We asked body language experts to translate some common gestures into business vernacular.
- Crossed arms: A closed-off posture implies resistance. "People might just be cold, but the stereotype is that they aren't listening," explains Ronald Riggio, director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College.
- A brief touch to the hand: This captures your attention and forms a quick connection. But toward employees, make sure the action doesn't appear condescending.
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To learn what facial expressions tell you -- and what they don't -- visit entrepreneur.com/shortcuts.
- A barrier: Personal space is sacred in Western business culture, so back off if clients put up a barrier, like a purse, says Carol Kinsey Goman, president of Kinsey Consulting Services. "I've seen managers and salespeople who didn't pick up on that cue and lost the deal."
- A hand placed under the chin: When you see this, a decision is being made. Don't oversell if someone looks interested afterward, but if you spot negative signals, bring up your second-best idea--stat.
- Feet pointed toward the door: The feet are the most honest part of the body, so no matter how mesmerized people seem to be, this proves they're actually over it.
- A back-of-the-neck scratch: Your client might have an itch, but it could mean he still has questions and concerns.