You may think your mother tongue is English or other languages, but you are wrong. The language you are talking with the most is not the one you speak with it by using your tongue. The first language we all should learn how to talk with is body language.
Body language is the physical and non-verbal behavior with which we can transfer our means and communicate. Knowing about body language techniques helps us communicate better and more effectively. By using its methods, we can be the best in our negotiation, communication and public speaking.
The importance of learning body language
Body language is one of the non-verbal communication skills which has an essential position in our daily life from usual regular talks to professional negotiations.
We can identify others’ intentions and messages better when we know body language, and we can control what we want to say.
The words don’t matter so much.
Before you start a conversation in crowd, you see their behavior and body moves.
When you see someone for the first time at a party, you judge them for being a friend or foe by noticing their body language. Researchers believe that words transfer the message, but body language shows our feelings and personal perspectives. Sometimes they refer to it as a replacement for verbal messages. For example, can a woman look at a man and scares the hell out of him only by that look?
Professionals should know what others are doing by listening to their voice and predict what they want to say by seeing their moves and body language.
Body language is the ability to know the emotions and behavior of the ones around you.
How can body language spoil our emotions?
Body language clarifies our emotional conditions. Every gesture, every move is critical to show our feelings. For example, a fat man who is worried about his weight pulls his double chin and a woman who is concerned about her fat flank, lowers her shirt all the time. Someone who is defensive sits with folded arms or has his legs crossed or maybe even does both.
The key to read body language is to understand people’s feelings besides we listen to what they say and notice their conditions while they talk. This way we can distinguish truths from lies.
But body language is more complicated than to know the whole character of someone only by learning a few points. To read body language, we usually have to analyze several gestures and behaviors at the same time.
Is the ability of body language inherent or acquired?
Let me ask you a question first. When you sit with folded arms, do you put your right arm on the left or your left arm on the right?
Most people don’t know which one until they actually try it. Sit with folded arms right now and then change your arms’ positions. You’ll know which one is easier for you.
Evidence has shown that this gesture is genetically and can’t be changed.
It’s true that there are many different cultures, but most of the main body language signs are the same in different countries.
Albeit there is still debate that which one is acquired and has become a habit and which one is inherent.
For example, most men put their coats on starting with the right sleeve while most women do the same starting with the left sleeve.
Albeit this one is because men use their right hemisphere more than the left hemisphere and for women, it’s the opposite.
Some important points:
When you hear from people in different positions or see their gestures, you can’t be sure about their right perspective; you have to consider these three rules before you judge:
Principle 1: Try to notice all the moves at the same time
One of the most common mistakes in reading body language is to interpret one move aside from the others.
For example, scratching your head means sweating, uncertainty, dandruff, flea, forgetting things and lying. To know which one is correct depends on other gestures at the same time as this one.
Body language has words and phrases like all languages. Every move is like a word.
For example, “dressing” means:
– a sauce for salads
– a piece of material used to cover and protect a wound.
– Putting some clothes on
– size or stiffening used in the finishing of fabrics.
– a fertilizing substance such as compost or manure spread over or plowed into a land.
The moment you put “dressing” in a sentence with other words, you know the meaning of it.
A correct sentence must have at least three words; body language is the same.
Principle 2: look for harmony
Researches have shown that the non-verbal signs have a five-time impact over verbal talks. Imagine you see a politician talking about embracing young spirits and their ideas, but he stands with his folded arms and his head below. Once, Freud was listening to one of his clients talking about how happy she is with her marriage but she was playing with her ring, taking it off and on. At this moment Freud understood she’s lying and she is not happy with her marriage.
Principle 3: read the signs at the specific situation they happen
For example, when you see someone with folded arms in snowy weather while he puts his leg on the other and his chin is down, it probably means he’s cold. He’s not defensive at this situation. Or he may be polite to sit with folded arms. But when the same person sits in front of you with the same gestures while you are selling something to him, it means he doesn’t agree on your offer.
The importance of body language in communication
Have you ever noticed that you see others’ body language in a party before you communicate with them?
Imagine you are at a party and you want to talk to someone. First, you see their body moves and facial expression. Is this person angry or happy?
Then you decide. If the person is happy, you start with a sentence that makes him even happier, a joke for instance.
But if he’s angry, you know you have to start talking more seriously and not making a joke.
You must know that learning body language affects your behavior too.
Imagine you are going to a meeting. When you know about body language, you know you have to be well-dressed, polite. The steps you are taking while you walk and your gestures are essential for the first impression. Now that you have learned body language, you do things so that they receive your message quickly.
The way you look at the others at the table on a meeting, your eye-contact and the way you shake their hand have a profound effect on how the session may continue.
Unmannerly secretary and salesperson
It must have happened to you several times when you want to buy something, and you don’t have a good feeling about the salesperson.
The secretary may treat you very politely, but yet, you don’t feel great about her/him.
In this case, you may regret buying from them and leave the store. You rather buy from a place where its staff makes you feel great.
Communicating with the boss
Sometimes, you want to talk to one of the staff who has a higher position. They treat you awfully, the way it alters the way you think about them.
For example, sometimes the manager won’t look at us when we are talking to him, and he’s playing a game on his phone.
In this situation, not only you feel bad, but also you think he disrespects you. On the other hand, the manager thinks he is doing great because he doesn’t encourage him to be rude.
Communicating with friends
There are many times that verbal talks of our friends and relatives are the same, but after a while, we tell them: hey, why are you acting like this?
They say: like what?
And we often say: like this.
There is a joint in all this talk! Our friend or relative conveys a lousy feeling to us without changing his/her word. It shows how powerful non-verbal communication is.
What is its role in all this?
Professor Albert Mehrabian was born in an Armenian family in Iran. He’s a Psychologist in the communication field, and he pointed out to an interesting subject in one of his researches which people such as Brian Tracy always refers to.
He found out that all our communication effects include three parts:
2- the tone of voice
3- body language
another interesting thing is that the effectiveness rate of each part depends on how we communicate.
As you know, most speakers and professionals focus on words and pay less attention to their tone and body language while this research has shown that the words have the least impression of almost 7%. It’s 38% for the sound of voice, and 55% is for body language!
It’s fabulous indeed. It means teachers who sit behind a desk and teach, use only 7% of their teaching ability. It’s a disaster because most people- not just teachers- ignore this in their methods and communications.
Now it makes sense to justify why people prefer to watch TV than listen to the radio and prefer to listen to the radio instead of reading a book.
Till now we talked about non-verbal signs. Now we want to see how to use them to have better communication.
First, we should know which parts of our body and in which situation.
Maybe this categorizing is not common, but it can simplify things:
1- regular interpersonal communication:
Body language comes in handy in these kinds of communications (communicating with a salesperson, manager, etc.) which we have many of them in our lives. For example, if we are not willing to listen to them, our movements show it too! (of course, there are solutions to that which we explain in other articles.)
2- public speaking:
Body language is essential in public speaking and presentations which is the primary goal of this organization) and we have to pay very close attention to it.
First, we have to be careful that our body language won’t make the audience feel terrible. Second, we have to impress the audience with our movements for example, when we show a significant amount, opening our arms will help.
3- Audience analysis
We have to see if the audience is willing to hear what we are saying. Are they telling the truth or lying? Does the person trust us or not?
We intend to explain all this in other lengthy articles.