Body language

Your body gives away a lot more than the words you speak – about eight times more.

The body uses an unspoken language that is incapable of lying. We continually telegraph our thoughts and feelings non-verbally. Much of this takes place at an unconscious level; often the person picking up non-verbal signals is not aware of what is happening.

Body language includes:

  • Posture – the way you hold and carry your body communicates confidence and personal magnetism. Dominant people have a way of making themselves appear more formidable. They stand tall in situations they wish to control.
  • Gestures – especially the hands.
  • Facial expression – the main way we express emotion.
  • Eye movements – can indicate pleasure, curiosity, enthusiasm, agitation etc. E.g. the pupils dilate when you are interested or excited.
  • Clothing – communicates roles and status etc. A uniform says a lot about the role and status of the wearer, e.g. ‘power dressing’.
  • Touch – can convey sincerity; may be used to greet, comfort, intimidate, guide, patronise, etc.

The body is capable of transmitting over half a million signals – your face alone can make over 100,000 different expressions. A shrug of the shoulders, for instance, or a dismissive wave of the hand can say much more than words alone.

Body language also contributes to charisma. It is the main reason why some people command attention the minute they walk into a room, while others are barely noticed.

Body language is not universal; every culture has its own gestures, and ignorance of this can result in unintended offence.

When one’s words seem to be contradicted by their voice quality and non-verbal, we assume the person is lying. Because when this happens they normally are!

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.4.2016

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