How to Read Body Language Now

A while ago, I was going to give a presentation in Japan and thought I could simply walk from my hotel to the meeting place. After all, it was a nice day and the meeting place was only a few blocks away.

Bad idea. Within a few minutes, I was hopelessly lost and running out of time. My audience was already gathered in the auditorium, waiting for me to come on stage in five minutes.

Out of desperation, I hailed a taxi and gave him a piece of paper with the auditorium’s address written on it. He looked at the paper and he looked at me somewhat quizzically, got out of his taxi, and then came around to the passenger side of his taxi.

I was immediately relieved that I was going to get some help in getting to my destination. But I was also shocked. He was wearing a blazer, dress shirt, tie, cap, and gloves. He opened the door for me, bowed, smiled, and waved me in.

I was even more shocked when he pulled away from the curb, made a big U-turn, and parked his taxi directly across the street from where he had picked me up. He got out of his taxi, came around to my side, opened the door, and with a big smile and a sweeping gesture, indicated this was the auditorium I was looking for.

To say the least, I was embarrassed. But I was also impressed with his customer service. Unlike some taxi drivers who would have been mightily upset with a short-haul, small-fare passenger, he was a professional through and through. And his BODY LANGUAGE said so, loud and clear.

Over the years, I’ve found that people fall into one of two categories.  You’re either a Customer Buster or a Customer Builder.  And it doesn’t matter if you work with internal or external customers.  And it doesn’t matter if your customers are other folks in business or the folks who live under your roof.  You’re either busting or building the relationships you have with those other people.

The most important question is … Which one are you?  A Buster or a Builder?

The answer can be found in your BODY LANGUAGE.

After all, it’s your body language that reveals your real feelings and attitudes.  While your mouth may be saying one thing, your body almost always reveals the truth.  And the same is true of other people and their body language.

That’s why I invite you to my new, live webinar on BODY LANGUAGE: How To Read What Every Body Is Saying, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT on April 25.  I will be sharing 60 minutes of powerful, practical information that will give you a distinct advantage in any conversation.

To get more information or to reserve your seat for the BODY LANGUAGE webinar, click here.

Let’s take a look to see which one you are.  Are you exhibiting more Busting nonverbals or more Building nonverbals?

For starters,

  • 1. BUSTING body language reveals negative feelings and attitudes.

It’s like the catering manager who was discussing a baby’s christening party with a young couple. He told the mother, “You look like you’ve lost most of your pregnancy weight.”

“Thanks,” came the clenched-teeth reply from the mother. “We adopted.”

 You can easily imagine the tone of voice and the facial expressions the mother used in her response.  And the entire meaning of her response, her real attitudes and feelings would have been revealed in her body language, not the words she chose.

Nonverbal communication busters have one thing in the common.  They all communicate the same message … that “You are not important and I don’t respect you.”

Take a look at the list of busting behaviors.  Perhaps you know someone who behaves in one or more of these ways.  Maybe you do, too.


  • He avoids eye contact, smiles, and other signs of welcoming body language.
  • She presents an unprofessional appearance.
  • He appears disengaged, perhaps leaning against a counter, with his hands in his pocket and his mind wandering.
  • She appears too busy to drop her current task and engage with someone else who might need her time and attention.
  • He appears distracted while talking or listening to a customer or another person.
  • She appears unable or unwilling to find some kind of personal connection with the customer.
  • He makes little or no attempt to engage the customer and the others that are with him.
  • She makes little or no attempt to understand the other person’s needs.
  • He asks superficial questions that only focus on products and services.
  • She does not show empathy for the customer’s needs.
  • He does not bother to thank the customer for his interest, time, or purchase.
  • She lacks an obvious enthusiasm for helping customers.
  • He appears to be simply going through the motions instead of truly caring about the customer’s needs.
  • She exudes a small amount of energy.
  • He exhibits an unwillingness to help customers from other departments.
  • She exhibits an unwillingness to go the extra mile when a customer has a question/problem or a product is out of stock.
  • He treats customers as an interruption to his work rather than the reason for his work.

Bottom line: if you engage in any of the nonverbal behaviors I’ve just listed, you’re going to bust up the relationship you have or could have with another person.  Whether that relationship is with a prospect, a customer, a colleague, a friend or family member.

So don’t do them!  Any of them!

By contrast, Customer Builders are like my Japanese taxi driver who used extremely positive body language.


  •   2. BUILDING body language reveals positive feelings and attitudes.

In fact, I was so impressed with my taxi driver that I did a little research and found out he worked for the MK Taxi Company and every one of their drivers was like my driver.

MK Taxi Chairman Sadao Aoki believes, “If I take care of my passengers by taking care of my drivers, then my drivers will make their passengers feel very special.”

Aoki is right. The company treats its drivers with so much respect that they in turn treat their customers with respect.

Their culture of respect goes to every aspect of their customer-service business … from their vehicles to other drivers on the road. MK drivers keep their cabs spotless. When a driver does not have a passenger, he’s sweeping, cleaning, polishing and detailing his cab. And when he’s on the road, MK drivers are known for being more courteous than the average driver.

Much like the nonverbal communication busters, nonverbal builders communicate one overriding message.  This time the building message says, “You are IMPORTANT and I RESPECT you.”

Take a look at the list of building non-verbals.  Pat yourself on the back for every one of them you do consistently, and get to work on doing the ones you’re not using all the time.


  • You have a genuine interest in people.
  • You demonstrate a visible enthusiasm and a high level of energy.
  • You have a true desire to help customers whether or not you make the sale.
  • You are committed to customer satisfaction.
  • You respect others regardless of age, income, race, religion, or education.
  • You appreciate the opportunity to serve others.
  • You create a personal connection with each customer.
  • You get to know each customer as an individual.
  • You connect with the other individuals that are with the customer.
  • You engage the customer in dialogue so you can determine what the customer needs and why he/she needs it.
  • You demonstrate excellent product/service knowledge and you can answer customer questions and resolve customer problems.
  • You demonstrate respect for the customer with a warm tone of voice, welcoming body language, and friendly facial expressions.
  • You use active, empathic listening skills to make the customer feel understood.
  • You tell the truth, even if it means the customer may go somewhere else.
  • You work at making every customer interaction a pleasant experience without expecting anything in return.

The more nonverbal behaviors you exhibit from this relationship building list, the better off you’re going to be.  They pay off in bigger sales, happier customers, stronger relationships, and higher engagement with every other person in your life and work.  So go ahead and do them.

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 931 – How to Read Body Language Now