People make decisions on whether to like, work or be with you every day on how you present yourself to them. Your body language or non-verbal mannerisms send instant signals to anyone in your presence. Granted, what your body is saying may not be what you are thinking. So goes the story I heard from a chatty stranger in the grocery checkout today.
She asked me if I thought the bus driver would like a package of chocolates as a gift. I commented that was generous of her and she shared that the bus driver stepped off the bus to express his concern over her daughter. He had asked her daughter several times what was the matter? Her daughter kept telling him nothing, but he did not give up and continued to ask.
The mother asked her daughter afterward about the incident and she said, nothing is the matter except that everyone kept asking her what she was upset about. The questioning started at school and continued all day ending with the bus driver.
That’s when the mother told her that she was like her. Both of them don’t smile and have a look on their face like they are worried when in fact everything is OK. She told her daughter to start practice smiling more. I commended the mother for teaching her daughter a lesson so early in life.
It’s classic. People misread people all the time trying to read body language. While you may say that’s their problem, in reality it becomes your problem. People make assumptions and left unchecked, it becomes their reality.
I am not suggesting that you have to paste a fake smile on your face all the time, but be aware when someone questions you…and perhaps you can bump it up a bit or at the very least let them know that you might come across as more of a serious person when in fact you quite content.
Think about if your body language sends mixed signals to others. If so, try to be conscious when it happens and make some subtle changes. Do they react to you different? If not, try something else.
The more you can do to educate others about your body language if is different from others, the easier it will be for you to connect with others.