You’ve probably heard the common saying that 70% to 93% of communication is nonverbal.
Experts, coaches, and movies bring this stat up all the time. So, then this is VERY IMPORTANT. Yet how often do we work on this? How you move, your vocal range, your vocal tone, your facial expressions, your eyes, mouth, arms, and the rest of your body movements really matter in persuading, attracting, or presenting yourself properly.
But it turns out that it’s difficult to improve in this area on your own, especially if you unwittingly picked up a lot of low-status habits over the decades. I’ve been casually working on improving this area of my life for a few years, and I’ve found that I have only made tiny bits of improvement. While it helps to be aware, join Toastmasters, and read tons of body language books, I have found that this level of theory and practice prevents you from serious progress because our blind spots still exist and there’s a lack of tough love feedback and real practice.
I loved FBI investigator Joe Navarro’s books on body language. But only reading a book that lists out all the different types of facial expressions and arm postures is like reading a book teaching someone how to play basketball without ever playing basketball. You’re going to get much farther by actually practicing with a ball with someone than only reading about it.
In that article, I talked about how I didn’t realize I lacked vocal tone and expressiveness until it was pointed out, which is arguably part of subcommunication. This time, I want to focus on my actual body movements. It was through coaching that I learned from a few individuals of the quirky things I was doing wrong with how I move my body while dating.
No one had ever told me. For example, don’t do a lot of erratic, quick movements with your hands, head, and arms that subtly communicate feminine rather than masculine energy. I would shake my head left to right and move it around a lot, especially when nervous or trying to show more energy and passion in a conversation. When I was taking a photo or lounging, I sometimes put out my hand with the palm pressing the bench and fingers pointed behind me. I would extend my arm to the full extent rather having a bend.
It’s hard to describe my body movement with words, but the point is the coaches would catch me doing something off and point it out. They would then point out other things that are feminine that I should be cognizant of, like hands with a loose wrist flopped forward or back is bad, but fists or firm hands with the fingers pointed is fine or that you never want your arms or legs fully extended and you can place your hand on the bench with your fingers pointed forward, but not palm on the bench fingers pointed back because the latter is feminine. And to take up a lot more space and spread my legs further apart while sitting. Or … here’s another one: stop always putting your hands in your pockets; it shows lack of confidence. Every person is different, so you may have different body language issues, but these were some of mine.
Naturals figure this out on their own. But I didn’t have this luck. As an adult, I had to learn it from others. One person I got a lot of coaching from was one of the best dating app photographers in the world @matchgods on Instagram. I didn’t come to him for subcommunication coaching, but it became apparent on the photoshoot how important it is for conveying the right energy in pictures.
He told me, “You’re a handsome dude, Will. It’s just your subcommunication is off.”
He could tell. We discussed how some people could get away with a selfie and get many matches because their facial expressions and pose just expresses a certain energy, feel, and masculinity about them. Whereas, even if you had a high-quality show with good fashion, if your body language is subtly off, it may get less matches.
This man is a master at attractive body language. I saw him in action, and while he’s naturally good, he said he also spent years developing these movements. I struggled the most with the facial expressions. He kept telling me I need to be more subtle. It’s a matter of centimeters of difference in the mouth being open or closed, a side of the lips in a smirk.the eyes having that steely, masculine look versus looked posed and stiff. With over 30 muscles in the face, I wasn’t even close to as good as him, and I realized this is something I’ll have to practice for many years after to get better. Luckily, we were still able to pull off some good shots with his coaching.
While some people naturally have the internal mindset or upbringing to have great body language, that’s not the case for all of us. Men with the right internal mindset, culture, conditioning, think football star in high school, probably already have the right movements without even realizing it – or at least some of them. For whatever reason, some of us don’t, probably because we weren’t popular or had tons of masculine influence and feedback. Therefore, we have to study the geometry of body language like an art or craft and consciously work on it.
I’ve also heard that another approach is to change your psychology and inner mindset, and the body language will autocorrect. While doing self-love or “I’m a badass affirmations” and whatnot can’t hurt, I have tried that, and I’ve found it personally to be hard to change and best to layer that on with learning the mechanics of body language and knowing what to avoid with your body language.
This flies against the notion of “just be yourself” dating advice, which I have written about in another article and described as well-intentioned bad advice.
You may be thinking, just have male friends and they’ll point this out for you. Not really. Certainly, that’s a budget-friendly option if you can’t afford coaching and you have friends who do well with women. These coaches aren’t cheap, and you get very limited time with them, so they also often don’t have the full experience of who you are to point out everything and have all the context. However, I have found that friends are too nice to tell you, don’t think it’s a big deal, or don’t understand themselves, especially if you’re not doing anything blatantly or egregiously wrong.
I have friends I hung out with at CrossFit, played Pokemon Go with, played board games with, tried new restaurants with, and so forth. They’re not going to point it out or notice an issue if my head twitches sometimes and I’m a little quirky or have slightly feminine movements because they just think that’s me being my nerdy, quirky self. Why offend someone? And they are not killing it with women either, so they don’t know what matters or what’s right or wrong.
For instance, I did a couple days of live training (called a bootcamp) with one coach, and I learned from him that I have a very tense overall body language like I’m nervous and stiff. I should do yoga and other serious stuff to fix years of tense movement. I had no idea I moved like that. I also learned I generally come off the extreme opposite of someone who is aggressive and has a lot of an edge. Apparently, I was very passive and had no edge. I had no idea either! I thought I was at least average. These body language blind spots lead to erroneous perceptions of how you come across. The first step is awareness, which many never get to.
It doesn’t matter who you think you are, it’s all about how people perceive you. They judge books by their covers. They thin slice based on how people are marketed and presented, not how they are “on the inside”. You can be a sweet, rich person, but if all you ever convey is that you’re a douchebag homeless man, that’s all they will assume you are. That’s another harsh truth I was given.
Another approach to layer on top of coaching is to be part of a group or community with similar goals. They can give you tough love and help you understand the mechanics. One program I am part of, Men of Action, comes with a community, and I sometimes meet members in person and hang out. One of the members was working through some similar issues as me, and he didn’t hold back on how I came across. He said I need to be a lot louder at times and have a larger vocal range. I lack any expressiveness or enthusiasm, and the last thing I have to worry about is coming off too aggressive or enthusiastic. Ouch.
That’s harsh and shocking, especially since I had made over 1,000 YouTube videos over the last ten years and gotten compliments in Toastmasters about my speaking ability. I thought I was making progress, but clearly there are blind spots and room for more improvement. I welcome feedback. Don’t make the mistake of letting ego and getting offended from preventing your growth.
I’m glad I got that feedback. The summation of your body language is a huge factor to why some women get a feeling they can’t articulate on a date about why they like some men and don’t like others. They can’t articulate the geometry and mechanics of body language and vocal tonality because it’s unconscious and programmed through their DNA through millions of years of natural selection. They don’t have to understand or articulate it. They just know. And that’s enough. Attraction is not a conscious choice.
When something’s off or when it’s not. they know it. They can recognize when a man is masculine and confident or nervous, twitchy, passive, and too effeminate. You can’t get real, detailed advice from random women in public, but you will get a yes or no response on if it’s working or something’s off.
If you’re curious of one of the coaches and communities I went through, check out Men of Action.
This is an affiliate link so I will get a commission at no extra cost to you if you end up purchasing through my link. I don’t expect to make much or anything from it, but I figured I’d sign up as an affiliate if I’m going to recommend them anyways.
If you’re curious about a personal one-on-one coach I went through, check out this video interview I did with Pickup Alpha.