Do our bodies ‘speak’?
If I smiled sweetly would you react differently to me than if I growled and snarled?
OK these are extreme examples, but you get the point?
Our bodies are us, and they are expressing how we feel, think, believe, what we want or don’t want, all the time. If we’re open, if we’re closed, if we’re trying to hide things, if we’re exagerating or playing hard to get etc., etc.
So body langauge is perfectly natural, and we are all of us, able to read it, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Learning body language is a part of our growing up and the natural development of our social skills. We need to learn who is friendly and who isn’t. Who’s being honest with us, and who is lying through their teeth.
What can we do to refine these skills and get better at it? Also, what are the cultural differences which may lead us to mis-interpret body language signals?
If you don’t believe there are cultural differences in the way people express themselves through body their langauge, then take an opportunity to watch some Italians in conversation, then go watch some Japenese people interacting.
In fact, it is the powerful role body language plays in our social interactions and relationships that make it such a fascinating area of study. A number of studies have indicated it can have an important effect on how we are perceived, although there is a disagreement on the exact percentage split between the importance of body and verbal language.
This is an important facet of body langauge, it is not only can we read other people more accurately, but also are we projecting an accurate message ourselves. Is the reason our boss dilslikes us due to our body language habits?
Another issue worth being aware of, is that body and verbal language are intimately linked and choreographed. So, it can be a mistake to take one out of context to the other.
Other applications are in the field of rapport building with others. One of the pet subjects of NLPers and covert persuasion experts the world over. If you can read and subtly mimic someone’s body language back to them, then they will warm to you more than if you don’t (allegedly).
This fascinating area of our lives is going on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unfortunately it is too big a subject to cover here in the limited space of a blog.
Whether you have a professional interest, say in making more sales, or a personal interest in getting on with your partner more easily, then it is certainly worth being knowledgable about.
During my research I have turned up a couple of sources which I think you will find useful if you’d like to know more about the finer points of body language.
The first resource is a book by Geoffrey Beattie, who was an official psychologist on the famous Big Brother TV show. Using diverse examples he takes on the issue of what our everyday gestures mean and how they affect our relationships with other people.
The second resource is for the connoisseur who, out of professional necessity or personal fascination, wants to learn from an acknowledged master, Kevin Hogan:
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