All around the world, there are thousands of languages.
One of them and probably the most important of them is body language.
- 1 WHAT’S BODY LANGUAGE?
- 2 DIFFERENCE IN CULTURES
- 3 CONCLUSION
WHAT’S BODY LANGUAGE?
Body language is the means of communication with other people through how we position our body or gestures we make.
But how often do you pay attention to body language?
In your daily interactions, it’s vital to pay attention to your body language and that of other people you interact with.
Because many times, body language speaks the truth far better than tongues can.
And many times, people say opposite of what they mean.
Having knowledge of body language can help you identify when things may be different from the words you’re hearing. And people can get your messages better with body language.
How important is body language? From Professor Mehrabian’s study in the 1960s, there was a claim that 93% of human communication is nonverbal.
Even though other experts have refuted that value as an exaggeration and a misunderstanding of the results of the study, they put the value at about 60 to 70% of human communication.
Whatever way you look at it, body language usually plays a bigger role than the words you say. The beauty, or the catastrophe, is that body language affects many things you do in life.
Without overstating it, body language could determine your success in some critical aspects of your life.
Two big aspects that come to mind is your career and personal relationships.
A question that may have bothered you for a long time is: why do two people say the same things and get totally different results?
How do some people manage to convince everyone at work of their ideas? How do some people attract the opposite sex without trying or saying special words?
The answer could be the difference in body language. In this guide, we’ll go through some things your body language says about you to other people.
1. Crossed Arms Around the Chest
You probably see people crossing their arms around their chest every day. But what does this mean in your daily conversations?
There are many possible explanations for this body language. The most common reason for this gesture is that the other party is closed off about the topic you’re discussing.
Let’s say you’re having a discussion with a coworker and they maintain this pose, it usually means they’re uninterested in what you’re saying.
Of course, this could be for many reasons. Maybe they’re angry with you personally or you’re bothering them too much. Or your idea is bland.
This posture, combined with other signals, can show more accurately the message the other party is trying to send to you.
When you have this posture too, this is what you’re telling people even without opening your mouth.
Another aspect when this passes a message is in personal relationships — especially in dating or parents relating to their children.
What does this posture mean in dating? At the beginning of a potential relationship, this could be that the other party is not interested.
For instance, when a lady crosses her arms across her chest when meeting a guy for the first time, it could be that she’s uninterested in what the guy has to say.
Most likely, she’s probably not looking forward to meeting the guy again. If this occurs between two people who are already dating, it could be that someone is angry at their partner for a reason.
This can often happen between parents and children. When a child maintains this pose while their parent is talking, then they’re usually not in agreement with their parent.
In some cases, it could be a sign of rebellion and willingness to disobey their parent. A parent can see this sign and know that their message is not getting through.
Generally, when you notice this posture, then you should consider what could attract this posture and try to make the necessary amendments.
If you maintain this pose, you should open your arms to make you look open and accessible to the person talking to you.
Of course, there are exceptions to what I’ve stated.
Sometimes, this posture could be maintained jokingly. In cases like this, it’s usually evident to both parties and there’s no worry.
2. Eye Contact
As some would say, the eye is the window of the soul.
Through the eye, you can see through someone and get a lot of knowledge about what they’re trying to communicate to you.
Some possible gestures made with the eyes include:
a. Avoiding Eye Contact
When you’re talking to someone but they seem to look at every other thing apart from your eyes, what does it mean? There are common reasons for this.
Usually, in dating, this could be because someone is uninterested in the other person.
For instance, a lady who seems to never look at a guy’s eyes could be telling her indirectly she has no interest in dating.
However, this is not cast in stone. Some ladies will do this when they’re just getting to know someone and most of these body languages don’t work in isolation.
In fact, some ladies will avert their eyes because they’re shy. Or maybe they don’t want a man to see through them.
Between parents and children, eye contact starts from the time a child is born. What happens when a child avoids their parent’s eye?
It could be for many reasons.
Sometimes, it could be because the child is shy.
But most times, it’s because the child is lying or trying to hide something from the parent. In this case, the parent can probe the child to get to the bottom of the issue.
When you avert your eyes from people, this could be the message you’re passing across to them. You should be aware of this to avoid sending the wrong messages.
b. Making Eye Contact
People pass many messages through eye contact. And it’s no surprise that some people communicate with themselves through eye contact — without a spoken word.
What does eye contact tell people about you? A lot, actually!
Sometimes, eye contact is a way to show your interest in another person romantically. It’s also a way of flirting.
A deep gaze into another person’s eyes could build the connection between you and the person. Even between people who are in a relationship, eye contact is an important means of communication.
At work, strong eye contact with your colleagues could make you more assertive. It could also help you to put your points across effectively.
When you maintain eye contact with your colleagues, it gives the impression that you’re really listening. So you should try to maintain eye contacts with your colleagues at work.
Eye contact with your child could also help you build a strong connection with your child.
c. Rolling Eyes
In most cases, this is usually meant as an insult. It’s common when there’s a conflict between two people.
If you roll your eyes at people, it’s likely they’ll see it as an insult. In some cases though, it might be a way to joke around if done in a friendly context.
d. Dilation or Contraction of the Pupil
This can occur as a result of two main things:
- The amount of light available
- A person’s desire for another person
Generally, the pupil contracts in the afternoon as there is a high level of light in the afternoon. And pupils dilate in the evening due to low light.
In another sense, your pupil will dilate when you feel attracted to someone. In most cases, dilation of the pupil is unconscious.
