When’s the last time you thought about feet and body language?
Welcome to the latest installment in the quarterly guest blog series “What you need to know to master business body language.” Barbara Chatzkel, The Body Language Pro, gives you guidance on what you need to know about your business body language. We know that clothes and our appearance are part of forming first impressions. But when was the last time you thought about what you are saying with your body language?
In this post, she shares the importance of feet and body language. All I can say is – mind blown. I get a lot of concerns from clients about being uncomfortable showing their legs – I try to explain no one is judging your legs and it’s true they aren’t. But they are getting a lot of visual cues from them. Read below to learn more!
The importance of feet and body language
Feet and legs are the second most important body broadcast center. Your feet don’t lie, but rather express your true feelings, so they provide powerful indicators of what is really going on. We use our face to deceive and conceal, but we gloss over our feet that are broadcasting loud and clear.
Daily, feet and legs are ignored when observing others’ body language or thinking about the body language you’re displaying.
Even though feet and legs and considered as a single body language broadcast center, they each have separate messaging. The feet are the stars of the show. Where the feet go, the legs follow.
“Observing the feet/legs body language of others will provide significant information about who the leaders are in a group, who you should seek out in a networking setting, or who is bored in a conversation.”
Leaders and group dynamics
In a standing group of people, all feet point toward the leader. Either in a group conversation, or in a one-to-one exchange, if your feet are not pointing straight at the person you are speaking with, you are not engaged in the conversation. If you observe that the person you’re speaking with has their feet pointing away from you, they have left the conversation.
If you’re coming into a room and want to know what the dynamics are, watch the feet. Watching how the position of people’s feet change as the conversation moves and as people enter and exit the conversation. If Person A is talking to Person B but Person A’s feet are not pointing straight at Person B but rather at Person C, the interaction is ineffective in BOTH situations – neither B nor C are getting all the information in the message and A is not getting the full support or interest of B or C.
Take a moment and look at the direction your feet are facing. We turn to what we like and turn away from what is disagreeable. If you are standing in a conversation, make sure your feet are pointing towards the person speaking, it indicates that you are paying attention.
As the second most important body language broadcast center, if the feet are sending a messaging and the hands are sending a conflicting message, BELIEVE the feet. Only the face supersedes the feet and legs.
Here are some ways your feet and legs are billboards that broadcast your true feelings:
- Foot jiggling is a telltale sign of nervousness or discomfort. If you have a tendency to jiggle your foot, sit with both feet on the floor.
- The ankle lock, legs crossed at the ankles, is a form of “biting one’s lip” and signifies holding back a negative emotion, uncertainty or fear. This is most evident as we go and sit in a dentists’ chair. ALL of us immediately lock our angles when we sit down at the dentist. It is the equivalent of Munch’s “The Scream.” The body wants to express fear and the desire to flee, but we know we are in that chair to stay, so we muffle the fear by locking our ankles.
Your Turn – master feet and body language
Over the next several weeks, take a look at what your feet and legs are doing while you are: at a dinner table with friends, seated in a meeting, standing with two or more individuals and talking, and sitting and taking with someone in a one-on-one situation. Think about the message your feet and legs are sending. Is it the message you want people to receive?
Enjoy the change of seasons and remember to periodically check to see that your body language actually mirrors the message you want to send.