Body Language Its Effect On Communication English Language Essay

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Language consists of verbal-language and nonverbal-language. Nonverbal-language, which is called body-language, plays an important role in delivering message when people communicate with other. A research show than in total impact of a message, 7 per cent comes from verbal, 38 percent comes from vocal, and the rest comes from non-verbal (55%). Moreover, the largest sector of a face-to-face conversation, over 65 %, is done by non-verbal, while verbal consists of less than 35%. (Pease, 1981)

The effect of body-language in daily life is significant. This paper discusses the question of what body language is, what its specific effects on communication are and how to use body language effectively.

Discussion of finding:

What is body-language?

Body-language can be defined in some different ways. Wang (2009, p154) augured that body language which, or nonverbal communication, "involves all those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting", which are "generated by both the source and his or her use of the environment" and "that have potential message value for the source or receiver." On other words, Pease (1981) points out in one hand "the verbal channel is used primarily for conveying information", in other hand, "the non-verbal channel is used for negotiating interpersonal attitudes, and in some cases is used as a substitute for verbal messages". Based on those, it can be understood that body-language is a skill of human to use behavior and different body movement to express feeling in communication.

Body-language can be divided into four main types: body behavior, space and distance, silence and signs and symbols. The meaning of each of them depends on the culture it belongs. First, body behavior can be understood is any of several changes in the physical location, place, or position of the material parts of the human form (Givens, 2002). It includes: general appearance, body movement, posture, gesture, facial expression, eyes and gaze, touch, smell, paralanguage… (Wang, 2009, pp.156). Another kind of body language is distance and space. According to a study, the space between people keep when they communicate relies on the relationship between the speakers, insists of four zones: intimate zone (1-18 feet), personal zones for close friends (1.5-4 inches), social zone (4-12 inches) and public zone (over 12 inches). The third main kind of body language is silence. "Silence is also speech", said an African. The silence can express the concerning of the communication we take part in. Last but not least, signs and symbols are "a type of nonverbal communication form which can represent verbal communication" (Wang, 2009, pp 156). Two main forms of them are: symbolic signs and symbols and notional sign and symbols.

What are the effects of body-language in communication?

As everybody knows, body language plays an important role in daily communication. According to Wang (2009), in the interpersonal communication, each aspect of body language has its special impact. Person's appearance is the first impression to other people judgment to do or not talk with a stranger. In addition, Peters (2007, pp.90) suggests that "good-looking individuals received more offers for help, earned higher salaries, and were better able to influence and change an audience's attitudes than less attractive people". Moreover, the age, class, occupation are be assessed by the way people dressing up themselves. For example, students usually wear active uniform, a successful businessman in suit with luxury watches or rings… Beside this, body movement can show special message of itself: the attitude toward other, the emotion state, the desire to control surrounding, for example, showing a low spirits by slumped poster or expressing open and interest by leaning forward… Another angle, silence results in "providing an interval in an ongoing interaction or feedback", be understood as "evidence of agreement, lack of interest, injured feelings, or contempt…" In addition, using signs and symbols not only gets rid of language barrier, but is accepted by people universally as well. As the result, symbols and signs are used on banner, traffic routes such as road sign, lamp signal… Lieberman (1998) pointed out that body language can helps us to get the truth out of anyone. In the book "Never be lied to again", he suggest some sign of deception by some body language evidence such as make little or no eye contact, limit the physical expression, try to relax and appear casual so on. Zhou and Zhang (2008, p94) argued that "positive attitudes indicated by body language may signal a sincere effort to achieve win results" in a negotiation. If a person can use body language correctly, he/she can show her positive attitudes and get sympathy from other. Okon's 'Role of Non-Verbal Communication In Education' (Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 2 (5) 2011, pp. 37) suggests that in classroom, there are a number of specific purposes of non-verbal communication such as "expressing emotions, conveying interpersonal attitudes, presenting personality, and amplifying verbal communication". He also points that "educators whose verbal and non-verbal communication patterns are congruent and reinforcing will be able to provide students with a clear sense of confidence in their actions".

Nevertheless, body language can cause misunderstanding because of its various meaning by culture. For example, the ring or "OK" gesture not only stand for "OK" or "all correct", but also in some countries is has different meanings such as "zero" or "nothing" in France, "money" in Japan,… Other example is "thumb-up" gesture. In Britan, Australia and New Zealand, it is "OK", "up yours" or "sit on this", while in Greece, its meaning is "get stuffed", … Let's imagine when a Australian and a Grecian and make this sign, what will happen? The reason of this problem is the impact of culture, "culture influences how people decode and understand the world around them- includes words and behaviors"(Peters, pp.109). As a results, it is necessary to understand our audience.

How to use body language effectively?

To make use of using body language, there are some useful tips. Firstly, you more understand body language, you can use it for your benefit more effectively. Secondly, we should dress up ourselves suit with our intelligence, age, gender approachability, financial well-being, class, taste, values and culture background from attractiveness dress, and person artifacts (Wang, 2009, pp.157).

Making eye contact also creates, indicate attraction. You should always maintain eye contact with your audience, but make sure that not fix his gaze at one person for more than 5 seconds. Too much eyes's fluctuation could addresses lack of confidence, whereas staring at a person could be daunting and hence is not such a good idea. Beside those, people should keep the distance and space on conservation, suit with specific situation. A study shows that with a closer distance (one to two feet) you can success to gain more compliance than with a further distance (four to five feet) (Peters, pp.95). However, you should also be careful about not keeping the distance too close and violating other's space. Fifth, vocalics such as the tone, pitch, vocal expressive, fluency… impacts on the attraction of the receiver on conservation and the success of the communication, so that people should sound good to other (Peters, 2007, pp.97). Another suggestion is controlling your facial expression in professional situation because it is not difficult to recognize if a person is happy, sad, anxious, irritated, or excited by observing her/his face. Last but not least, you should be careful when use body language because of the misunderstanding in different culture. Improving your knowledge is one of the most successful way to avoid it.


Body language is an important part of communication. It not only support verbal language to be understand more clearly, but have itself voice to show emotion and message as well. However the meaning of body language varies by culture, gender or age…, which result in it becoming more complex and misunderstanding. In order to use it successfully, people should interpret and improve their knowledge to avoid that problem. Appling body language into daily communication is a smart and interesting way to contact with other, let's try it and make use of it.