Body language is an important communication tool which can constitute 50% or more of what we are communicating to other people. If you wish to communicate effectively, it makes sense to understand how you can (and cannot) use your body to say what you mean.
What is body language?
Body language describes the method of communicating using body movements or gestures instead of, or in addition to, verbal language. The interpretation of body language, such as facial expressions and gestures, is formally called kinesics. Body language includes subtle, unconscious movements, including winking and slight movements of the eyebrows and other facial expressions.
Body language is one of the easiest ways for you to tell what’s really going on in a conversation with another person. It can be used to discover all sorts of things such as, knowing when someone is attracted to you, creating romantic interest in someone you desire, detecting truth and lies, portraying confidence and commanding respect in any situation. You can also use body language to put people at ease, make friends instantly, persuade and influence.
What messages are you sending?
Our body language is a display of our motives. We are like walking advertisements displaying our thoughts or feelings at any given moment. When using body language make sure you are sending the right signals (to the right person, of course). This is important because your voice, expressions, behaviour and movements can, and do, say a lot about your attitude and the mood that you are in.
Smiling is one of the simplest and most effective forms of communication. If someone smiles at us, we typically respond by smiling back. The communication between you and the other person has started, just as in a normal conversation. Everyone understands what a smile means just as everyone understands what a frown means. In fact, smiling and frowning are universally recognised facial expressions.
Hugs are so beautiful! When you give or receive a hug, the hug can ‘speak’ volumes about how much you care for the other person, how much love you want to share with them and how much you have missed them. Hugs have so much to say, and yet no words need be spoken.
Body language in the world of romance is very common. Most of the time, body language is the first interaction between a couple. Across a crowded room, their eyes meet and linger, he winks at her, she raises an eyebrow. The connection has been made without any words spoken. After all, the old saying is ‘love at first sight’ not ‘love at first word’.
If you’re your own walking advertisement, how can you guarantee to be a best seller?
By being aware of what language your body is revealing. Let us have a look at a very common situation, and one that we have all found ourselves in.
How do you sell yourself during a job interview?
First, you have to start with the packaging. The way you dress can make an important first impression. Your potential new boss will be thinking one of several things. ‘Seriously, did they get lost on the way to the beach this morning?’ or ‘Neat, smart and professional, just what we’re looking for!’
Secondly, it’s focus on what’s underneath the wrapping. Nerves can be pretty sneaky and annoying and have a way of unconsciously making the body act in certain ways. Be aware of the nervous bouncing foot, because it can sometimes let everyone know your heart rate is speeding. Be careful about barricading yourself in with crossed arms. Keep your arms relaxed and unfolded to indicate that you are open to new experiences. Making eye contact is very important. You may feel nervous, but use the language of the body to impress your interviewer. Make it work for you!
Sometimes interpreting body language can be confusing, especially when people are saying one thing with their mouth and something different with their body. It is like watching a movie that has been dubbed, or a DVD that has a slight sound delay. The mismatch between what is being said, and the movement of the person’s mouth is very noticeable. This is exactly like the mismatch between someone’s words and their body language. Do you believe your father when he says he is not angry, or do you believe the tense muscles and the clenched jaw which barely allow him to get the words out in the first place? Words or body language? Which is telling the truth?
Body language is an important tool to help you navigate the people around you. These basic examples show just how powerful body language can be. Knowing how to read and use body language effectively, makes it easy to see why it is not always a bad thing to be lost for words!