using body language

The way we are really feeling comes through more from our body language than any words we can think of. If we intently watch people when they are talking or interacting with one another we will begin to see the subtle nuances of who these people actually are.

Body language can be broken down into three general categories:

1) Whole Body Movement

2) Gestures

3)Facial Expressions

WHOLE BODY MOVEMENT encompasses how we position ourselves in certain situations. Some people stand with their shoulders slouched. This is a sign of low confidence. Often you will see this in people who are fairly tall. The other stance that is seen quite often are the folks who have a guarded stance. They stand defensively in a manner that is meant to keep people from approaching them. It is not unusual for most people to be totally unaware that they are being unapproachable. The solution is to vary the position you are in. This sends a signal that you are open and welcome to having conversations with different people.

GESTURES can be made with any part of our body. Though they are for the most part done with our hands and arms. Nervousness is displayed by fidgeting. Usually people will “play” with a piece of jewelry such as a necklace or a watch. There are three types of gestures;

EMOTIONAL GESTURES express feelings. These can include shrugging shoulders to show indifference or a clenched fist to convey anger. We can also use our hands to project determination.

DESCRIPTIVE GESTURES are used to describe the ideas we are trying to communicate. Whether we are holding our hands apart to show distance or using our hands and arms to indicate shape.

CONVENTIONAL GESTURES are symbols for words. These can include the raised hand for “stop” and two raised fingers for the number two.

FACIAL EXPRESSIONS are often the key to the meaning behind what is being verbally said. Our faces communicate much more than any other part of our bodies. When we are talking to people they are watching our faces for sincerity, and our attitude towards the subject being discussed.

What we need to do is match our facial expressions to our spoken words. If you are trying to express a tragic event, smiling would be inappropriate.

Eye contact is important. In some cultures avoiding eye contact is a sign of insincerity,dishonesty or disinterest. Conversely, in other cultures avoiding eye contact is an expression of politeness and respect.

The best way of understanding what it is you are doing when interacting with people is to practice in front of a mirror if possible. Then you will get a clear visual on how you appear to others. This is a great time to make any adjustments you might need to improve your body language.

What is your body language saying about you?