You are on page 1of 18

BODY LANGUAGE

Introduction
What messages are you sending? Make sure you are sending the right signals. Your voice, expressions, behaviour and movement can say a lot about your attitude. So how can you tell whats really going on? Are people being straight up or is there more to it thats not being said. Watch, look, observe. Sometimes you can tell more by a persons body language than the words they speak. Body language is a term for communication using body movements or gestures instead of, or in addition to, sounds, verbal language or other communication. It forms part of the category of paralanguage, which describes all forms of human communication that are not verbal language. This includes the most subtle of movements that many people are not aware of, including winking and slight movement of the eyebrows. In addition body language can also incorporate the use of facial expressions. Voluntary body language refers to movement, gestures and poses intentionally made by a person (e.g., conscious smiling, hand movements and imitation). It can apply to many types of soundless communication. Generally, movement made with full or partial intention and an understanding of what it communicates can be considered voluntary. Involuntary body language quite often takes the form of facial expression, and has therefore been suggested as a means to identify the emotions of a person with whom one is communicating.

BODY LANGUAGE

Understanding body language


Although they are generally not aware of it, many people send and receive non-verbal signals all the time. These signals may indicate what they are truly feeling. The technique of 'reading' people is used frequently. For example, the idea of mirroring body language to put people at ease is commonly used in interviews. It sets the person being interviewed at ease. Mirroring the body language of someone else indicates that they are understood. Body language signals may have a goal other than communication. Both people would keep this in mind. Observers limit the weight they place on non-verbal cues. Signallers clarify their signals to indicate the biological origin of their actions. Both environment and heredity influence body language. A baby's yawn or hungry bellow are biological signs and therefore universal. But a display of anger is person-specific: while some may throw tantrums, others may simply clam up. Most of these responses stem from childhood habits and environment. Your sense of territory is also an inherited faculty that affects body language. Body language is culture dependent. Some commonly used signs are 'thumbs-up' (all the best) or 'V' for (victory or peace). But if 'V' is shown with palms facing inward, it signifies obscenity. In India, gestures are often influenced by religion. Muslims wish each other by bowing their heads down and raising a cupped palm to the forehead. Hindus touch the toes of their elders. However, some actions are characteristically Indian. For example, if someone unknowingly stamps on another's feet or belongings, he immediately touches first his chest and then the forehead as a mark of respect.

BODY LANGUAGE
Lost for Words
One of the most effective forms of communication involves nothing more than the contraction of facial muscles. Everyone understands what a smile means; or a frown. In fact, it has been shown that facial expressions can be recognised across countries, regardless of language or culture. Something as simple as a hug can speak volumes about how much we care for someone. Who needs yes or no when a movement of the head does the trick? These basic examples show just how powerful body language can be. If we understand how to read and use body language then we can see why it is not always a bad thing to be lost for words. Weve all heard about body language in the romantic setting. The old saying is love at first sight not love at first word. Their eyes meet across a crowded room. He winks at her, she raises an eyebrow. A connection is made without any words needed. These displays of body language say it all. In fact, sometimes they can say more than words can. Our body language is a display of our motives. We are like walking advertisements for what we are thinking or feeling.2 Each of our behaviours is a way of alerting others to our inner workings. It is also a way of eliciting a response in someone else. We act; they react; and so on. For example, if someone smiles at us, we typically respond with an action of our own. Therefore, communication has started, just as in a normal conversation So, if youre your own advertisement, how can you guarantee to be a best seller? By being aware of what language your body is talking. For example, how do you sell yourself during an interview? Start with the packaging. Clothes can make an important statement. Do you want your potential boss thinking are they here to work, or did they get lost on the way to the beach? or neat, smart and personal, just what were trying to say!? Once youre packaged appropriately, its time to concentrate on whats underneath the wrapping. Nerves have a way of making the body act in certain ways, and they can be pretty sneaky about it. Watch the nervous foot bouncing, its letting everyone know your

