“Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Among our ancestors, those who paid attention to people and understood how they functioned could better navigate their social world. These talented observers of people were a little bit better at predicting who would make a good ally, who to dig a well with, who would be a good mate, and who to avoid whenever possible.
Body Language: A truly powerful concept that seems to contribute to a successful understanding of the personality of people around us. This, of course, applies only if the observer can decode the signals and the attitude of the body properly, matching them up with the things that are said, the time, the age, the gender, and the background of each individual.
Body language: A language that is different from all the other languages. It’s a language with no words. It’s a magical way of expression! It’s an ability to read the mood and thoughts of others. It’s a type of communication between people without the slightest use of speech…
Learn how to “read” other people without these people saying any words. Get to know the people around you better and, then, observe them carefully. These people have a lot of things to say without even talking. Further below, you will be able to understand body language better so that you can draw conclusions about opinions, wills, beliefs and the ultimate personality of the people around you.
How we communicate with others?
Being able to communicate effectively is the most important of all life skills. Developing your communication skills can help all aspects of your life, from your professional life to social gatherings and everything in between. The ability to communicate information accurately, clearly and as intended, is a vital life skill and something that should not be overlooked. It’s never too late to work on your communication skills and by doing so improve your quality of life.
However, what is communication?
Communication an essential element of life, not only for the human being but also for other beings on the planet. Without communication, it is not possible to survive on the earth. It is important that communication is perceived in various forms and levels. Communication is the act of expressing (or transmitting) ideas, information, knowledge, thoughts, and feelings, as well as understanding what is expressed by others. The communication process involves both sending and receiving messages and can take many forms. The two most important types of communication are:
- Verbal communication;
- Non-verbal communication
“You cant photoshop personality” (Unknown said)
What is verbal communication?
Verbal communication encompasses any form of communication involving words, spoken, written or signed. The conversation we have with our coworker at lunch, the morning news or the sports page we read in the morning – even the text message you send to your spouse telling him to pick up some milk is a form of verbal communication. Our ability to communicate with a language that is based on an organized system of words, rather than merely sounds, is what sets us apart from lower species. Not only do we have language, but we also have the technology that enables us to communicate with one another no matter the physical distance.
When asking “what is the most powerful form of communication among people”, the answer that prevails is usually: “the verbal form of communication The majority of people still believe that the individuals express themselves and communicate better through words and through speech. From the very first years of his life, the individual learns how to communicate through the verbal form of communication, through speech, in order to be able to survive in a society and be a member of this society. Through the acoustic form of communication, thoughts, views and ideas are conveyed in order to transpose a concept with its main characteristic, the speech.
However, let’s not forget that things are not always as they look. Many times people respond with “yes”, but they actually mean “no”. They say “it does not matter”, but deep inside they have been hurt. Is it possible to perceive this false answer? Can an individual understand if words coincide with thoughts?
We all have perceived at some point in our lives that people say things they do not believe and they do not feel. They hide behind their words and sayings, they project a personality which is not their real self either to deceive other people and protect themselves, or to impress, and, most of the time, to convince other people.
Ιs there, though, a way to discover the truth about the personality of people around us? Can we understand when a person is lying, is feeling uncomfortable, is introverted, or is hiding something from us?
Lisa Prosen once said, “If you want to know what one’s hiding in his mind, pay attention to his words and sayings. If you want to know what he is hiding in his heart, watch his moves.” What does she mean by saying that?
So, we use verbal communication to inform, whether it is to inform others of our needs or to impart knowledge. Verbal communication helps to clarify misunderstandings and provides missing information. We can use verbal communication to correct a mistake, something that was said or done. The power of the words, “I’m sorry,” is often more effective than an action. Verbal communication can also be used as a tool of persuasion. It creates an opportunity for debate, stimulates thought and creativity, and deepens and creates new relationships.
Robert M. Krauss in the article, “The Psychology of Verbal Communication,” published in the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2002, explains, “A species’ survival depends critically upon its ability to communicate effectively, and the quality of its social life is determined in large measure by how and what it can communicate.”
“No one can know for sure what you think, but see what you do” (Menandros)
Nonverbal form of communication
The answer may probably be found only in the nonverbal form of communication. More elements and factors are probably required in order to discover an individual’s personality. If the lie may be expressed through words, then, the truth may be hidden in the movement, in the way of visual contact, in the attitude of the body or even in the tone of the voice.
Thus, the secret that will lead to the assessment of each personality is the understanding of some automatic bodily features during interaction with other people in order to collect useful information before they even open their mouth to speak. These automated features are part of the nonverbal communication code.
