Good communication is imperative in today’s culture, and body language could be saying more than most realize.
“Body language simply refers to how an individual communicates with others nonverbally,” said Don Saucier, associate professor of psychology.
This can include conscious or subconscious bodily gestures and posture, which could be considered powerful tools too often taken for granted.
With little attention to the way people carry themselves and respond to others, the way communication is perceived can be easily manipulated. On the other hand, by being more conscious about unintentional and nonverbal clues and signals, behavior can be modified to project the image one desires others to perceive.
“Psychological researchers have to be careful when conducting studies that interact with their participants,” said Laura Banks, junior in psychology. “They don’t want any of their actions to influence how participants respond or behave in a scientific study.”
But in daily life, whether it be a potential employer, a friend or a romantic relationship interest, it is important to make the right impression. According to changingminds.com, nonverbal communication makes up more than 50 percent of how people perceive others, simply because words can be deceiving but bodies often find a way to speak the truth.
“We generally use body language in two ways,” Saucier said. “We use it automatically and we use it under control. Some evidence suggests that the automatic uses may be a truer indication of our underlying thoughts and feelings, while the more controlled uses may be a better indication of our conscious motives. In other words, the automatic way may be more honest, while the controlled way may be more indicative of what we want to convey.”
Regardless of whether a topic is truly interesting, showing interest in a conversation helps earn respect from the speaker. The way someone listens, looks, moves and reacts are all forms of communication.
Helpguide.org reported the nonverbal signals sent could either produce a sense of trust and desire for connection, or generate disinterest, distrust and confusion.
Attentiveness can be shown first by being still.
Body movement can signal distracting thoughts and feelings. When listeners are mostly still, they imply that the speaker has their undivided attention.
According to the helpguide.org article, it is also beneficial to lean forward slightly and use eye contact.
This makes the conversation seem more intimate and often encourages trust between the speaker and the audience.
An attentive person looks at the other person without breaking eye contact. He or she will likely blink less, almost for fear of missing something.
Saucier said body language is especially important because “other people can, or at least think they can, detect what someone is thinking or feeling from it. Interpreting body language is sometimes used in studies to see how comfortable one person is with another person, such as in studies examining prejudice.”
In addition, the corporate world uses body language interpretation everyday when interviewing prospective new employees, according to an article by lifescript.com.
The article gives insight on ways to have more comfortable body language. Before even entering an office, relax the shoulders. Often, when one is feeling nervous, the body’s tension winds up and gives an uncomfortable look.
Also, avoid crossing arms or legs, as this defense mechanism indicates a barrier between an individual and the person speaking. Lastly, learn to use hand motions confidently.
Instead of fidgeting with your hands or scratching your face, which comes across as uncertainty, use them to communicate what you are trying to say as you would talking to a close friend. Use your hands to describe something or to add weight to a point you are trying to make. All of this will help you further communicate confidence.
Interpreting body language could be important to know about, for potential interviews, relationships or other interactions in the future.