Body Language: Understanding the Tell-Tale Signs

Published: 08th September 2010
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Body language is a part of our everyday lives. We may be oblivious to it, but our bodies speak just as loudly as do our words.

Our body language is a part of how we put across our message to others, but it can also be a way to obtain constructive feedback on the internal states of those we are trying to influence.

Do you grasp the remarkable power of interpreting other people's body language and understanding your own? Do you know how to draw on this capability?

With an understanding of body language, you can recognize other people's internal feelings even if they do not open up with you about them. As well, you'll be able to fine-tune your own behavior to adapt to the situation you are in. You will better be able to create a climate of friendliness, trust, and confidence. Body language goes far beyond what you can accomplish with mere words alone.

Let's look at the various bodily movements and gestures that people display in different situations.

Body Language That Shows Interest:

It is useful to understand and recognize when people show a genuine interest in what you are attempting to communicate with them. With this understanding, you can modify or adapt your message to get the response you desire.

Imagine that you are a chemistry teacher. If this were your favorite subject and something of fascination to you, you might therefore unconsciously expect your students to feel the way you do. But do they? Are your teaching skills sufficiently keen to spark their interest? Unless you understood the various body signals transmitted by your students (and I'm not talking about throwing spitballs and making paper airplanes) you would not know how well they are receiving your subject.

If a student is gazing at you with unblinking eyes, is she captivated or just daydreaming? With an understanding of body language you would be able to fine tune your self to your studentsí reactions.

With the above in mind, here are some movements people display when they are interested in what you are saying:

They keep eye contact. In fact, they make eye contact at least 60% of the time. Wide-open eyes tend to indicate interest. Generally, a person tends to make more eye contact when listening then when speaking.

They lean forward, or least they tilt their heads slightly forward.

They nod from time to time, and I'm not talking about nodding off! I'm talking about shaking their heads up and down that suggests that they agree with you. This indicates that they are alert and paying attention.

They align their bodies and feet in your direction.

They may smile, but remember that all smiles are not created equal. What is known as an "oblong smile" is not "real." It may be a polite but not joyous smile. The lips may be withdrawn from the teeth, taking on an oblong form. This is the type of smile people make when they are pretending to enjoy a joke.

Gestures That Indicate People Are Agreeable To What You Say.

According to "how to read a person like a book" by Gerard I. Nierenberg, there are many clues to help you determine if someone is amenable to your suggestions. These include:

Leaning forward or sitting on the edge of their chair

Putting their hands on their hips, a gesture indicating readiness

As a seated variation of the above gesture, putting one hand on the thigh and leaning forward

Avoiding touching or rubbing the nose, which is considered a signal of doubt by many experts avoiding looking down at you over the top edge of the glasses

Keeping their hands open. This implies sincerity.

As a young child, you learned to interpret the facial expressions of your parents, perhaps when you asked for a new toy or to be taken to the amusement park (a scowl would mean "no").

As you mature, the ability to understand facial expressions and body gestures becomes more important. It is a way you perceive whether people will be agreeable to your suggestions. It can be of great help to employees, negotiators and maybe even lovers.

Keep the above tips in mind to help yourself do well in your endeavors and to adjust your approach depending upon other people's reactions.

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