Therefore, we communicate with much more than words: when we interact with someone, our body has a language of its own. The way we sit, the gestures we make, the way we talk, how much eye contact we make – all of these are non-verbal ways of communicating that impact the messages our words are sending.
What exactly does that mean? In simple words: “learn to listen through your eyes!”
Edward G. Wertheim, Ph.D., in his paper, “The Importance of Effective Communication,” details how nonverbal communication interacts with verbal communication. We can reinforce, contradict, substitute, complement or emphasize our verbal communication with nonverbal cues such as gestures, expressions and vocal inflection. Avoiding eye contact when we tell someone something communicates something far different than do spoken words, just as a bright smile when we say congratulations reinforces the sincerity of our words.
“An ugly personality destroys a pretty face.” (Unknown said)
What is Body Language?
Body Language: It’s “speaking through my body”. This term has much more features than the terms we originally thought there were. All of us have been found in moments in which we believed other things, we wanted other things and we finally said other things. We act this way in order to hide, or not to hurt other people, or because we have put our desires or wishes after other people’s desires or wishes. In this case, we refer to nonverbal ways of communication and that is what we mean by referring to messages sent without the use of written and spoken language
Nonverbal communication and body language include the following:
- the facial expressions;
- the physical contact;
- the body posture, and
- the tone of voice.
So, put simply, body language is the unspoken element of communication that we use to reveal our true feelings and emotions; by body language we refer to our gestures, our facial expressions our tone of voice and our posture, for instance. When we are able to “read” these signs, we can use it to our advantage. For example, it can help us to understand the complete message of what someone is trying to say to us, and to enhance our awareness of people’s reactions to what we say and do. We can also use it to adjust our own body language so that we appear more positive, engaging and approachable.
The facial expressions
Facial expressions are believed to reveal a person’s current emotion and motives. According to folklore, the eyes are ‘‘a window to the soul’’ or a ‘‘mirror of the soul’’. The eye expressions may be influenced by a smiling or an angry or a sad mouth. Thus, they can reveal any secret.
A wide, toothy smile, where all the facial muscles, including those of the eyes, are in tension, reveal a joyful, extrovert and positive personality.
A steady gaze reflects a confident, poised, authentic individual, who is not shy or introverted, who has nothing to hide; it reflects an individual who receptive and open to human contact.
The physical contact
A step towards people we talk to, a hug, a hand shaking reveal a generous, cheerful individual, a person with a firm and strong personality.
A specific distance from your interlocutors during a meeting may show respect, but it may be a threat as well. In fact, according to research, the closer and more comfortable you feel to a person, the more your body movements look alike.
The body posture
An upright posture, unbent shoulders, relaxed arms and legs may show an outgoing, confident personality; however, arms crossed and a drooping posture may be a signal of defensiveness and resistance and are a sign of discomfort, insecurity and weakness.
As in the animal world, in the nature of human beings, there are certain gestures which are typical for indicating a sexual interest or attraction.
An individual who has something to hide is uncertain and cautious. Hands to the forehead, or on the lips, or covering the mouth may be indicative that this individual has something to hide as these gestures show that what has been said is a lie as touching the mouth is associated with deception and fear that the truth may be revealed. The individual does not have an upright posture, changing his or her position quickly and all the time, having his or her head retracted or jerked back or bowed down or cocked or titled to the side, and distracts the attention of the person he or she is talking to from the truth. He or she puts his or her hands behind this or her back or in the pockets in order to avoid revealing his stress and anxiety.
The tone of voice
The messages that you send with your voice are known as paralanguage. Often it is not what you say but how you say it that determines an interaction’s outcome.
The tone of your voice can help you communicate what you mean to convey, or it can reveal thoughts you mean to conceal. It can reinforce or negate the words you speak. The sound of your voice communicates, revealing to others your emotional state, attitudes, personality, status, and interaction maintenance, or turn-taking, needs. How you speak influences how others interpret your intentions, as well as how credible, intelligent, or attractive they judge you to be.
Thus, the main features of the voice are:
- the tone of voice and the voice quality;
- the volume of the voice (the power of your voice, its loudness or volume);
- the rhythm of the voice;
- the pauses as the individual speaks;
- speech speed;
- the pitch (the highness or lowness of the voice); and
- the breaths this individual takes as he or she speaks.
