Back to Basics with Body Language

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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.

One of the most basic and powerful body-language signals is when a person crosses his or her arms across the chest. This can indicate that a person is putting up an unconscious barrier between themselves and others. It can also indicate that the person’s arms are cold which would be clarified by rubbing the arms or huddling. When the overall situation is friendly, it can mean that a person is thinking deeply about what is being discussed. But in a serious or confrontational situation, it can mean that a person is expressing opposition. This is especially so if the person is leaning away from the speaker. A harsh or blank facial expression often indicates outright unfriendliness.

Consistent eye contact can indicate that a person is thinking positively of what the speaker is saying. It can also mean that the other person doesn’t trust the speaker enough to “take his eyes off” the speaker. Lack of eye contact can indicate negativity. On the other hand, individuals with anxiety are often unable to make eye contact without discomfort. Or if while making direct eye contact a person is fiddling with something, even while directly looking at you, it could indicate the attention is elsewhere.

Disbelief is often indicated by averted gaze, or by touching the ear or scratching the chin. So is eyestrain, or itchiness. When a person is not being convinced by what someone is saying, the attention invariably wanders, and the eyes will stare away for an extended period.

Boredom is indicated by the head tilting to one side, or by the eyes looking straight at the speaker but becoming slightly unfocused. A head tilt may also indicate a sore neck, and unfocused eyes may indicate ocular problems in the listener.

Interest can be indicated through posture or extended eye contact.

Hi I am Piyush Bhatia the Founder and CEO of BM English Speaking Institute Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, India. Come and learn English with us. Along with English training we also, enhance people’s confidence, public speaking, presentations, business English, grammar practice email drafting and group discussion skills.

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