It has been suggested that only 7% of our communication is done through actual words; the rest is though body language and other cues and non verbal behavior. Body language is non nonverbal communication that we subconsciously internalize, and consists of facial expressions, gestures, eye movements, and body postures.
Why we use body language
Body language is an instinctive communication and understanding of a range of emotions such as amusement, embarrassment, admiration, contempt, pride, relief, a sense of pride in achievement, pleasure, shame, excitement, satisfaction, contentment and more.
Sometimes we don’t have the words to express what we feel; very often we don’t even need those words, the expression on our face says it all!
For instance how would we communicate things such as a wave, a yawn, a soft touch, a hug, or a slouch in words?
Body language can be a most honest form of communication since it is less likely to lie, even if the words coming out of a mouth may be less than truthful. For instance the words may be “So good to see you!” yet the shifty eyes, looking over the shoulder may convey the very opposite or chagrin at a chance meeting.
Some pointers for interpreting body language
- The eyes are the windows to the soul they say, and this is certainly true. A direct eye contact can indicate honesty and straightforwardness. The sidelong glance can be a sign of flirting, the arched eyebrows may indicate skepticism. The slightly unfocused glance may indicate lack of attention or even boredom.
- Then there are the lips. An open mouth or slack jaw can indicate surprise or shock. The lips can purse tightly when there is resentment or irritation that a person feels.
- Even sitting or standing can contain non-verbal cues. If you are standing while the other person sits, this can be your way to intimidate or convey a sense of urgency.
- Posture is very important. A slouching posture can indicate boredom. Bent shoulders and a curved back may be indications of trying to be self effacing or trying not to bring attention to oneself; it may even indicate a lack of self esteem.
- If the person sitting opposite from you is leaning forward he or she is not only trying to grasp what you say they are also indicating their interest in you or your words. Sitting back in your seat indicates you are in better control of the situation and the conversation.
- Fidgeting is another dead giveaway – if you’re thumbing your nose as you talk you could unconsciously and inadvertently be conveying the impression of being uncomfortable or even dishonest. It can also indicate impatience and when a person has mentally tuned out from the situation or the conversation.
Body language is a complex and fascinating subject; if you would only pay more attention to non-verbal cues, you may be amazed at what you learn.