Depending on the individual’s state of mind and psychological state, these features may change. So, for example, someone who has something to hide has a higher volume, he or she speaks quickly; his or her breathing is slower and he or she makes many pauses. An individual who is typically loud may alienate others; such a person is often viewed as overbearing, nervous or aggressive. In contrast, if you are soft-spoken, others may interpret your behaviour as timid or they may think that we have something to hide from them. In addition, typically, we increase volume to stress particular words and ideas and to reflect the intensity of our emotions. Similarly, a sudden decrease in volume can add suspense or sustain another’s attention. So, we should point out that volume that is varied is most effective. As for the rate of the speech, in many ways, rate reflects the pulse of your words. It quickens to indicate agitation, excitement, and happiness, and it falls to convey seriousness, serenity, or sadness. In addition to slowing or increasing the rate of speech and emphasizing key ideas, brief periods of silence or pauses give us a chance to gather our thoughts.
In other words, we should point out that nonverbal or para-verbal communication can be deciphered by paying more attention to the following voice features:
- the tone of voice: increasing tones express a dose of safety while decreasing inflections show insecurity;
- the pauses between words and phrases: both transmit clues about the speaker’s intentions and attitudes;
- the speech speed may be slow or fast; it is worth saying that a fast paced speech may show that the speaker is unsure and He or she knows what he or she wants to say but he or she’s talking fast because he or she wants to get rid of the words as he or she does not feel comfortable when speaking. While an average pace expressessafety, the speaker knows that what has to say is just as important to everyone as it is for him or her. A slow pace is not desirable because it gives the impression of low intelligence as well;
- the voice volume shows speakers’ authority, the individual’s power of persuasion and the ability to be listened to; and
- other sounds (onomatopoeia, moan, scream, grunt, sigh, laugh) are designed to complement the verbal message where moods are too strong or words are lacking for the moment.
At this point, we should consider the social environment and the background; It is quite common that the tone of voice differs between people of different cultures.
“Appearances make impressions but it is the personality that makes an impact.” (Unknown said)
Research carried out on body language and personality
For more than 75 years psychologists have studied how subtle nonverbal cues might reveal your personality. In 1933, the well-known psychologist Gordon Allport and the author Phillip Vernon contended that there was consistency in people’s expressive behaviour, and that from these nonverbal cues, personality could be discerned. However, in their research, they pointed out that this does not apply to all expressive movements, but for some it simply gives a sample of the direction of the personality.
For example, while the main features of extroversion/introversion can be accurately distinguished through nonverbal behaviour, at the levels of stereotypes and biases, personality is not so obvious, but, after a long-term observation, we get certain elements of this personality. In addition, some people show expansive movements, such as gesturing wildly, while others are more restricted and closed-off. This might suggest differences between extroverts (who are expansive and outgoing) and introverts ( who tend to “keep to themselves”).
According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s research (1960) which has been carried out at the University of Los Angeles as well as according to the communication spectalist’s, Mr. Thanassis Papamichail, research (2009), the meaning of a message is communicated by:
- Your words 7% (verbal communication),
- Your tone of voice 38%, and
- Your body language 55%.
That means that the numbers represent the percentages of importance that varying communication channels have. The belief is that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken.
This statistic is, of course, just a sample and it certainly does not cover the whole range of cases. Thus, in the example of a liar, research has revealed that not only body language is sufficient to identify the liar, but it always stands in tune with both the tone of voice and the verbal communication. Usually, the liar speaks to a high and unstable tone of voice, he is not accurate as he talks to others and he repeats his sayings in order to convince. So, the conclusion was that nonverbal communication stands for 93% of all communication.
“Your body communicates as well as your mouth. Don’t contradict yourself.” (Allen Ruddock said)
It is therefore concluded that that understanding the body language is not always an easy task as it requires practice, accurate observation, concurrence of various signals emitted by the body, experience and usually long-term verification of the conclusions.
According to the American psychologist Paul Ekman and the psychologist Michael Argyle who deal with the different aspect of body language, nonverbal communications is a kind of language. In fact, they pointy out “We cannot interpret an individual gesture or a movement, unless we do that in concurrence with the general context and the other expressions of verbal and nonverbal communication. Usually the concurrence of the four aspects of communication is necessary. A movement can happen accidentally. A second one can make us be suspicious. But if we encounter four movements that concur, the margin of error is eliminated as the random case of consecutive coincidences.”
Have you ever thought how much time we talk on a daily basis and if this issue makes us think that body language is stronger than verbal communication? The anthropologist Ray L. Birdwhistell was an expert in kinesics, the part of nonverbal communication that deals with postures of the body and movements of various parts of the body that play a role in communicating, particularly while people are speaking. Anthropologist He concluded that the average person speaks words for a total of about 10-11 minutes per day and he also estimated that the average sentence takes 2.5 seconds. In addition, he found out that the verbal component of a face-to-face conversation is less than 35% and that over 65% of communication is done nonverbally.. Birdwhistell also estimated we can make and recognize around 250,000 facial expressions.
