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Body language is a form of mental and physical ability of human non-verbal communication, consisting of body posture,gestures, facial expressions,

and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously. James Borg states that human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic cues,
[1]

while

only

7% that

of this

communication is a

consists

of of

words the

themselves; however, Albert Mehrabian, the researcher whose 1960s work is the source of these statistics,
[2]

has

stated

misunderstanding

findings (see Misinterpretation of Mehrabian's rule). Others assert that "Research has suggested that between 60 and 70 percent of all meaning is derived from nonverbal behavior." Body language may provide clues as to the attitude or state of mind of a person. For example, it may indicate aggression,attentiveness, boredom, relaxed state, pleasure, amusement, and intoxication, among many other clues.

Top Ten Body Language Tips


1. Eye Contact Eye contact is one of the most important aspects of dealing with others, especially people we've just met. Maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest in what they have to say. We tend to keep eye contact around 60-70% of the time, (however, there are wide cultural differences, so be careful in other countries). By doing this you won't make the other people feel self conscious, like they've got a bit of vegetable stuck between their teeth or a dew drop hanging from the nose. Instead, it will give them a feeling of comfort and genuine warmth in your company. Any more eye contact than this and you can be too intense, any less and you give off a signal that you are lacking interest in them or their conversation. 2. Posture Posture is the next thing to master. Get your posture right and you'll automatically start feeling better, as it makes you feel good almost instantly. Next time you notice you're feeling a bit down, take a look at how youre standing or sitting. Chances are you'll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which in turn can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable. 3. Head Head position is a great one to play around with. When you want to feel confident and self assured keep your head level both horizontally and vertically. You can also use this straight head position when you want to be authoritative and want what you're saying to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or other. You can shift the tilt from left to right at different points in the conversation.

4. Arms Arms give away the clues as to how open and receptive we are to everyone we meet and interact with, so keep your arms out to the side of your body or behind your back. This shows you are not scared to take on whatever comes your way and you meet things "full frontal". In general terms the more outgoing you are as a person, the more you tend to use your arms with big movements. The quieter you are the less you move your arms away from your body. So, try to strike a natural balance and keep your arm movements midway. When you want to come across in the best possible light, crossing the arms is a no-no in front of others. Obviously if someone says something that gets your goat, then by all means show your disapproval by crossing them! 5. Legs Legs are the furthest point away from the brain, and consequently they're the hardest bits of our bodies to consciously control. They tend move around a lot more than normal when we are nervous, stressed or being deceptive. So best to keep them as still as possible in most situations, especially at interviews or work meetings. Be careful too in the way you cross your legs. Do you cross at the knees, ankles or bring your leg up to rest on the knee of the other? This is more a question of comfort than anything else. Just be aware that the last position mentioned is known as the "Figure Four" and is generally perceived as the most defensive leg cross, especially if it happens as someone tells you something that might be of a slightly dubious nature, or moments after (as always, look for a sequence). 6. Body Angle Angle of the body in relation to others gives an indication of our attitudes and feelings towards them. We angle toward people we find attractive, friendly and interesting and angle ourselves away from those we don't - it's that simple! Angles include leaning in or away from people, as we often just tilt from the pelvis and lean sideways to someone to share a bit of conversation. For example, we are not in complete control of our angle at the cinema because of the seating nor at a concert when we stand shoulder to shoulder and are packed in like sardines. In these situations we tend to lean over towards the other person. 7. Hand Gestures Hand gestures are so numerous it's hard to give a brief guide...but here goes. Palms slightly up and outward is seen as open and friendly. Palm down gestures are generally seen as dominant and possibly aggressive, especially when there is no movement or bending between the wrist and the forearm. This palm up, palm down is very important when it comes to handshaking and, where appropriate, we suggest you always offer a handshake upright and vertical, which should convey equality. 8. Spatial Relations Distance from others is crucial if you want to give off the right signals. Stand too close and you'll be marked as "pushy" or "in your face". Stand or sit too far away and you'll be "keeping your distance" or "stand offish". Neither is what we want, so observe if in a group situation how close all the other people are to each other. Also notice if you move closer to someone and they back away - you're probably just a tiny bit too much in their personal space, their comfort zone. "You've overstepped the mark" and should pull back a little.

9. Ears Yes your ears play a vital role in communication with others, even though in general terms most people can't move them much, if at all. However, you've got two ears and only one mouth, so try to use them in that order. If you listen twice as much as you talk you come across as a good communicator who knows how to strike up a balanced a conversation without being me, me, me or the wallflower. 10. Mouth Mouth movements can give away all sorts of clues. We purse our lips and sometimes twist them to the side when we're thinking. Another occasion we might use this movement is to hold back an angry comment we don't wish to reveal. Nevertheless, it will probably be spotted by other people and although they may not comment, they will get a feeling you were not too pleased. There are also different types of smiles and each gives off a corresponding feeling to its recipient which we'll cover next time.

The Vocabulary Of Body Language Body language, unlike spoken language, is inexact; so you have to be careful about how you interpret it. A certain movement or facial expression may be quite meaningful, or it may mean nothing at all. As a starting point, the following sections provide you with some common body language terms and their generally-accepted meanings.