BODY LANGUAGE
heart is going a mile a minute. Dont barricade yourself in with crossed arms, be open to new experiences. Make eye contact! Sure, you may be feeling nervous, but you want to think confidently, and this is the message you need to send. Use the language of the body to impress your interviewer. Make it work for you. Just as body language can let others know information about us, it can also alert us to their intentions. However, it can be confusing when people are saying one thing with their mouth and something else with their body. Have you ever seen a movie which has been dubbed? Or a video that has a slight sound delay? The mismatch between what is being said, and the movement of the mouth can be very off putting. Just like the mismatch between the words and the body language. Do we believe our dad when he says he is not angry, or do we believe the tense muscles and clenched jaw which barely allow him to get the words out in the first place? Its important to look at body language. It can give you hidden signals about how others are actually feeling. For example, its always good to be able to tell when someone else is aggressive or angry. Sure they may sound calm, but is their body saying something else? If so, then maybe now isnt the time to ask for money to buy that thing youre dying to have best raise the white flag and back off, dont you think? The story told by body language can keep you one step ahead. Basically body language is an important tool to help you navigate the people around you. Read other peoples stories and take care about how you are writing your own.

BODY LANGUAGE
Importance of Body Language
Words are inadequate
When we connect with a person, we also have to make it clear to each other how the content of a spoken message needs to be interpreted. How we do this says something about the relationship we have with the other person, or think we have anyway. Often words are inadequate for this purpose. For instance we do not tell each other that easily how we feel about each other, or how the words of a message need to be interpreted. To make the meaning of our words clear we use body language. Body language is a language without spoken words and is therefore called non verbal communication. We use body language all the time, for instance looking someone in the eyes means something different than not looking someone in the eyes. In contact with others it is just not possible to be not communicating something.

Subconsciously
Usually body language occurs unconsciously. Yet the body language we use decides to a large extent the quality of our communication. It follows that therefore it would be good to become conscious of our own and others' body language. We can learn to use our body language for a purpose. As well as learn to understand and interpret body language of others. It is important to note that body language has different meanings in different cultures. How we can interpret body language depends on the situation, the culture, the relationship we have with the person as well as the gender of the other. This means that there is not one signal that has the same meaning all over the world. If you do not take this into account you may get yourself in some serious trouble! Body language is also interlinked with spoken language and a whole pattern of behaviour from a person. As well as that, various body language signs can complement each other to make a particular meaning crystal clear or strengthen the meaning of what we communicate. Some groups have developed a whole specific body language which can be very explicit in its meaning and is

BODY LANGUAGE
used to communicate where the use of words may otherwise be difficult or dangerous. Examples of this are mostly groups, such as gay people, people in slavery, prisoners, etc. who have a history of prejudice against them from the dominant culture.

Used to express feelings


Body language is used especially to express feelings. For instance if we do not like someone, it is often difficult to say that directly to the person. However we can make it clear either intentionally or unintentionally through body language. The opposite is also true. We may say that we ARE angry through words yet our body language may be saying loud and clear that we are NOT. This can be very confusing for the receiver. This is usually described as giving out double messages - one message in words and an opposite message in body language. It is also difficult to lie or cover up our feelings through body language. People may give their true feelings away by not being aware of their body language. Research has shown that most people pay more attention to, and believe more readily, their impression of how a person acts through body language than what is said through words. As a consequence we tend to doubt, or put a question mark behind, the spoken words if they do not correspond with the language of the body .

The importance of knowing how we communicate


How we come across to someone is decided only for a small part by the words we speak. To leave a good impression behind, say at a job interview, it is important that we know, and to a certain extent can control, our body language. The person on the receiving end of our body language will have a feeling or impression that is often difficult to describe - difficult to put into words or difficult to prove what actually was communicated. Haven't we all said at times: 'I have a feeling he/she likes me', or something like: 'I doubt if what 6

BODY LANGUAGE
he/she is saying is really the truth'. This type of feeling is called intuition. Body language plays a big role in intuition as it gives us messages about the other person that we can interpret at an intuitive level. It is therefore necessary to get to know our own body language first. We should learn about it so that we can recognise it in others as well as in ourselves. For this purpose, all the different aspects of body language that we can learn something from will be described next.