According to research that has been carried out, women use an innate ability that uses 14-16 parts of the brain, the so-called “women’s intuition”. So, women are far more perceptive than men, and this has given rise to what is commonly referred to as “women’s intuition.” Women have an innate ability to pick up and decipher nonverbal signals, as well as having an accurate eye for small details. This ability is particularly evident in women who have raised children, especially during the first years when they have to communicate with their children through nonverbal speech by developing this ability. On the contrary, men have only 4-6 parts of the brain that are developed.
Nevertheless, that does not mean that someone cannot be more vigilant and observant and be able to understand the person he or she is talking to, since body language is universal. There are specific movements, expressions and postures of the body that are representative of some aspects of an individual’s personality.
“Body language is more powerful than words.” (Ricky Gervais said)
There are some rules, below, that are essential and necessary in order to read and understand each individual’s body language and personality.
- The significance of a number of movements is mainly determined by the different cultures;
- The interpretation of the different movements should be made in concurrence with other expressions as well as with the given living conditions;
- Body language functions just like all the other languages,
- using words, sentences and punctuation,
- while each movement corresponds to a word that may have different meanings/interpretations
- Body language is always compared with the verbal communication,
- Body language may help
- At the professional level, since research shows that most of communication consist of body language and the effectiveness of professional life depends on how a person communicates through his or her body language,
- At the personal level, since it can give away an enormous amount of information about a situation a person may be in and just from the way you stand or more obviously your facial expression people can tell how you are feeling and what you may be thinking,
- In everyday human contact,
- In order to express stronger feelings or emphasize what you have just said or you are saying,
- In order to understand the people you are talking to or those who are talking to you.
“Women’s body language speaks eloquently, through silently, of her subordinate status in a hierarchy of gender.” (Sandra Bartky said)
What does your body language say about your personality?
As already mentioned, our body language can say a lot about our attitude, feelings, and character.
Here is an indicative list of the most obvious and clear features corresponding to specific personalities:
|Women/men||Stomach pulled in tight, chest stuck out, straight back, head held high, shoulders pulled back||Poised, self-confident, sense of power, sense of excellence|
|Women/men||Fetal position, closed posture, head pointing down||Lacking self-confidence, insecure, defensive, vulnerable, feel intimidated, feel threatened|
|Women/men||Head pointing down, shoulders hunched||Feeling rushed, feeling bowed down, oppressed|
|Women/men||Back bent forward and a weak or concave chest||Lack of self-identity, shyness, emotional timidity, introversion; this posture indicates a depressed, disappointed, sad or helpless attitude|
|Women||Curled up body, chest pulled back/withdrawn, arms crossed in order to cover the body, folded legs||Feeling insecure as regards your body|
|Women/men||Walk in a self-confident manner; bouncy walk||Poised, self-confident, sense of power, sense of excellence|
|Men/women||Chest and abdomen exposed||Cool, easy-going, unreserved people; people who are themselves; people who have nothing to hide; sincere people|
|Women/men||Open legs, not crossed||Receptive attitude or bossy/domineering attitude|
|Women/men||Closed and crossed legs||Reticence; reserve; uncertainty; ambivalence|
|Women/men||Fists clenched in front of the body||Reserved people; anxious people; negative attitude|
|Women/men||Arms outstretched with the palms facing downwards||Certainty|
|Women/men||Arms outstretched with the palms facing upwards||Sincere people|
|Women/men||Arms and palms behind the back, in the pockets, etc, touching the nose, rubbing the eye||People who hide something; people who lie|
|Women/men||Arms crossed on chest||Putting a barrier, blocking others out; defensive attitude; Effort to protect yourself; retaliation; indifference; uncertainty; nervousness, anxiety; feeling cold; closing yourself off defensively; blocking any channel of communication|
|Women/men||Sitting with your hands behind your head||Being cool, self-confident; people who feel superior or overconfident; feeling dominant, superior and confident; a signal of satisfaction at a job well done|
|Women/men||person having his hands behind his head with elbows spread out||Feeling relaxed; feeling superior; winner’s attitude; feeling justified; feeling liberated|
|Women/men||person sitting and the index finger points vertically up the cheek, another finger is in front of the mouth and the thumb supports the chin||having negative or critical thoughts about the speaker or his subject; feeling hostility, aggression, dislike, disapproval|
