Posted by tac_admin, November 7, 2012

Lost in Translation: Is Your Body Language Interfering with Your Message?

Did you know that 55% of your message is conveyed through nonverbal cues?

As a Business Analyst, this little known fact is especially important. During requirements sessions, it is the Business Analyst’s job not only to capture the requirements being given, but also to facilitate discussion about those requirements and take the conversation to a deeper level.

As the liaison between the business (SMEs) and the technology team (developers, system architects, DBAs, etc.), BAs have the added responsibility to communicate effectively between the groups. Similarly, the Test Analyst is often the liaison between the BA, business, and the development team during testing, which means it’s just as important for the Test Analyst to communicate successfully, too.

To help my clients navigate the murky waters of mixed messages, misunderstandings, and inappropriate reactions, I’ve compiled this helpful chart. Take a look, and make sure your body language is delivering the right message:

Normally Positive Gestures /Interpretation  

 Nodding head/”I see or understand”

Stroking chin/Serious evaluation or deep consideration

 Counting things off on your fingers/Confidence and logic

Leaning forward/Intensity and interest

Arms in open position/Openness to ideas and suggestions

Smiling/Agreement or approval


Normally Negative Gestures/Interpretation

 Rolling eyes/“That was a stupid remark”

Rubbing eyes, forehead, brows/Suspicion or rejection

Clearing throat/Nervousness

Open palms below chest level/Hopelessness, plea to be understood

Wagging finger back and forth/“You are wrong”


Chewing pencil or other object/Nervousness and uncertainty

Crossing arms over chest/“I disagree” or rejection of message

Deep sighing/Impatience or boredom

Smirking/Self-superiority and condescension

A note about eye contact: when communicating with your team, it’s important you display a confident demeanor. In addition to applying the positive gestures as listed above, be sure you’re using the appropriate level of eye contact.

Maintain contact for a count of three, look away briefly, and reestablish the connection. Staring is easily regarded as intimidating and disrespectful, whereas avoiding eye contact sends negative messages such as arrogance, untrustworthiness, and disinterest.

When talking on the phone, stand in front of a mirror, and see which of these gestures you’re most naturally inclined to make while communicating. If you inadvertently keep making negative ones, consciously adjust your behavior until it becomes habit to only pair positive signals with your verbal message.

Do you need help improving your communication skills? Check out my online training course to gain confidence in your skill set and improve your job satisfaction.


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