Feet Don’t Lie! An Expert’s Tips on Reading Body Language
One look at how people are standing and Linda Clemons can tell the type of work they’d be best at and the outlook they typically bring to what they do. She can scan a room and spot the risk-taker, the decision maker, the most likely to be biased or to succeed.
Fake it til’ you make it? Not around Clemons. She can call out a crafty liar, even if they don’t utter a word.
The CEO of Indianapolis-based Sisterpreneur Inc., is a body language expert, certified in undercover surveillance tactics she uses to benefit clients from Southwest Airlines, Nestlé, and Major League Baseball to U.S. Customs and the FBI.
Petite and unassuming, she also consults with lawyers on jury selection and Fortune 500 clients seeking competitive advantages for their sales teams.
The ability to seamlessly blend into a room is a job requirement, but hand Clemons a mic and she transforms into her own version of Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce. Entertaining and on-point in her ability to connect with audiences of all ages and backgrounds, she will have you in stitches, even as she goes about the very serious work of schooling you on the nonverbal cues that are the most telling, and useful.
Here are her top three tips on reading body language:
Feet don’t lie. The eyes may be the window to the soul but, in non-verbal communication, the most illuminating cues happen south of the face. Feet, for example, point in the direction that we really want to go. Have you ever been in a networking situation and you’re in a circle and all of a sudden someone’s foot turns out even though they seem engaged? Says Clemons: “They’re ready to get up out of there.”
Even in silence, the mouth says a lot. Biting a bottom lip or pressing the mouth together is a sure signal of holding back. Clemons explains, “It’s what you automatically do in a meeting when somebody says something and you think to yourself, `That is absolutely cray-cray.’ Then you’re asked what you think and your first response is lip compression.”
Mastering eye contact is tricky. Yes, eye contact matters and “Don’t be the first to look down,” says Clemons, “because that signifies defeat or submissiveness.” Her secret for winning at the steady-gaze game? Rather than look directly into the eyes, look slightly above the brow line. It’s easier to hold that gaze and not look away, but the effect is the same.