3.1 Positive Body Language


Positive body language is generally quite reliable as an indicator of a person's feelings. It signals interest in the other person and in the conversation. Relaxed posture - Comfortably seated, relaxed breathing, no visible stiffness or abrupt movements. These indicate no major barriers to communication. Arms relaxed - Uncrossed arms and hands open (palms up or otherwise visible to the other person) are signs of openness. Good eye contact - Looking in the other person's eyes, particularly when they are speaking, indicates interest in that person. Proper eye contact involves looking away occasionally to avoid staring. Nodding agreement - When nods are used to punctuate key things the other person has said, they signal agreement, interest and understanding. However, continual unconscious bobbing of the head usually indicates that the listener is tuning out. Taking notes - Shows interest and involvement, particularly if notes are on what the other person is saying. Smiling/adding humour - This is a very positive sign. It signals a warm personal relationship.

Leaning closer - Reducing the distance between two people, particularly when the other person is speaking. Indicates interest is up and barriers are down. Gesturing warmly - Talking with hands, particularly with palms open, indicates involvement in the conversation and openness to the other person. For all of these positive gestures, moderation is the rule. When they are exaggerated, they can become more negative than positive.

3.2 Negative Body Language


Negative body language is somewhat less reliable as an indicator of the person's comfort with the current conversation than positive body language. Actions that are generally considered negative may just be a matter of comfort for this person, may indicate that the person is tired, or may result from other matters that are weighing on this person's mind. Body tense - Stiffness, wrinkled brow, jerky body motion, hands clasped in front or palms down on the table. These can indicate concern with the topic or dealing with the other person.Body Language Arms folded in front - Creates a barrier; can express resistance to what is being said. Hand on face - A hand over one's mouth is a closed gesture. Leaning on one's elbow with the chin in the hand can communicate boredom. Fidgeting - Moving around a lot, playing with things and drumming fingers are usually a sign of boredom, nervousness or impatience. Arms behind head, leaning back - In a well-established relationship this can be a relaxed gesture. In a new relationship, it is often used to express a desire for control or power. Yawning - Boredom, confusion. The other person is talking too much or in too much technical detail. Impatience - Trying to interrupt what the other person is saying, opening one's mouth frequently as if to speak. Distractio- Eyes flicking about, blank stares, flipping through literature without really reading it, looking at others in the office, looking at the person's body or clothing. Leaning away - Avoiding moving closer, even when something is handed to the person, is strongly negative. Negative facial expressions - These include shaking head, eyes narrowed, scowling, frowning.

Types of kinesics
Kinesics is the interpretation of body language such as facial expressions and gestures or, more formally, non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body or the body as a whole. The term was first used (in 1952) by Ray Birdwhistell, an anthropologist who wished to study how people communicate through posture, gesture, stance, and movement, and later popularised during the late 1960's by members of the counter-culture seeking to de-verbalize human communication[citation needed]. Part of Birdwhistell's work involved filming people in social situations and analyzing them to show different levels of communication not clearly seen otherwise. The study was joined by several other anthropologists, including Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. How we move, which is often referred to as "body language", is called Kinesics by social scientists. As we have indicated earlier, the interpretation of these body movements is subject to change based on culture and gender. Researchers Ekman and Friesen established five basic purposes that these kind of movement serve, Emblems, Illustrators, Affect Displays, Regulators and Adaptors. Let's look briefly at each in turn.

Emblems
Emblems are nonverbal signals that can generally be translated directly into words. Most people within a culture or group agree on their meaning. A good example is the "A-OK" symbol made with the thumb and forefinger. Because these gestures can be directly translated into words, they are quick to use and unambiguous in their meaning. However, as we noted earlier, culture quickly comes into play when you move outside of your "home" culture. For instance, in many parts of the world this gesture is directly translated as "OK", but in other places it might be translated as "Zero" or "None", and in others it is even understood to represent an obscene gesture representing a body orifice. Quite a different interpretation than being OK!

Illustrators
Illustrators are movements that complement verbal communication by describing or accenting or reinforcing what the speaker is saying. People use illustrators to indicate the size of an object or to draw a picture in the air or to emphasize a key word in what they are saying. These might include pointing to an object in the room or pounding on the table. The frequency of use of illustrators may vary by culture, but they are used widely. Use of illustrators can help indicate interest, efforts to be clear or enthusiasm for the topic being discussed.

Affect Displays
Affect displays are nonverbal displays of the body or face that carry an emotional meaning or display affective states. Our gait (bouncing, suggesting happiness for instance, or slouched and shuffling, suggesting depression), and our facial movements (breaking into a big grin, suggesting pleasure, or frowning suddenly indicating displeasure) send a message about our

feelings. Affect displays are often spontaneous and thus they may send signals that we would rather not convey based on social norms or our goals for communication. We will explore facial expressions more in a later section.

Regulators
Regulators are nonverbal messages that accompany speech to control or regulate what the speaker is saying. These might including the nodding of the head to indicate you are listening or understanding something, for instance, and you are encouraging the speaker to continue. Regulars are often associated with turn-taking in conversation, influencing the flow and pace of discussion. For instance, we might start to move away, signaling that we want communication to stop, or we may raise a finger or lift our head to indicate we want to speak, or perhaps show our palm to indicate we don't want a turn at speaking.

Adaptors
Adaptors are forms of nonverbal communication that often occur at a low level of personal awareness. They can be thought of a behaviors that are done to meet a personal need as one adapts to the specific communication situation. They include behaviors like twisting your hair, tapping your pen, scratching, tugging on your ear, pushing your glasses up your nose, holding yourself, swinging your legs, etc. Given the low level of awareness of these behaviors by the person doing them, the observer is sometimes more aware of the behaviors than the doer of them. Adaptors may thus serve unintentionally as clues to how a person is feeling. Adaptors are not intended for use in communication, but rather may represent behaviors learned early in life that are somehow cued by the current situation and which may be increased when the level of anxiety goes up in the situation.