Most of how we communicate is not said with words, it is said with our body language. It is said only 20% of our communication is verbal the remaining 80% non verbal. A lot of the time we use our body language to communicate information to others without saying a word, flirting for instance, we let a man or women know we are interested in them well before they approach us to communicate.
Anybody who as a good understanding of body language as an advantage over others, whether it be in business or their personnel life. Everyone's posture and movements automatically signal how they feel moment to moment. Body cues reveal more about how a person feels than their words do. Their words can be lacking, biased or lies, but their unconscious movements, gestures and face expressions never lie.
What is a body language?
These days everybody talks about body language - performance experts, life coaches, gossip columnists and dating gurus.
But do you know what body language is?
The dictionary gives this definition to 'body language': "The gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which a person manifests various physical, mental, or emotional states and communicates nonverbally with others."
I have been interested in body language for years, and after reading a few of resources, all you need to know can be summarized in 4 simple points:
1. Body Language Is A Form Of Communication
Whether you realize it or not, your body sends unmistakable signals to people around you. You DO communicate VOLUMES of information about yourself with your posture, facial expression and position of your arms and legs. You do it ALL THE TIME.
In other words, before you even open your mouth, the people around you have already formed a certain opinion about you - and as you know, first impressions last.
Body language accounts for 55% of your communication with the people you actually talk to (and nearly 100% of your communication with the people you don't know yet). The other 45% of your interactive communication is the VOICE TONE and ACTUAL WORDS. The words themselves account for only 7% of your communication.
All in all, your body language and the tone of your voice make up a whopping 93% of your communication with other people!
This means that HOW you say it is 13 times MORE important than WHAT you say.
Most people are spending all their time thinking of WHAT to say. While they could have learned only once HOW to say it - and say nearly anything with grandiose success.
What to know how?
2. There Is OPEN Body Language and CLOSED Body Language
The definitions are transparent: 'open' body language makes you look like an open, accepting and friendly person, and 'closed' body language makes you look reserved, distant and unwelcoming.
When you want people to be attracted to you, use open body language. When you want people to go away, use closed body language.
It's THAT simple.
3. OPEN Body Language Means NO Crossing, Covering or Hiding
Open body language is easy to master: look them in the eyes, don't cross your arms or legs, don't cover your body, and don't hide your palms and eyes.
This is not too complicated, is it?
Let me break it down into pieces for you:
- LOOK THEM IN THE EYES: maintain eye contact at all times during your conversation.
Looking people in the eyes is the most important part of the open body language. It has been scientifically proven that long gazes evoke the release of the same hormones that are produced when we are in love - they will feel attracted to you and won't even know why.
- KEEP YOUR PALMS OPEN: Keep your hands on the sides of your body; don't hide your hands in your pockets and don't sit on them.
Don't fold your arms or clench your fists. Don't cover your body with your arms. Don't grab a drink or handbag with both hands. Don't touch your face, ears or neck - this shows insecurity and anxiety.
If you have to hold something in your hands, hold it with ONE hand only and keep it to the side, so your arm doesn't cover your body. If the conversation is going to be longer than a couple of replications, put down anything you hold. Get a shoulder bag to keep your hands free at all times.
- KEEP YOUR LEGS UNCROSSED: Don't cross your legs on any level. Keep them apart.
- TURN YOUR BODY TOWARDS THEM: Turn your whole body to face them. Point your feet towards them; turn your torso face-to-face, so the angle between you and them is minimal.
- STAND TALL: You appear more confident and assured when you do.
- REMOVE BARRIERS BETWEEN YOU AND THEM: Don't put chairs, or glasses, or anything else between you and the person you are talking to. Keep it open.
- SMILE EASILY: There is a world of difference between smiling easily and smiling all the time.
Smiling all the time means you are feeling tense and trying to cover it up. Smiling easily means you feel comfortable and can open up into smile any time you want.
If you tend to smile all the time when meeting strangers, try deliberately NOT TO smile. Look them in the eyes, and keep a friendly, tall, and open posture - but DON'T SMILE. When you master that, start smiling after a minute or two in your conversation.
Start practicing open body language with shop assistants and bank tellers: they are PAID to be nice to you. Notice what a difference it has on your communication.
4. CLOSED Body Language Means Crossing, Covering or Hiding
Sometimes you don't want to attract certain people; this is what you need to do in such cases:
- Don't look them in the eyes;
- Fold your arms or hide your hands in the pockets;
- Turn your body away from them;
- Cross your legs and point your feet away from them;
- Put barriers between you and them;
- Frown, or smile all the time a strained smile.
This will make them feel uncomfortable and they will try to avoid you.
You see, body language is not complicated at all.
In any social situation, you can see how the people around you feel. Most of them will display 'closed' body language - and you know what it means: they feel uncomfortable and apprehensive.
Which means that if you display the 'open' body language, you will be irresistibly attractive. They won't know why but feel drawn to you. People usually describe it as, "You have something special about you", or "a presence".
If you start consciously to 'open' yourself to other people, you will notice the change in your communication almost immediately. Open body language makes you appear more approachable and trustworthy. It will also make you feel more comfortable and relaxed in any situation.
Remember, your body language tells MORE about you than your words. Use it to your advantage!
he importance of body language
People can not live without each other, we are social beings. As soon as we are in contact with others we are communicating. For this we can make use of spoken and written language. In these ways we make the content of a message clear to each other. However we can also communicate without words. This kind of communication tells us something about the relationship between people. Often this is more important than getting the content of the message across. The communication about this non spoken communication, which tells us something about the relationship between people, is called Meta-Communication. Communicating about communication!
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.
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 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. on
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 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.
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