The Secrets of Body Language

hand-1701971_1920Did you know that upon first meeting a person you form a judgment of them within the first 30 seconds? This means that first impressions are important, particularly for job interview situations. However when discussing body language it is important to recognise the person as a whole and take into account the environment and situation. There are also various types of signs such as:

  • The voice (tone, rhythm, volume)
  • Mimicry (Everything that occurs on the face)
  • The pose (posture)
  • The gestures (body language)
  • The distance (remoteness between people)
  • Social Signs (clothing and cosmetics)
  • The Skin (physical contact)
  • Automatic signs (Physiological reactions)

According to research only 7% of human communication is verbal. 93% of what we communicate with others is nonverbal. How amazing is that? Mastering the art of reading body langauge can be powerfully insightful and increase your awareness of self and others in an exponential way. Every moment you spend with others can be valuable whether thats in a business meeting, socially with freinds and family or around strangers in social functions. Every moment you spend with others can be enriching.

Before I go any further though I must explain that body lagnauge can often be complex and easily misunderstood, so please read this with an open mind bearing in mind cultural differences. For instance in the Middle East there is great cultural significance to who walks through a door first- it denotes power, status and importance to be the first through the door. This is not necessarily the case in other parts of the world. Also factor in the context of the situation. Dr. Paul Eckman studied whether there were universal expressions that crossed cultural boundaries. He found that there are 7 universal facial expressions:

  1. 1) Happiness, 2) Sadness, 3) Anger, 4) Fear, 5) Surprise, 6) Contempt, 7) Disgust. Micro-expressions come out quickly before we have time to think about them. Body language and voice tone have a large impact on how well one communicates. The higher one’s voice, the less credibility one has. Whenever there is a conflict between words and body language, believe the body language!
  2. If a person has their ankles crossed whilst sitting on a chair they may be frustrated and your arguments will not be considered on this occasion.
  3. An extrovert pose sitting with arms open stretched across two chairs and leaning back indicates a confident person who knows what they want and are ready for anything.
  4. Nail biting indicates confusion or anxiety.
  5. Clenching fists indicates latent aggression
  6. Biting on the upper or lower lip indicates a lack of control
  7. When a person puts their hand over their face when talking this indicates they may be lying or dishonest in what they are saying.
  8. Eyes moving side to side and not maintaining eye contact are also signs of dishonesty when in conversation.

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So to quote some of the sources I have researched on the topic here are a fair few pointers…

  1. Walking speed sends out messages about power. The slower the walk the more internal dialogue, as a rule of thumb, and the faster the walk the more confident the person is.
  2. A pat on the back is a way to demonstrate power.
  3. When world leaders get together, they know that the opportunity to demonstrate dominance is the “handshake photo opp.”
  4. Having the “upper hand” implies dominance. Grabbing by the elbow can show who is the leader.
  5. Hands behind the back indicate a person has nothing to hide.
  6. A self-touch gesture says, “Here we go. I can get through this.”
  7. When a person makes a definitive statement, and then retreats or backs away, it is likely that what they have just said is false.
  8. The “arm-cross” shows protection/defence.
  9. To unlock the secrets of body language, experts rely on an analytical system called “norming.” Norming analyzes body language in contrast to how a person responds normally to situations.
  10. It is believed that if people can see your eyes, they can also see your soul.
  11. One’s back is slightly hunched over when one feels threatened. Confidence causes one’s chest to stick out. Posture is important!
  12. When giving speeches, politicians wave hello to individuals. This gives the impression that they know a lot of people.
  13. Good salespeople smile. People buy products based on how they feel about the salespeople.
  14. Body language should not be considered in isolation.
  15. Gesturing on the beat as one speaks is the mark of a good speaker.
  16. Reading body language is an extremely important part of law enforcement. If you can recognize a threat, you can counteract it.
  17. Your pupils automatically dilate when you see something you like, this can be food, another person or an object you desire.
  18. A firm handshake with your hand above the other persons indicates power.
  19. Open arms indicate a confident, constructive attitude whilst crossed arms show defence and are off putting.
  20. Stand tall with your legs slighty apart to command power and respect, even if you are short you can indicate power like this and walk with purpose.

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