“Dude, she’s so into me.” “No, she isn’t.” “She totally is.” “How would you know?” “It was her body language!”
This may sound both familiar and absurd, but chances are you have also deciphered somebody’s “body language” before to understand what they left unsaid. It could be a father’s grim expression when his daughter is home after 10PM. It could be your boss’s fierce eyes before he blasts you on a Monday morning. It could be your best friend’s slumpy shoulders when he’s losing faith in his relationship. Body language is, and has been around for way longer than you realize! Consider this! Body language precedes verbal communication; it’s millions of years older than language! Social scientists have not spent an eternity doing wasteful research.
Body Language: Art, Science or Gimmick?
Body Language is technically known as ‘kinesics’. It encompasses nonverbal communication; often unconsciously expressed by humans by means of their “varying facial expressions, gestures, touch, use of space, body posture”, among others.
Needless to say, body language can be difficult to interpret as the outcome depends on the one interpreting it! Various indicators of body language can be bewildering if you start believing it is rocket science and requires degrees to understand!
It is a continuous process but unlike language follows no particular ‘structure’ by the book. Various impulses are understood differently in different countries as influenced by cultural context, but the main emotions are often common- joy, anger, sadness, anxiety, terror et al.
Why do I trust reading body language than taking words at face value? It’s because your words could be untrue but body language barely ever lies (unless of course, you’re an actor or…a con artist).
Learn How to Interpret Body Language
Although you don’t realize it, you’re constantly interpreting the mannerisms of those around you while you converse or simply go through the day. We can make so many inferences from just noticing people’s body language, here are some basic differentiators:
- How you position your body
- Your closeness/distance between people
- Your facial expressions
- How your eyes move around; even how your pupils dilate or otherwise
- Your interaction with people through touch
- Your breathing and even perspiration!
Sometimes your speech rate and how fast you’re moving or talking can express your attitude towards a person or conversation.
Body Language Hacks To Practice
People can use body language to know how you feel and what you mean. Often, we are not aware of small changes in our posture and tiniest of changes in our facial expressions during a conversation. But some hacks can lead to self awareness, control and overall positive change in how we are perceived by people.
To appear to be a more confident person, remember the following!
- Use The Power Position– Stand with your feet apart and hands on your hips. This position, researched at Harvard Business School, helps increase in testosterone, aids risk taking and raises self belief! Try it today!
- Don’t Let Your Face Spill– It can be harmful when micro-expressions show up on your face. Try to maintain honesty. If you are required to wear a mask in a social or work setting, make a special effort to be consistent.
- Don’t Slump Your Shoulders – Kill that slouch! Looks like you’re curling up into a ball of discontentment and are highly unsure of yourself.
- Shaking Your Legs While Seated– This gesture is a major put off and totally unprofessional, projects nervousness.
- Keep Your Chin Up While You Walk– Expresses confidence and willingness to talk to people.
- Never, Ever Put Your Hands In Your Pocket– it expresses insecurity about ourselves. Try placing your hands on your hips instead.
- Know When Not To Fold Your Arms-Crossing your arms can indicate you being defensive or reluctant by creating a “barrier”.
- Thumbs Touching Each Other on Opposite Hands– ‘steepling’ indicates deep, profound thinking and is a sign of confidence of thought.
- Handshake Equal And Vertical– This is the most relaxed, non threatening and honest way to shake hands! It is ideal as it does not show dominance and makes it feel like a trustworthy exchange.
Remember body Language is relevant to every aspect of our lives; from business to management and leadership, and to relationships in families and among friends.