Interpretation of body language


In our daily lives we encounter many forms of body language gestures, these are a few examples. Although these signs are not immediate signals of a person's feeling or implications, the following are traditional signs for certain implications A} Basic

Types of Body Language Postures


Forward/ Back

Open / Closed
People with arms folded and legs crossed and bodies turned away are signaling that they are rejecting messages. People showing open hands, fully facing you and

When people are leaning forward and pointing towards you they are actively accepting or rejecting the message. When they are leaning back, looking up at the

both feet planted on the ground are accepting ceiling, doodling on a pad, cleaning their glasses they are either passively absorbing or them. People with arms folded and legs crossed and bodies turned away are signaling ignoring it. that they are rejecting messages. People showing open hands, fully facing you and both feet planted on the ground are accepting them. 7

BODY LANGUAGE

Body language consits of:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Facial expression(s) Eyes Lips Arms Hands Fingers

1) The Face
8

BODY LANGUAGE
The face is an important source of information. Since the face cannot be easily hidden, it is an important source of nonverbal information and communicates a variety of emotions. In addition, eye contact, pupil size, and the smile provide additional cues to informed observers.

Facial Expressions
What is the impression you wish to convey? Do you smile at others? Always smiling, never smile, sometimes.

Types of Facial Expressions

Forehead Wrinkles Anger Eyebrows Anger Nose Contempt

Eyes
Centered Gazing up Gazing Down Gaze on the side Focused Thinking Shame Guilty

BODY LANGUAGE
Wandering Disinterested or Bored

Lips
Parted Together Wide Open Relaxed, Happy Possibly Concerned Very Happy / VeryAngry

Arms
Arms Crossed Open Angry, Disapproving Honest, Accepting

Hands
On Top of the Head Scratching Head Rubbing Eyes Rubbing Chin folded Amazement Puzzled , Confused Tired Thinking,Timid, Shy

Fingers
Fingers Interlocked Pointing at you OK Signal Tense Angry Fine

10

BODY LANGUAGE
V Sign Peace

Interpretation Body Language


1) Responsive

Engaged (leaning forward) Open Body Open Arms Open Hands Eager Open Legs Feet under Chair On Toes Leaning Forward Ready to agree (Closing Papers) Pen Down Hands Flat on Table

2)

Reflective

11

BODY LANGUAGE

Listening with head tilted Lots of Eye Contact Nodding High Blink Rate Evaluavating : sucking glasses / pencil Stroking Chin Looking Up and Right Legs crossed in 4 pos. Ankle on Knee Attentive Arms behind Back Smile Open Feet

3)Fugitive

12

BODY LANGUAGE

Bored staring into space Slumped Posture Doodling Foot Tapping Let me go feet towards door Looking Around Buttoning Jacket Rejection sitting/moving back Arms Folded Legs Crossed in 11 position Thigh on Knee Head Down Frown

13

BODY LANGUAGE

4) Combative

Let me speak finger tapping Foot Tapping Staring Aggressive leaning forwards Finger Pointing Fists Clenched Hands on Hips Frown

14

BODY LANGUAGE

Improving your Body language


Improving your body language can make a big difference in your people skills, attractiveness and general mood. There is no specific advice on how to use your body language. What you do might be interpreted in several ways, depending on the setting and who you are talking to. Youll probably want to use your body language differently when talking to your boss compared to when you talk to a girl/guy youre interested in. These are some common interpretations of body language and often more effective ways to communicate with your body. You might want to practice in front of a mirror. Yeah, it might seem silly but no one is watching you. This will give you good feedback on how you look to other people and give you an opportunity to practise a bit before going out into the world.Another tip is to close your eyes and visualize how you would stand and sit to feel confident, open and relaxed or whatever you want to communicate. See yourself move like that version of yourself. Then try it out. You might also want observe friends, role models, movie stars or other people you think has good body language. Observe what they do and you dont. Take bits and pieces you like from different people. Try using what you can learn from them. Some of these tips might seem like you are faking something. But fake it til you make it is a useful way to learn something new. And remember, feelings work backwards too. If you smile a bit more you will feel happier. If you sit up straight you will feel more energetic and in control. If you slow down your movements youll feel calmer. Your feelings will actually reinforce your new behaviours and feelings of weirdness will dissipate.

