Leticia Keith Leticia Keith

What does body language say about us?

16 September 2022
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Body language refers to non-verbal communication, that is, conveying emotions and moods through gestures, facial expressions, gaze, body posture and movement, rather than words. Knowing what our interlocutor’s body language really shows us allows us to read their true intentions and attitudes toward us.

We communicate verbally and nonverbally every day. Certainly, many of us say that without words it is difficult to convey anything, meanwhile, in the communication process, body language can account for as much as 55% of the message, voice power, pitch and sound – 38%, and words only 7%. Of course, what we say and how we say it is of great importance, but it is the nonverbal messages that, on the one hand, reinforce the message, and on the other hand, inform about the current psychophysical state of the interlocutor, his attitude and character.

The basic elements of nonverbal communication include:

  • gestures,
  • facial expressions (face),
  • eye contact,
  • body posture,
  • smell,
  • appearance,
  • touch,
  • communication distance (distance from the interlocutor).

When interpreting body language, we should not focus on individual gestures. We need to look holistically at the interlocutor’s posture in order to properly read what is behind his words.

How to read body language?

Face

We can distinguish six basic emotions that we often notice both in ourselves and others: joy, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, anger. These types of emotions are easy to read because they are difficult to hide. The face is also characterized by rich facial expressions. During a conversation, watch the other person’s eyes. If she looks nervously to the sides, she is probably lying or distracted. On the other hand, if she directs her gaze to one side or looks at a certain point, she is distrustful and suspicious of the interlocutor. Shy or frightened people have a habit of lowering their gaze.

The interlocutor’s mouth can also tell us a lot, and we don’t mean words at all. A half-smile distinguishes people who want to outsmart someone or camouflage a lie. Some people also cover their face with a half-smile in moments of nervousness. A smile with closed lips is considered a sign of submissiveness, while a slight smile combined with direct eye contact and a slow averting of the eyes means seduction.

Arms and hands

Signals from gestures made with the hands and arms often seem difficult to interpret. Let’s take a look at some hand and arm positions.

Hands placed on the neck, hips, or back signify confidence and a desire to dominate. Submission and tension will be manifested by covering the face with the hands, rubbing the neck and clenching the fingers.

Crossed arms, clenched fists, finger pointing or clenching hands on the table top may express anger and disagreement with something. On the other hand, playing with various objects, drumming one’s fingers on the table, tapping one’s foot and rearranging papers usually signify boredom and lack of interest.

Legs and feet

According to body language researchers, we are less in control of the movements of those parts of the body that are further away from the brain. We can usually read facial expressions, but we don’t always notice that the movement and positioning of the legs can also be a reaction to a situation.

Uncrossed legs express openness, but also a dominant posture. Crossed legs, on the other hand, indicate closure or uncertainty. Waving and moving the foot quickly signal that someone wants to escape from what they are experiencing at the moment.

main photo: pixabay.com/HuyNgan

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