Understanding and Decoding Body Language

Body Language

We talk even when we are not talking. Communication is a process that does not require words most of the time. We convey how we are feeling and what we are thinking through our facial expressions and gestures. Our body language is more powerful and expressive than a thousand words. But, most of the time, we fail to use our body consciously as a mode of communication.

Body Language is the term used for the process of communicating non-verbally through conscious or unconscious gestures, body movements, and facial expressions.

Human beings usually send and interpret such signals almost unconsciously. But, body language is entirely different from sign language.

Although people communicate through body language without giving much importance to it, or rather unconsciously, we should be careful about what signals we’re giving out (as people will read it and interpret it as a message). A person’s body language reflects his feelings and temperament as well as thoughts.

Case Study

Vincent is extremely happy and excited that tomorrow he will take charge as a Sales Manager in his office. It will be his first day in office after the promotion. Now, he will have a team of managers who will report to him. Although, Vincent is a smart and confident guy, today he is feeling a bit nervous and confused.

He wants not only his words but also his body language to be proper so that he leaves a strong and positive impression on his new team. He called up his boss who guided him on how to conduct himself.

The first, and most important, thing the boss told him was that “it is extremely important that our body language is used as an appropriate means to communicate so that it sends across the correct message to the people we interact with.”

Now Vincent is feeling confident and relaxed.

Positive Body Language Cues

If you see the following signs in someone’s body language while the person is communicating, you can be sure that he/she is confident and positive about the conversation and is receptive. This works both in individual conversations or in groups:

  • Standing straight and tall, head held high and shoulders towards the back.
  • Regular eye contact with a smile on their face.
  • Use of hands and arms while talking.
  • Clear speech with moderate tone.
  • Nodding head while listening.

Negative or Defensive Body Language Cues

When a person shows the following signs during a conversation, it’s easy to figure out that he/she is not so confident and not receptive:

  • Rare or no eye contact.
  • Hand and arm gestures are minimal and are close to the person’s body.
  • Not smiling and nodding while listening or talking.
  • Arms crossed in front of the body signifying unwillingness or non acceptance.
  • Clenched fists, tapping of hands or feet.
  • Speech is often fast-paced, not clear and pitch is high.

Body Language cues Showing Disinterest

If a person or a group is not interested in what you are saying, they might express it through the following signs:

  • Heads are down.
  • No eye contact.
  • Not sitting or standing actively/attentively.
  • Fiddling with a pen or flipping paper.
  • Looking/gazing at someone or something else.
  • Drawing or scribbling on the paper.

Body language plays a very important role in our conversations and can quite accurately convey what we are feeling. But, at times, the meaning of certain gestures can vary depending on different cultures.

He speaketh not; and yet there lies a conversation in his eyes ~ H.W.Longfellow (Tweet this)

The correct use of facial expressions and gestures reinforces what we say and vice versa. It also helps us in judging how the other person is feeling. So, next time  you are saying something, make use of your body language effectively to pass on your message more accurately and effortlessly.


About the Author

Varsha Tyagi is a Master's in Psychology with 5 years of Experience as a Life Skills Coach and a Counseling Psychologist. She has worked with many schools, colleges and corporates as a Counselor and a Life Skills Trainer and dealt with both children and adults. She is currently working as a Life Skills Facilitator with an organization.

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