Body language developed before speech. Research has shown that we actually use our bodies to pass more information than we say verbally. Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves.
Psychologist research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions-and even our own body chemistry simply by changing body positions.
Body language refers to the non-verbal signals that we use to communicate. From our facial expressions to our body movements, the things we don’t say can still convey volumes of information. Body language is thought to account for between 50 to 80 percent of all communication.
Facial expressions are among the most universal forms of body language. Think for a moment about how much a person is able to convey with just facial expression. A smile can indicate approval or happiness, while a frown can signal disapproval or unhappiness. A lot of times our facial expressions may reveal our true feelings about a particular situation. When you say you are feeling fine, the look on your face may tell people otherwise. Happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust, fear, confusion, excitement, desire and contempt can all be conveyed through facial expression.
The eyes are capable of revealing a great deal about what a person is feeling or thinking. Eye movement is a natural and important part of the communication process. When a person looks directly into your eyes while having a conversation, it indicates that they are interested and paying attention. Though, sometimes prolonged eye contact can feel threatening. On the other hand breaking eye contact and frequently looking away may indicate that the person is distracted, uncomfortable or trying to conceal his or her real feelings.
Blinking is natural, but people often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable. Infrequent blinking may indicate that a person is intentionally trying to control his or her eye movements. Example while playing a card game, people often control their blinking to appear unexcited about the hand they are dealt.
Up to 80 percent of what we communicate is non-verbal. That means every gesture, look, mouth twitch, eyebrow raise, even the way we stand, send a message.
We relate to people in three ways: – Verbally (with words), vocally (tone of voice) and visually (body language). If there is inconsistency between verbal, vocal and visual our words give off the least information. Our facial expressions play the greatest role. The tricky part is noticing them. Some expressions flash by so fast that they barely have time to register. But if you keep an eye out, over time, you can start to catch some of these blink-and-you-miss it moments.
To pick up on telltale facial expressions takes a lot of practice. The most of our non-verbal information comes from the “mouth”. Twitching of the lips, smile and the mouth dropping open, show different emotions such as contempt or surprise or fear.
While the face reveals key clues the body tells the rest of the story. Body language goes both ways. Your own body reveals your feelings and meanings to others and other peoples’ body language reveals their feelings and meanings to you. The sending and revealing of body language signals happen on conscious and unconscious levels.
Body language is very relevant to management and leadership and to all aspects of work and business where communications can be seen and physically observed among people. Our choice of color, clothing, hairstyle and other factors affecting appearance are also considered a means of non-verbal communication. Different colors evoke different moods. Appearance alters physiological reactions, judgments’ and interpretations. Just think of all the subtle judgments’ you quickly make about someone based on his or her appearance. These first impressions are important, which is why experts suggest that job seekers dress appropriately for interviews with potential employers.
Body language should not be used alone for making serious decisions about people. It is just one of the indicators of mood meaning and motive and can be the cause of much confusion and miscommunication.