Concise Accountancy

Accountants and Registered Auditors

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Non-verbal communications in business

Understanding non-verbal communications in business settings allow you to gather feedback on what being said instantly, whether the message is of interest or boring, clearly understood or confusing, disapproved or accepted.

All you have to do is to be aware of people’s non-verbal behaviours. Non-verbal behaviours are autopilot. In other words, they are controlled by your subconscious mind. The non-verbal behaviours tell you the feelings and attitudes of others in response to what being said or discussed.


When someone is mirroring your non-verbal behaviour. He/she shows a willingness to understand you and genuinely connect with you. This is like the “we are on the same page on this subject” kind of non-verbal communications.

If you observe politicians on TV, you will see them mirroring each other when they stand and also when they are sitting down. This is because politicians have a genuine desire to connect with people meet.

Top tip, if you want to catch a stranger’s attention, you can do it by mirroring the person. Say in a restaurant, you want to attract a stranger’s attention, you mimic her postures, gestures including the words she said. If she picks up her glass to sip her wine, you pick up your glass to sip your drink. If she touches her nose, you also touch your nose. Sooner or later, she will notice you and start talking to you. Remember this phrase – like with like.


Be honest with yourself so that your non-verbal body language will be congruent. If you don’t agree with something say so. People tend to trust you when your non-verbal body language and words are congruent because you come across honest.

If you see someone said one thing but do another. Naturally, you will doubt the person’s intention and the person’s reliability become questionable. Your non-verbal body language can’t lie unless you are well-trained in acting it out.


A firm handshake is the best bet but you do not want to overdo it from a firm handshake to become a bone crusher handshake. Some people may perceive bone crusher handshake as aggressive. You don’t want that. You want to be perceived as firm but trustworthy and friendly.

On the other hand, a fingertip handshake is interpreted as lack of confidence and insipid.

Eye contact

Maintain eye contact when you speak to someone or someone is speaking with you. Don’t look away when people are talking to you. Steady eye contact is often taken as a sign that a person is telling the truth and is trustworthy. On the other hand, shifty eyes and an inability to maintain eye contact is frequently seen as an indicator that someone is being deceptive.


Gestures are another form of non-verbal communications. You can see on anyone’s face if he/she is happy or angry or sad or envy or fear or love. These are universal human emotions.

You smile when you are happy. People scowl when they are angry and have a long face when they are sad. With this, you can gauge if you should continue with your conversation or better change the topic. For example, if you are about to ask your friend for a favour to help you with your confirmation statement and company accounts filings and it is urgent, your friend told you his wife just had a baby and you can see from his face, look like he has slept for days. In this situation, you may want to reconsider, be kind to your friend, maybe ask some other friend to help.

In business social gatherings, if someone is talking to you with his/her body facing you directly, this means he/she wants to give you full attention. Later, if you notice the person shifted their body slightly to open up a gap between you and him/her in a triangle shape like this means the person is ready for another person to join in the conversations or that the person is ready to leave.


Generally, people have a conceptual egg shaped zone of personal space around their bodies and only trusted person can invaded if others trespass into it.

In business gatherings, if you do not want a person to invade your personal space, for example, standing up close to you, you can stand behind a chair or counter or you use your handbag (if you have one) to make the gap to protect your personal space. Likewise, you can observe yourself so that you are not invading others’ personal space unintentionally. When a person is comfortable and trusts you, he will let you into his personal space.

Understanding non-verbal communications can help you to communicate effectively with people and network with ease. You can gather instant feedback based on their non-verbal body language and act accordingly.

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