A good effect is that it usually prompts dilation of the pupil in the person you’re having eye contact with.
This is one of the reasons dinners with candle lights are so romantic.
The low amount of light from the candles will prompt dilated pupils from the two people having dinner.
This can be a way for you to show more attraction to your partner.
3. Touching Your Face and Hair
When you’re attracted to someone, your skin will usually be more sensitive; especially around your face. It’s possible you touch your mouth or lips.
It’s common for ladies to also touch their necks and hair when they’re attracted to a man.
These reactions are usually caused by more flow of blood to the face when you’re attracted to someone.
Another part you can touch unconsciously is your neck. In many cases, people touch their neck when they feel threatened by a particular situation.
For instance, if you usually touch your neck before answering a particular question.
This could be a threatening question and people usually lie when they answer the question while touching their neck.
Another function of touching the neck can be to relieve stress.
In stressful situations, people touch their neck to slow their heart rate and lead to a calming effect.
Likewise, people touch their neck with their hands or shoulder when they lack confidence or are nervous in a situation.
You should try to avoid touching your necks as much as possible to avoid giving off these signs.
A smile is a facial expression that shows happiness about an issue or with an individual. When people see a smile on your face, it attracts a positive reaction from them.
However, it’s important to note that not every smile is real. Some smiles are fake and just meant to be polite.
Experts believe that one way to identify a real smile is that it engages the muscles in the face whereas a fake smile is usually just evident in the mouth.
For instance, people will likely see a wrinkle around your eyes when you have a real smile on your face.
A real smile can be contagious.
Have you laughed before because people around you were laughing? Even when you’re unaware of why they’re laughing?
A smile can transmit happiness to another person and they see you as less dangerous.
Regardless of whether you have a fake or real smile on your face, it’s a way to make other people smile.
Therefore, conversations become easier and you can build better bonds in your personal and business relationships.
This is a gesture that is common in formal settings. And how you shake hands with people may define how they see you.
Do you have a weak handshake?
This could make people see you as weak and lacking in confidence. On the other hand, having a firm handshake makes you look strong and confident to other people.
At workplaces, it’s important that people view you as strong. This is especially important during negotiations as it sets the tone.
If you go on with the other party seeing you as weak, then you may not get the best out of the negotiation.
Other tips you need to keep in mind while having handshakes is to look at somebody in the eye while shaking their hands.
Added to that, you should stand straight and make your body open to the person you’re shaking.
All these give you a more confident look when meeting people. It can also create a good first impression if you’re meeting someone for the first time.
If you want to see examples of how handshakes should be done, you can look at CEOs of companies when they meet other people.
You can also look at the presidents of countries. For instance, you can look at Barrack Obama when shaking hands with other leaders.
You can also look at Donald Trump while shaking hands. These are handshakes that show power and is aimed at making you look strong to the other party.
The concept of personal space explains a bit about proximity.
For instance, there’s common advice that you should be mindful of invading people’s personal space unless you’re in a romantic relationship or have family ties.
Nevertheless, getting close to people is not only useful in personal relationships. It can also help you to improve your connection to colleagues at work.
Daily, you interact with coworkers and often build friendships with them. Staying aloof all the time to a coworker might look weird after a period of time.
Sure, when you first start getting to know a coworker, you can maintain your distance.
But as you get to know each other, you should maintain close proximity so far the coworker doesn’t have issues with it.
This will show other people your confidence and you’re also likely to have better collaborations with such workers.
A huge portion of attracting other people is body language.
And one important body language you can implement is to mirror what people do.
It’s an old psychological trick. But that doesn’t make it less effective.
People are generally more receptive to other people who are like them. And this is one of the main aims of mirroring.
When you mirror an individual’s posture, they see you as similar to them and they’ll like you more for that.
This is important when trying to build a relationship with another person, whether personal or business.
In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini explains this concept more. If you’re trying to make someone like you, one strategy you should implement is mirroring.
Its benefit in personal relationships is that your potential partner can see you as a likable person. And thus, get more interested in you.
And for business, salespeople do this as it helps them connect better with their potential customers. Likewise, you can use it to build better relationships with coworkers.
8. Hand and Arm Gestures
Talking to people without making gestures can make you look robotic. Therefore, to make you more convincing, you should show hand and arm gestures.
Without adding substance to what you say, it helps you to get your points across effectively. Apart from making hand and arm gestures while talking, there are other gestures that reveal your mood to another person.
When you have your hands clenched, people can see this as a sign of frustration. — especially if your clenched hands are raised high.
Another gesture you can make is that of a steepling hand. This could be the raised or lowered steeple. When you use this gesture, it shows confidence.
You can use either the raised or the lowered steepled hands. The raised steeple is advisable when you’re talking to someone and the lowered for when you’re listening to someone.
Also, gripping your hands behind your back can make you look confident to people. One popular set of people who do this are headmasters when they go through their school.
DIFFERENCE IN CULTURES
Having talked about many body language gestures, you have to note that there’s no hard rule about what a gesture means.
First of all, people have to look at the context in which you show body language.
Then the way people see your body language will also depend on your location and its culture.
For instance, in some parts of the United States, people hug freely and are less protective of their personal space.
However, it’s a different story in some other parts. When you consider this, people will see proximity differently in these areas. Thus, the interpretation of your body language will be different.
Body language is a vital part of our daily lives.
The interesting thing is that some of these actions are unconscious. You need to bring your body language to your consciousness and ensure that you’re not sending the wrong message to people.
Check out all these body language gestures and use them to build the right personal and work relationships.