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Checking Body Language during a Critical Conversation

Body language often alerts you that someone’s not invested in a critical conversation. When that happens, how can you check someone’s body language and focus them back on the conversation?

Body language says a lot. Of course, you may not always have the luxury of seeing how someone is reacting if you can’t have the conversation face to face, but even if you’re 1,000 miles away, body language can make a critical conversation quickly go south.

If someone is tapping his feet, rolling his eyes, or crossing his arms, you may ask the individual to assess his own level of participation in the conversation. You could say, “I sense a bit of hesitation. Am I right?” If you’re in a group conversation, you may stop and ask whether the others agree and what the group wants to do about the situation.

If you’re in a one-on-one discussion, you can be even more direct and state what you see and ask what would help the other person become more involved in the conversation.

Of course, some body language cues are simply nerves — so give yourself and the other individuals a break and accept that some people may have nervous or fidgety reactions to receiving tough news during a critical conversation.

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