Without being aware of it, you may be sending your spa and massage practice clients mixed messages in spite of the fact that your words are positive and encouraging. That’s because your body language or nonverbal communication -- subtle movements, facial expressions and gestures - speaks volumes about what you really are thinking or feeling. A study conducted by Dr. Albert Mehabrian at UCLA indicated that the nonverbal aspects of your communication reveal your underlying emotions, motives and feelings. In response, people will evaluate the emotional content of your message by your nonverbal signals over your words

Tips for positive nonverbal cues

Whether you are greeting a new client, discussing a therapeutic massage regimen, suggesting a retail product or offering tips about skincare at home between sessions, make sure your body language matches your verbal enthusiasm.  Here are some tips to give the right nonverbal cues to build a solid relationship and gain client trust.

Smile: Smile at the other person periodically. Used just the right number of times in a conversation; a smile helps to convey interest, enthusiasm and empathy. Nodding your head is another way to let someone know you are in agreement or you can relate to what they are telling you.

Maintain eye contact: Focus your attention on the person you are talking to. Maintain eye contact throughout the conversation to assure the other person that you are interested. You will want to occasionally blink or look away briefly, however, to avoid coming across as overbearing.

Stand tall: Keep your head up and back straight but not stiff. Your shoulders should be relaxed. This type of posture conveys a greater sense of interest and also indicates that you are comfortable in your surroundings.

Lean in when seated. Sit towards the front of the chair if you are seated when having a conversation. Also lean in slightly, which indicates that you are engaged in the conversation.

Be mindful of your arms and legs: Your arms and legs can say a lot about your comfort or lack of it when you are talking to someone. When you cross your arms, you appear defensive. Crossing your arms and legs signals that you are closing yourself off from the conversation. You also don’t want to put your hands behind your back when you are standing and talking to someone. It gives the impression that you are bored or possibly angry with the person or situation.

Speak with your hands:  Use your hands to emphasize a word or make a point. However, don’t overdo it. Too many hand gestures can distract someone from what you are saying. Also don’t fidget with your hands. It detracts from the confidence you want to exude.

Always be present: Don’t undermine your positive body language by looking at your smartphone or watch. You want to be in the present at all times when you are talking to someone.

Next time you have a conversation with someone, be mindful of your body language to make sure it is sending the right message.