Monday, June 22, 2015


What Does Your Body Language Say About You?

Communication between people is far more than just words that are spoken. Communication is a finely woven fabric that intertwines with countless nuances that have a tremendous impact on our interactions with others. Those nuances, if unrecognized, leave to chance how we are perceived and how we perceive others. We may have happy and productive interactions or disastrous encounters.

According to a study by Psychology Today, only 7 percent of our communication is actually the words that we speak (or write). The article stated, “The numbers represent the percentages of importance of varying communication channels have with the belief that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken.”

With only seven percent being spoken or written word, we can and often do miss 93% of a conveyed meaning. Think about it for a moment. How many times have you seen, or maybe even been a person who was misunderstood in a text message or email? It happens often.

If we communicate by telephone, we gain another 38% of the conveyed meaning because of tone of voice. We are able to detect emotions like anger, sadness, joy, sarcasm, and other nuances that give a clearer picture.

The biggest difference between the words we speak and the understanding of what is interpreted comes from non-verbal communication, otherwise known as "body language." By developing awareness of the signs and signals of body language, we can better understand and effectively communicate with others.

By becoming more aware of body language and non-verbal cues, and understanding what it might mean, you can learn to read people more easily. This puts you in a better position to communicate effectively. Moreover, by increasing your understanding of others, you also become more aware of the messages that you convey to them.

Recognizing which non-verbal cues from the body mean what can be a difficult task to learn. Much of it is open to misinterpretation when first learning, but there are a few common signs. First impressions are a great example.

When we first meet someone, their body language will give us a hint into their level of confidence. Did they stride confidently into the room, engage you, and maintain eye contact or were they tentative with eyes averted? Was their handshake firm and strong or weak and limp? During interaction, did their face appear relaxed or was it tense? What about hand and arm movements? Were their gestures wide, flowing, and open or were they tight, jerky, and closed? These are telltale clues to determining how you interact. Confidence should be met with confidence… not in an adversarial manner, but for mutual productive interest.

Typical things to look for in confident people include:
  • Posture – Standing tall with shoulders back. 
  • Eye contact – Solid with a "smiling" face. 
  • Gestures with hands and arms – Purposeful and flowing. 
  • Speech – Deliberate and clear. 
  • Tone of voice – Moderate to low. 

People who are feeling defensive often show signs that include:
  • Hand/arm gestures are small and close to his or her body. 
  • Facial expressions are minimal. 
  • Body is physically turned away from you. 
  • Arms are crossed in front of body. 
  • Eyes maintain little contact, or are downcast. 

If they are disengaged or detached, they will often display signs and signals that include:
  • Heads down. 
  • Eyes are glazed, or gazing at something else. 
  • Hands may be picking at clothes, or fiddling with pens. 
  • People may be writing or doodling. 
  • They may be sitting slumped in their chairs. 

Lies and fabrications can be detected by:
  • Maintaining little or no eye contact, rapid eye movements, with pupils constricted. 
  • Hand or fingers are in front of his or her mouth when speaking. 
  • Body physically turned away from you, or there are defensive body gestures. 
  • Breathing rate increases. 
  • Complexion changes such as in color; red in face or neck area. 
  • Perspiration increases. 
  • Voice changes such as change in pitch, speed, stammering, and throat clearing. 

As with all communication in general, it's important to remember that everyone's personal body language is slightly different. If you notice some of the typical signs of lying, you shouldn't jump to conclusions, as many of these signals can be confused with the appearance of nervousness, or another discomfort. Use these signals as a prompt to dig a little deeper, ask more questions and explore the area in more detail to determine whether they are being truthful or not… but not to the point of obsession.

Further clarification is always worthwhile when checking out your understanding of someone's body language, and this is particularly true during job interviews and in negotiating situations.

Believe to Achieve!

Joe Vulgamore is a Life Coach and Leadership Development Specialist - as well as a Personal Development Author and Speaker. He works with people to develop life and leadership skills to sharpen their edge, perform at optimum levels, and achieve excellence. He has 30 years of leadership experience and a proven track record of helping thousands of people from over 14 countries, across 5 continents, to make life-transformations through one-to-one coaching and workshops.

No comments:

Post a Comment