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Body language or non-verbal communication is referred to as the use of expressions, mannerisms, gestures, physical act, to convey something. The most important aspect of body language is that physical behaviour happens instinctively and not consciously. At times, the person isn’t even aware of their body language and what they are pushing forward but it is happening on both ends – there is a constant giving and receiving of physical, non-verbal signals. Similarly, it doesn’t stop when people stop talking, in silence as well, the body language is still contributing.
However, it is important to note that despite most of our verbal cues being instinctive, there is still a room for them to be trained consciously. Some people make a conscious, active effort to not let their non-verbal cues give away any sort of message but it requires the will to do as a person is going against their instincts; or training their instinctive behaviour.
While body language is defined as physical behaviour, there are still different types of non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, body movement and posture, gestures, eye contact, touch, space.
- Facial expressions constitute the 7 universal micro expressions that every human makes, as discovered by researcher Dr Paul Ekman, such as joy, fear, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust and contempt. The universality of these expressions makes facial expressions one of the strongest and consistent of body language as they remain the same across different cultures and gender.
- Body movement and posture is about how people sit, stand and walk. It is about how people carry themselves and communicate ideas and feelings about themselves. Posture often conveys personality characteristics as well, such as whether a person is open, confident, or submissive. This type of non-verbal communication dominantly include stance, posture and the subtle movements a person makes.
- Gestures are hugely influenced by culture as they are deeply woven into our everyday lifestyle and they are one of the most obvious body signals. For example, a clenched fist indicate barely concealed anger.
- Eye contact is an important type of body language as they are responsible for telling a great deal about what a person is thinking or feeling. It includes direct eye contact, avoiding eye contact, looking away, the speed of their eyes blinking and dilated pupils. These specific cues can indicate whether a person is interested, bored, defensive or uncomfortable. The way a person looks at someone can communicate their feelings about the person they are talking to or what they are talking about.
- Touch communicates plenty of feelings to the other person. A tight hug, a pat on the back, a strong handshake or a dominating grip on the arm – each one of them communicates a certain sense of a feeling in a person.
- Space is primarily about physical distance or space while talking to a person. Each person has a different need or preference when it comes to personal space, which is heavily influenced by the sort of culture they’re in, by the sort of relationship they have with said person, and the situation. Physical distance is often used to convey feelings or thoughts that are otherwise not said out loud such as intimidating someone with close space.
In order to make lives easier and help people with learning how to read non-verbal cues, there is a body language training course available for people to make some much-needed changes in their lives which will only help them better, personally and professionally as well.
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