Body language reveals more than verbal language


Whether hanging out with friends, negotiating a deal, interviewing for a job, delivering a speech or meeting someone new, the body is constantly emitting messages which are often sent and received subconsciously.

Contrary to popular belief, words are not the most important part of conversation. In fact, according to The Power of Body Language by Tonya Reiman, 93 percent of communication when speaking with someone face-to-face is nonverbal.

Not only that, but words aren’t very reliable, either. According to Reiman, more than half of people will tell a lie during a 10 minute conversation, even with complete strangers.

Studies show that females detect falsehood with more accuracy than males, but they are more likely not to
believe the lie and to give the person the benefit of the doubt.

Common signals of lying include: rubbing the nose, covering the mouth with the hand, licking/rolling lips, blinking less/more often than usual, lack of details and lack of gestures while talking. However, these motions must occur in groups; don’t convict someone based on just one of these signals.

In different societies, certain signals contain different meanings. What is commonly known as the ‘peace sign’ in the U.S. has a completely different meaning in Great Britain when the signal is flipped around so the back of the fingers face forward.

However, there are seven expressions that carry the same meaning across the globe: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and contempt.

The facial muscles are the easiest to manipulate, but sometimes they slip and are visible for less than a second. These “microexpressions” are hard to catch, but subconsciously people recognize them. They help create the “vibe” one feels of another person and create what’s commonly known as a “gut feeling.”

Employers often go on this gut feeling when interviewing future workers; first impressions are important.

Most teenagers apply to work during the summer, but there’s more to landing the job than simply applying. The interview process can be difficult, but using certain body language can help it go more smoothly.

Finding out as many details as possible about the interview– or any event in which a first impression is crucial– beforehand will help build confidence and create a feeling of ease. A relaxed visage will make a better impression than a tense, anxious demeanor.

The happiest person has the most power in the room. Approaching the potential employer with a bright, happy countenance causes him or her to reflect that emotion, putting a smile on their face whether they intended to or not. As a result of wearing the emotion, they will experience it, too, and be filled with happiness.

During the actual interview process, maintain a straight posture while sitting; this indicates interest and attentiveness, while leaning backwards is very informal and can be seen as disrespectful.

Crossing arms or legs may be comfortable but can be perceived as a barrier between the one person and the next, as well as a defensive gesture. For women, crossing the legs at the ankle is preferable to the knee, since it can prove to be distracting for the other person.

In turn, employers give subconscious signals as well.

If at any point during the interview he or she places an object, such as a pen or a cell phone, on the desk between them and the interviewee, it does not bode well. The item is a sort of barrier, separating the two.

Afterward, if the interviewer feels good about the future employee, he or she will walk around the desk or counter to say goodbye. Reaching over the desk or counter keeps a barrier between the two while they shake hands and is not a good omen for the employee’s job-seeking future.

Gestures are important both in giving a speech as well as talking with friends and family.

Speaking with one’s hands not only engages the audience but also helps make the speaker’s point. Rapid hand motions indicate excitement and passion about the topic at hand.

Not everybody uses gestures in the same way or with the same frequency. Liars will either suddenly stop using such gestures or significantly increase usage when fibbing, but it’s important to know how they talk normally to judge whether what they say is false.

Sometimes people only tell a half-truth. Accordingly, their hand motions won’t match up with their words.

Just as fishermen spread their hands to demonstrate the size of their catch, people often use the same gesture to speak about size in general. When they refer to something large but their hands are only a couple inches apart, or vice-versa, they aren’t speaking the whole truth.

Sometimes when talking with somebody, they continue to nod throughout the conversation. Although they might never verbally agree with the subject at hand, it is understood that they are encouraging it.

In the same way, a single raised eyebrow shouts out a person’s skepticism, although they might never even say a word.

This movement can be used to influence others’ thinking. When conversing in a group of people, flashing the single raised eyebrow at the people listening will evoke doubt in whatever is being said, all without even murmuring a sound.

Although your friend may say, “That sounds like a good idea!” If she has a high tone and her eyebrows are raised extremely high, chances are she doesn’t mean it at all and is simply being patronizing.

Before school, in front of the building, students group together to chat before the bell rings. Often they form circles, and within these clusters a myriad of phrases are being spoken by each person’s body.

The feet indicate a person’s interest. If instead of being pointed towards everyone else in the circle, one person’s shoes are directed away from the group, he or she subconsciously wishes to leave, no matter how genuine their smile seems; remember, the facial muscles are the easiest to manipulate.

If all the people in a group “click” together, they will mimic each other’s body language. For example, all of their arms might be folded, their hands shoved into their pockets, or their legs crossed in a certain way.

If everybody stands in a particular manner but one person stands differently, he or she probably doesn’t feel comfortable or doesn’t “click” with the group. One pair of crossed arms when everybody’s are hanging loosely by their sides also indicates discomfort.

The human brain is hard-wired to pick up on these signals. The result is a subconscious gut feeling which judgments are often based. This isn’t always a bad thing. The more aware people are of these signals, the more they will be able to communicate efficiently and appear genuine.


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