Skip to Content

English Programs for Internationals

Non-verbal communication

Many misunderstandings can happen because of non-verbal communication or body language.

Eye Contact:  Briefly look into someone’s eyes when you are speaking.  The listener should look at the speaker's eyes constantly. If you do not look into the speaker’s eyes when you are listening, he will think you are not listening, you don’t care or that you are not trustworthy.

Touching: Touching people often makes them uncomfortable. Men are especially nervous when touched by another man.

Space: People expect others to be at least an arm's length away from them. If you get closer than this, people will move away from you; they do not dislike you; you are "in their space."  Also, you will hear people say, "Excuse me," although they have not actually touched anyone. No matter where you are, remember to give people an arm’s length of space.

Head:  Shaking the head left to right means no.  Shaking the head up and down means yes.

Standing up:  Standing up during a meeting signals that the meeting is over.