I am listening.

Yesterday, we talked about body language which screamed, “I am not listening.” So, what body language does the listener employ?

Good Eye Contact

Look them in the eye when you speak.

Even if your audience is not looking directly into your eyes, it should be watching your face or hands (if you are gesturing). Eye contact translates to “seeing eye-to-eye”.

Faced Forward

When listeners sit or stand with their bodies facing directly toward you, they are being receptive to your message.  Their standing posture will be comfortable, hands at sides (or in pockets) one knee bent for comfort. Horses stand with one foot slack to show trust and comfort…same theory.

Leaning In

The opposite of verbal limbo, your audience is trying to get closer to you. This posture means they are seeking what you are saying. The most comfortable lean-in is with the elbows on the knees. The most exaggerated cases are the hanging on the edge of the seat crowd.


Your audience is agreeing with you or learning something. This is the personification of the light bulb going off over their heads. In severe cases, it comes with three snaps up and a twist.

Feet forward and still.

Feet Still

No foot fidgeting means they are not trying to flee. The feet are firmly planted on solid ground receiving your message.

Hands in Lap

Your audience is not threatened by your message. There is no need for a defensive posture, and they are unlikely to deflect your ideas. Unless taking notes or raising a hand for a question, their hands will remain immobile for the majority of what you say.

Head Tilt

When the brain is engaged, people will often tilt their heads, signifying they are working your subject into their understanding of (the situation, the process, the ideal). It shows although your message is not the one they would have delivered, it is amenable.

Loose Expression

Muscles in the face tighten when people are stressed, angry or disagreeable. A slack expression means the person has not yet formed an opinion of your topic and is still gathering information.


Nothing is better than a smile. The sign of agreement, happiness and excitement, a smile means your audience is engaged in your message and happy to be. Seek this type of body language with all of your messages.

Sweet Layers


Layered body language is when you are seeing more than one of the above. Like a parfait, it is sweet to see more layers of listening.

Just Because

You need to remember, just because your audience is listening does not mean they understand what you meant. If you are getting all the receptive body signs, take the time to ask questions to gauge understanding. When they answer in concurrence, you will be the one with the smile.


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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  1. My plan is to avoid eye contact at the party tonight – hope nobody takes it the wrong way. I’d include a picture of my gross bloody eye her, but I can’t. 🙂

    Interesting post – I’ll be observing my own feet tonight.

    • Lol! I had hoped the eye would be better…and let those feet move to the music. Then, you have an excuse for not listening! Have fun tonight! Red.

  2. Yes eye contact is very important, now then Red
    I will need a spoon for those wicked desserts 🙂 😉


    Yes a tad Naughty but hey I am always Naughty 🙂
    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year 2012 Red 🙂 😉

    Androgoth XXx

    • And a very Merry Christmas to you, Andro. And have a Happy Naughty New Year as well 😉 Red.

      • Thank you Red 🙂
        I will certainly try that is
        for sure 🙂 I know that it’s
        going to be a very special
        year for you and you really
        do deserve it 🙂

        hey raise a glass of the Red
        and enjoy a wondrously sweet
        Christmas time 🙂 😉

        Androgoth XXx

  3. Interesting: Did you know that if you yawn in Japan when your boss is talking it has the same effect on him as slapping him in the face?

    All these body language signs are not universal and vary depending on country and culture…

    Love and hugs!


    • I know about crossing country lines with bad behavior which is not bad in your part of the world! Fortunately, I stay close to home 😉 {HUGZ} Red.

  4. Even when we are unaware, we are often assessing other’s body language and reading into it, sometimes incorrectly. Our bodies always give us away! It would be nice if people understood that their cultural mores are not the same everywhere and not expect everyone to know and obey them.

    That happens within countries as well. I have a friend who was raised to ultimate politeness (well, that’s debatable, but…). So she has a hard time with certain things in other people (even while violating those rules herself at times). She’s had to learn to accept me as I am lol.

    • I think the cultural differences in the US are phenomenal. I grew up in the real (deep, deep) south. Things I consider polite, others wonder what in the world I am doing. I introduced two men recently. The elder first, then the younger. The younger said, “You used my last name!” Well, duh. Meh.

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