What is Body Language?
Any communication involving the use of body movements is called body language. Here message transmission takes place through non-verbal acts.
Do you know our body language conveys messages silently? These messages are more powerful than spoken words and language. The messages can be about personal feelings, attitudes, emotions, thoughts and many more.
A person can read and decode these messages through body movements, styles, walking styles, gestures, postures, distance, facial expressions and so forth. Body Language is called Kinesics.
Kinesics studies how bodily movements and gestures act as non-verbal communication. It is an indispensable part of our communication. During face-to-face communication, 55% of the time receiver observes the sender’s message through bodily movements. In fact, it is generally said that body movement has a certain message and our movements are not accidental.
Do you know that our body knowingly or unknowingly sends messages, moods, feelings, etc and in a similar fashion as a language uses various symbols for conveying the message? In fact, it sends messages even when it is not in motion.
Table of Contents
- How to use Body Language Effectively?
- Wrap Up
Types of Body Language
Our face reflects whatever our mind thinks, so it is like a mirror. It is the most photographed part of our body. It transmits positive or negative signals to the person with whom we communicate. Our face is divided into four parts:
- Upper face: Eyebrows and forehead
- Middle face: Eyes, eyelids and foot of nose.
- Lower face: Mouth and chin
- Sides of the face: Cheeks
Facial Expressions express happiness, grief, sadness, surprise, boredom, fear, sleepiness etc.
The movement of the hand or head for expressing any idea is the gesture. It is used for the purpose of transmitting messages or specific information. These gestures may be conscious or involuntary. You might be aware of several universal gestures, like a ‘nodding of the head’ indicates ‘yes’ whereas ‘patting on the back’ means ‘praising or appreciating’ someone. In the same way, ‘foot tapping’ and ‘nail biting’ indicates nervousness.
Posture implies the position of the body which conveys messages to the receiver. In simple terms it is the position in which a person holds their body at the time of sitting, standing or walking. It reveals a lot about a person’s personality. that means you can easily guess if a person is a sportsperson, dancer, politician or celebrity, just by looking at their body posture. It covers three things:
- Angle of inclination
- Position of arms and legs
For instance: How much area a person covers, while standing or sitting, determines his confidence and dominance. Similarly, there are postures such as looking down, slouching shoulders, bending head and so on which indicate, nervousness and insecurity.
We always judge people by their appearance, i.e. if they are poor or rich, urban or rural, modern or traditional, male or female, country of origin, etc. To be precise, clothes have a lot to say about a person’s personality. And you should note that it is very important to look clean, lean and professional.
Additionally, accessories that you carry also play a major role. Here, accessories include shoes, a bag, a watch, etc. The first thing that people notice about you is your shoes. If your shoes are untidy, it shows how unorganized you are.
The eyes are a very important part of our body. It shows emotions and feelings. It speaks with truthfulness. Eye contact indicates if the communication is open.
While a long and continuous eye contact shows interest in the speaker, if the receiver is avoiding eye contact it reflects that the receiver is not ready for any kind of communication. When we seek someone’s reaction on any issue, matter or news, we generally look into the person’s eyes, you know why, because they never lie.
A few insights about eye contact are:
- The frank gaze of a looker indicates a positive attitude towards the other person.
- Continuous and frequent eye contact is a symbol of friendship, love and intimacy.
- Eye contact shows honesty, confidence, openness, and interest.
- Nervous people often avoid eye contact. Further, those who seldom make eye contact are perceived as dishonest and deceiving.
- Those who seek eye contact sound more reliable, trustworthy and earnest.
- A constant gaze and staring at someone is interpreted as an invitation for interaction.
- Averting the looker’s eyes is perceived as the rejection of the looker’s invite for interaction.
Silence is more powerful than words, it says a lot. It not just indicates the relationship which the parties to the communication have with each other. It also defines their attitude. For example: A child who has committed a mistake, will stay silent if his mother asks him about it.
How to use Body Language Effectively?
- If you are standing, you should keep your shoulder erect, with your body open and weight evenly distributed on both feet.
- To look confident we must sit squarely in a chair and feet on the floor with shoulders straight. Please note, crossed legs often give the impression of disinterest.
- Always give a firm handshake. It is very important in the business world. This is because it gives a message about dominance, status, and nervousness.
- Avoid touching your face every now and then, as it looks like you are nervous.
- Maintain good eye contact, at least for a few seconds, it indicates that you are interested and open for communication.
Above all, Body Language always complements spoken communication. It is more trustworthy and reliable. Further, it speaks what is not spoken in words. It is the reflection of our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes and so it is guided by our thought process.