Body language is a term for communication using body movements or gestures instead of, or in addition to, sounds, verbal language or other communication. It forms part of the category of paralanguage, which describes all forms of human communication that are not verbal language. This includes the most subtle of movements that many people are not aware of, including winking and slight movement of the eyebrows. In addition body language can also incorporate the use of facial expressions.
Although they are generally not aware of it, many people send and receive non-verbal signals all the time. The technique of 'reading' people is used frequently. For example, the idea of mirroring body language to put people at ease is commonly used in interviews. It sets the person being interviewed at ease. Mirroring the body language of someone else indicates that they are understood.
Body language signals may have a goal other than communication. Both people would keep this in mind. Observers limit the weight they place on non-verbal cues. Signallers clarify their signals to indicate the biological origin of their actions.
It should be noted that some people (e.g., people with certain disabilities, or those on the autistic spectrum) use and understand body language differently, or not at all. Interpreting their gestures and facial expressions (or lack thereof) in the context of normal body language usually leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations (especially if body language is given priority over spoken language). It should also be stated that people from different cultures can interpret body language in different ways.
How prevalent is Non verbal Behaviour?
Some researchers put the level of nonverbal communication as high as 80 percent of all communication. More reasonably it could be at around 50-65 percent. That’s exactly what Mehrabian discovered in his communication study. He found that only 7 percent of communication comes from spoken words, 38 percent is from the tone of the voice, and 55 percent comes from body language. However, Mehrabian was only referring to cases of expressing feelings or attitudes, such as when a person says "I do not have a problem with you!" when people commonly focus on the tone of voice, and body language of the person, rather than the actual words said. It is a common misconception that these percentages apply to all communication.
Body language in groups
In groups there is typically one person speaking at a time but many more can be showing their responses via body language . This may be an important reason behind groups tending to be more emotional and less rational than individuals.
Personal Space as it Relates to Body Language
Generally, if you are closer than arm’s reach, then you are in someone’s personal space. To create more space in crowded areas such as elevators and bars, people often tense up and use their arms as protection. They will hold them close to their body – often crossed – and will also avoid eye contact. People guard their intimate space passionately, wherever it is, and do not appreciate others invading it. Respecting people’s intimate space involves not invading it with objects like bags or jackets, or with body parts unless they are welcomed. Intimate space is closer then 50 centimetres (18 inches), social is at around 50 centimetres (18 inches) - 1.5 metres (5 feet) and casual (for strangers) is at 1.5 - 3 metres (5-10 feet). These distances differ from culture to culture; in China for example, they are smaller.
Female Interest and Body Language
Women commonly display interest in men via sexual cues. These serve to entice men to approach them. Some of the cues to signal female interest include: the parade, echoing and mirroring, room encompassing glance, pointing, leg crossing, the pointing knee, neck touching, head tilt, shoulder shrugs, rotation of the pelvis, showing wrists, skirt hike, laughing and smiling, the tap, forehead bow, eye contact, touching, childlike playfulness and proximity to name many.
The Rule of Four
The rule of four states that in order to be sure that another person is unequivocally displaying non-verbal sexual interest, four connection positive symbol must be present and they must have imminent direction. A person who is simply sexually aroused might display one or a great variety of cues, but they might be generally directed toward a room and not at anyone specifically.
Do you speak a familiar language? Learning to tweak your own body language can put your customers at ease.(Body Language, part 2)
Sep 01, 1997; In the first installment of this series, we talked about how to read your customer's body language and how to react to it. Now...