15

BODY LANGUAGE
In the beginning easy its to exaggerate your body language. You might sit with your legs almost ridiculously far apart or sit up straight in a tense pose all the time. Thats ok. And people arent looking as much as you think, they are worrying about their own problems. Just play around a bit, practice and monitor yourself to find a comfortable balance. 1. Dont cross your arms or legs You have probably already heard you shouldnt cross your arms as it might make you seem defensive or guarded. This goes for your legs too. Keep your arms and legs open. 2. Have eye contact, but dont stare If there are several people you are talking to, give them all some eye contact to create a better connection and see if they are listening. Keeping too much eye-contact might creep people out. Giving no eye-contact might make you seem insecure. If you are not used to keeping eye-contact it might feel a little hard or scary in the beginning but keep working on it and youll get used to it. 3. Dont be afraid to take up some space Taking up space by for example sitting or standing with your legs apart a bit signals self-confidence and that you are comfortable in your own skin. 4. Relax your shoulders When you feel tense its easily winds up as tension in your shoulders. They might move up and forward a bit. Try to relax. Try to loosen up by shaking the shoulders a bit and move them back slightly. 5. Nod when they are talking nod once in a while to signal that you are listening. But dont overdo it and peck like Woody Woodpecker. 6. Lean, but not too much If you want to show that you are interested in what someone is saying, lean toward the person talking. If you want to show that youre confident in yourself and relaxed lean back a bit. But dont lean in too much or you might seem needy and desperate for some approval. Or lean back too much or you might seem arrogant and distant. 7. Smile and laugh lighten up, dont take yourself too seriously. Relax a bit, smile and laugh when someone says something funny. People will be a lot more inclined to listen to 16

BODY LANGUAGE
you if you seem to be a positive person. But dont be the first to laugh at your own jokes, it makes you seem nervous and needy. Smile when you are introduced to someone but dont keep a smile plastered on your face, youll seem insincere. 8. Dont touch your face it might make you seem nervous and can be distracting for the listeners or the people in the conversation. 9. Keep you head up - Dont keep your eyes on the ground, it might make you seem insecure and a bit lost. Keep your head up straight and your eyes towards the horizon. 10. Slow down a bit this goes for many things. Walking slower not only makes you seem more calm and confident, it will also make you feel less stressed. If someone addresses you, dont snap youre neck in their direction, turn it a bit more slowly instead. 11. Dont fidget try to avoid, phase out or transform fidgety movement and nervous ticks such as shaking your leg or tapping your fingers against the table rapidly. Youll seem nervous and fidgeting can be a distracting when you try to get something across. Declutter your movements if you are all over the place. Try to relax, slow down and focus your movements. 12. Use your hands more confidently instead of fidgeting with your hands and scratching your face use them to communicate what you are trying to say. Use your hands to describe something or to add weight to a point you are trying to make. But dont use them to much or it might become distracting. And dont let your hands flail around, use them with some control. 13. Lower your drink dont hold your drink in front of your chest. In fact, dont hold anything in front of your heart as it will make you seem guarded and distant. Lower it and hold it. 14. Dont stand too close one of the things we learned from Seinfeld is that everybody gets weirded out by a close-talker. Let people have their personal space, dont invade it.

17

BODY LANGUAGE
15. Mirror - Often when you get along with a person, when the two of you get a good connection, you will start to mirror each other unconsciously. That means that you mirror the other persons body language a bit. To make the connection better you can try a bit of proactive mirroring. If he leans forward, you might lean forward. If she holds her hands on her thighs, you might do the same. But dont react instantly and dont mirror every change in body language. Then weirdness will ensue. 16. Keep a good attitude last but not least, keep a positive, open and relaxed attitude. How you feel will come through in your body language and can make a major difference.

Conclusion
Gesture interpretation is, however, not meant to infer your intrinsic nature or personality. It should be used only to understand the behavior, feelings or emotions of a person at a particular time. Also, gestures vary from culture to culture and may differ considerably. Gestures should be read in clusters of signals being received from various parts of the body. Understanding the unsaid has helped many to avoid making many mistakes, some serious, in both my professional and personal life. So if you want to know more about what people around you are really thinking, get ready to listen ...with your eyes.

18