity; and because of the opportunity it affords for true fellowship and genuine community. Practically, sharing a meal nourishes our need to know and be known because it facilitates face-to-face conversation.

In our digitally connected world, we share a tremendous amount of information through texts, e-mails, and tweets; however, because a significant amount of communication is nonverbal, precious little communication actually occurs digitally. Seeing someone’s facial expression, hearing the tone of his voice, and looking into his eyes are all vital elements of real communication. Ideally, sharing a meal would put us face-to-face with real people. But I am sure you have witnessed this scene: people out together at a restaurant, sitting at the same table, interacting not with each other but with their phones. It reminds me of the film WALL-E, in which the remnant of the human race is hurtling through space on a rocket ship. On the ship, everyone has his own digital recliner that hovers above the floor. Each recliner has its own screen that delivers hypnotic doses of information. The result is that people never talk to one another or interact with their environment. Because they never have to walk, their muscles have atrophied, and because they never have to think, they are easily manipulated. The point is clear: technology can become dehumanizing. It is therefore vital that we emphasize the importance of living in personal relationships within the church.

Tragically, in our modern, Western culture, authentic communication and real relationships are in decline. Sadly, nuclear families rarely eat together today; how much less do we invite others to our homes? In a world where we are growing more divided and isolated, one of the tangible, compelling, and attractive distinctives of the church will be our authentic relationships and loving community. Christians will be people who actually talk to one another face-to-face (2 John 12). Sharing a meal will be an “otherworldly” experience to our otherwise fractured, depersonalized, and hyperindividualized world, and therefore a tremendous witness to the reality of Christ’s kingdom. We have to invite our friends and neighbors to come out into the light of unfiltered relationship both with God and with others. Without such relationships, human flourishing is impossible.

I encourage you to extend an invitation today and begin to develop the kind of rich relationships we were designed to enjoy at our tables. Want to come over for dinner?