The Ultimate Guide to Body Language

Body Language

The Ultimate Guide to Body Language

Mar 30, 2022, 12:31:03 PM Life and Styles

Presented by BetterHelp.

When it comes to communication, many people tend to overlook the most important aspect of getting your point across. Body language actually accounts for around 90% of all communication, meaning that humans are mostly speaking through nonverbal methods. Understanding why nonverbal communication is important can help you express yourself more clearly and make you more aware of your behaviors. Since most body language is done unconsciously, it can take some time to learn to spot it in yourself. However, you can have the added advantage of being able to read others’ nonverbal cues, which can assist you in different areas of your life. To learn more about body language, click here to read some articles written by BetterHelp.


What Is Body Language?

Body language refers to a set of cues, signals, movements, facial expressions, and gestures that people use to communicate nonverbally. Most of the time, these gestures are unconscious or even unintentional. However, when someone is upset, sad, or happy, they may use body language to express their feelings. When a person is using passive-aggressive behavior or doesn’t know how to properly share their feelings with someone else, they may rely on body language to get their point across. While the things we say or do can convey a lot of information during a conversation, the same can be said of the things we don’t say or do.


Body Language Around the World

Although some nonverbal signs are universal, most are not. Different cultures or countries have unique sets of gestures that they use to communicate, and they all have their own unique meanings. In fact, using certain signs in some countries can land you in big trouble if you’re not careful.


For example, giving a thumbs up to someone is a pretty positive sign in most Western countries. However, if you head over to the Middle East and give a thumbs up, you’ll be communicating one of the worst possible insults. The “rock on” hand symbol used by a variety of hard rock bands is the sign of the devil in many European countries. Making the “OK” gesture with your thumb and index figure signals you’re fine with something in the United States and England but is a vulgar insult in countries like Brazil. Before traveling somewhere new, it might be wise to research some body language dos and don’ts to stay out of trouble.


Reading Someone’s Body Language

Unless you know a person very well or are trained to read body language, it can be very difficult to gauge how a person is feeling. While it may be easy to read facial expressions like happiness (through a smile) or sadness (through a frown), it’s much harder to tell if someone is lying solely through nonverbal cues, for example. Some other emotions you can probably read with relative ease through facial expressions are:


●      Fear

●      Confusion

●      Disgust

●      Anger

●      Surprise

●      Desire

●      Excitement

●      Shock

●      Grief

●      Joy

●      Rage

●      Concern


In general, facial expressions are mostly universal, even from culture to culture.


The eyes are another place you might look to read someone. If someone’s pupils grow bigger when they look at you, it could indicate desire. If they have a hard time making eye contact, you might view them as shy or less trustworthy. The more they blink, the more uncomfortable or stressed they could be.


Expressions of the mouth and lips can also be telling. Some people will bite their lips or the inside of their cheeks when stressed or anxious. They may also lick their lips when worried. A tightly closed mouth might indicate that someone is expressing their distaste or disapproval or something or someone. If someone covers up their mouth, it might seem like they’re lying or hiding something. Of course, a smile tends to portray that a person is happy.


The arms and legs can say a lot. Crossed arms generally mean someone is closed off to a conversation or person or defensive, while open arms show they are more accepting or interested. Crossed legs reflect similar sentiments. Hands on the hips might mean someone is aggressive or in need of control. Fidgeting with one’s hands or legs could indicate boredom, impatience, or frustration.


Improving Your Body Language

Now that you know how much influence body language can have, you can take steps to improve your own. Here are some tips you should keep in mind when interacting with others whether at home, work, school, or elsewhere:


●      Use a firm handshake, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to hurt the other person.


●      Maintain good eye contact, but don’t stare. Gaze for a few seconds at a time, then look away.


●      Use an open posture so that people know they can approach you.


●      Be aware of your own body language and that of others.


●      Straighten your posture; try not to slouch whether sitting or standing up.


●      Avoid crossing your arms or legs.


●      Keep your chin up.


●      Don’t check your watch during a conversation or meeting.


●      Remove barriers between you and the other person.


●      Mirror the other person’s nonverbal cues.


●      Use your hands when talking, but don’t overdo it.


●      Break bad or unnecessary body language habits.


●      Smile often!


Becoming more aware of your own body language can help you have more control over it. Understanding what nonverbal cues mean in other people can also help you to gauge a person’s true thoughts and feelings more accurately. While it’s tempting to focus on words alone, actions often speak louder. Since much of our communication is done through nonverbal methods, it’s important to pay attention so that don’t miss important signals another person might be trying to send. By being more aware of what’s going on not only with your own expressions but those of others, you can have more control in various situations and know how to respond better. The more you know about body language, the more success you might have in each of your relationships whether they are romantic, platonic, or professional— and who wouldn’t want that?  

Published by Arina Smith

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