Woman in restaurant displaying body language that shows she is unhappy with the service

The art of speaking the unspoken language, The Art of Body Language.

The unspoken language of reading the other person’s non-verbals projected to you during an interaction. The unspoken element of communication. There are too many signals to mention and we will only discuss a few of the more obvious indicators of non-verbal language. 

What is a person really telling you or to the contrary, what is not being said? This could be equally important to guide and lead you during a confrontation or during negotiating a difficult transaction. As a general rule real smiles are symmetrical and produce creases around the eyes and mouth, whereas fake smiles, for whatever reason, tend to be mouth-only gestures.

I will highlight a few of the unspoken language secrets below. There are too many to mention and only two or three examples will be presented. Please get a book on the subject to learn this skill in detail. 

To understand the signals of body language you have to be aware of the signals and on the lookout, just knowing the theory will not assist you well, you have to practice the art of Body Language! The mouth is associated with body language signals, which is not surprising given its functions – obviously speech. The mouth can be touched or obscured by a person’s own hands or fingers, and is a tremendously flexible and expressive part of the body too, performing a central role in facial expressions. Smiling is a big part of facial language. 

Negative Gestures

  • Eye-hand gestures, not interested in what you are saying or do not believe you.
  • Hand-face gestures.
  • Avoid touching your face, it connotes dishonesty.
  • Crossed arms, closed out or feeling threatened.
  • Crossed legs, feeling uncomfortable.
  • Taking hair and putting it behind ears, open to hearing more, interested.
  • Stepping back, unsure, defensive.
  • Open hands, openness, non-threatening.
  • Hands making fists. Aggression.
  • Hand nose gestures, either not liking what is said, or not sure of what the person is saying.
  • Eyes rolling up to the left, recollecting from memory, truth.
  • Eyes rolling up to the right, creative memory, possibly not true.
  • Not making eye contact, not 100% comfortable with the person you are speaking to.
  • Defensiveness, turning the body away.
  • Folded arms, defensive, feeling threatened.
  • Nervousness, with hands in pockets.
  • Stressed, and slouched.
  • Eyes downcasted, submissive.

Positive Gestures

  • Upright body posture.
  • Open posture with open hands and arms next to your sides.
  • Comfortably firm handshake.
  • Good eye contact.
  • Not fidgeting.
  • Looking interested.

Spot guest’s complaints before they take place

  • Finger tapping, neck, nose, and face rubbing.
  • The guests are over inspecting their food and or guests standing up.
  • Guest playing with food.
  • Guest excessively looking around.
  • People speaking to other tables.
  • People sitting with arms folded and abruptly without eating asking for the bill.

Arms act as defensive barriers when across the body, and conversely indicate feelings of openness and security when in open positions, particularly when combined with open palms. 

For example:

Crossed arms = possibly defensive

Crossed arms + crossed legs = probably defensive

Crossed arms + crossed legs + frowning + clenched fists = definitely defensive and probably hostile as well

Body language involving hands is extensive. This is because hands are such expressive parts of the body and because hands interact with other parts of the body. The firmness of a handshake is not the indicator of character that many believe it to be. Firm handshakes tend to be those of confident people, especially those who have spent some time in business and who realize that most people in business consider a firm handshake to be a good thing. Handshakes that are uncomfortably firm show a lack of respect or awareness, especially if used in cultures where firm handshaking is not normal.

Marius Joubert
Author: Marius Joubert

Founder of Restauranthub.co the first true community for the restaurant and hospitality industry.

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