The Important Connection Between Body Language and EQ

Just from experience, you know that body language speaks volumes (pun intended – I couldn’t help myself). In fact, in some studies it shows 93% of daily communication is nonverbal – 93%!

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, the foremost expert on nonverbal communication, conducted several studies on the subject. He found that:

  • 7% of any message is conveyed through words
  • 38% through certain vocal elements
  • 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc.)

Because more than half of our communication is made through body language, paying attention to it is extremely important – especially at work. And that’s where your emotional intelligence (EQ) comes in.

As may recall, EQ is the sum of four parts:

  1. Self-awareness: understanding what makes you tick
  2. Self-management: regulating your emotions in any given situation
  3. Social awareness: being able to “read” other people
  4. Relationship management: interacting with other people

All four of these EQ elements are important for body language. Let’s look at each:

  1. Self-awareness: being mindful of your tone of voice, posture, etc. so you deliver your message in a way that is appropriate for the situation
  2. Self-management: paying attention to and mitigating changes in your body language as the situation changes
  3. Social awareness: understanding other people’s body language
  4. Relationship management: changing your own body language and adjusting your message per the situation

Of course, none of this information is useful unless we understand the meaning behind body language. Here are five that are common in the workplace:


  • Solid eye contact
  • Face is relaxed
  • Hand movements are flowing and wide
  • Arms are open
  • Walking with purpose
  • Firm handshake

Nervous or uncertain

  • Unable to hold eye contact; frequently looking away
  • Face is tight and tense
  • Fists are clenched
  • Hand movements are jerky
  • Arms are folded close
  • Walking is tentative
  • Weak handshake


  • Little to no eye contact; eyes may be downcast
  • Arms are crossed over chest
  • Hand gestures are small and close to the body
  • Face is mostly neutral
  • Body is physically turned away from you

Bored and not paying attention

  • Head is down
  • Little to no eye contact; looking at something else
  • Eyes are glazed
  • Hands are fidgeting with something or doodling
  • Sitting slumped in chair

Thinking (before responding)

  • Eye contact is broken; it returns when answering
  • Finger(s) stroking or resting on chin
  • Hand is placed on cheek
  • Head is tilted to an angle, eyes looking up or into the distance

Have a question about another aspect of body language and EQ not covered here? Leave me a comment or contact us at Winning Ways and we will be happy to help!

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Phone(703) 434-3990

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