|Women/men||Person standing and resting his hands on the waist or on the hips||aggression; controlling attitude; nervousness, anxiety; irritation, annoyance; Irony; Feeling successful but also feeling relaxed|
|Men||Person standing in a straight posture; the hands are in the pockets and the thumbs are visible, over the genitals.||the visible thumbs indicate dominance and sovereignty. This gesture is a common sign that someone feels comfortable. It may also indicate low status, if the thumb disappears in the pocket. Gestures showing a low status should be to be avoided – especially by persons in executive positions. physical desire, sexual attraction|
|Women/men||Standing in a straight posture; head high; arms behind the back||self-confidence; strength|
|Women||Sitting; arms and legs crossed||nervousness; defensive attitude; humbleness, modesty|
|Women/men||wrinkles/crow’s feet; upward pressure on the cheeks; the muscles around the eyes are contracted and the lip corners are pulled up||feeling glad; feeling happy|
|Women/men||Eyebrows raised, eyes wide open, open mouth||the person is surprised; the more the surprise, the higher the eyebrows are raised. Raising eyebrows may be a submissive move or indicate openness. Raising a single eyebrow may show arrogance, irony, cynicism or even that a person is puzzled.|
|Women/men||Frowned person with raised eyebrows; upper eyelids raised; lower eyelids tight retracted; lips retracted||fear; embarrassment, awkwardness.|
|Women/men||Lowered eyebrows of a frowned person; Angry look in the eyes; lips turned down||sad, distressed, upset, unhappy; sign of being defeated and weak|
|Women/men||One half of the upper lip tightens upward (known as a smirk); neutral eyes with one side of the lip turned up and pulled back (almost like a half-smile)||contempt|
|Women/men||Neck scratch and collar pull||a sign of lying, discomfort; not feeling comfortable|
|Women/men||Head pointing down, while simultaneously twisting the head to the right side||Being shy; being embarrassed; being puzzled|
|Women/men||Eye pupils dilated; wide opened dilated eyes||Positive and receptive attitude; being attracted by someone or something; approving something|
|Women/men||Eye pupils contracted||Rejection; resentment, disapproval|
|Women/men||Keeping your distance from the person you are talking to, stepping back when someone gets closer||Being reserved; being introverted; this person needs space|
|Women/men||Moving arms, legs and body||Anxiety; unease; stress; uncertainty|
|Women/men||Arms crossed||defensive attitude|
|Women/men||Raising eyebrows||emphasizing your sayings|
|Women/men||Moving your hands with palms facing down||fear of being verbally attacked|
|Women/men||Intensity in tone of voice; steady tone of voice; normal rhythm of voice||sensitive people; emotional people|
|Women/men||Hands put somewhere||seeking for reassurance, stability|
|Women/men||Hands being clenched in a fist||committed, strong-willed, determined, confident people|
|Women/men||Eyes blinking fast||uncertainty, nervousness and stress|
|Women/men||Thumb and index finger together while other fingers bent in the palm||emphasis on precision and detail|
|Women/men||Open gestures, torso exposed||honest, plain-dealing, sincere and approachable people|
|Women/men||Shy smile, downcast eyes, moving hair behind the ears||shy or flattered people|
|Women/men||Hands on the hips, open legs||motivated, assertive, determined, self-confident people|
|Women/men||Nervous movements||embarrassment, nervousness, anxiety|
|Women/Men||Raising the arms or pushing out the torso; Popping the chin up; jutting the chin out||triumph expressions: expansion, winning and dominance; arrogance|
|Women/men||Right hand holding the head.||boredom; lack of interest|
|Women/men||Right hand holding the head with the index finger in front of the mouth: a closed hand is resting on the cheek, often with the index finger pointing upwards.||it’s a “being interested” gesture; interested evaluation is also shown by this gesture too|
|Women/men||Raising the shoulders, eyebrows going up briefly and open palms||there is nothing to hide, they know nothing, they give in; submissive gestures|
|Women/men||Firm handshake||a firm handshake shows confidence and strength; it indicates that you are interested in building rapport with a person|
|Women/men||Open palm||submission, honesty, saying the truth, showing that you agree with the sayings or the actions of others|
|Women/men||Palm turned downwards||gesture showing power; hierarchy|
|Women/men||Hand holding or hand shaking where you offer your hand with the palm facing upwards and the first person’s palm is facing downwards||the palm down thrust is certainly the most aggressive handshake or handholding style as it gives the receiver the little chance of establishing an equal relationship.|
|Women/Men||Hand holding or hand shaking where the receiver’s palm is facing upwards||the palm up gesture is used to show submission to others to offer your hand with the palm facing upwards. This is particularly effective when you want to give the other person control or allow him to feel that he is in command of the situation.|
|Women/men||The palm in a fist and the index finger||threat, attack, negative feelings|
|Pulling the right side cheek and lip upwards.||liars|
|Tight-lipped smile||this smile is not so much used by liars as by people who have secrets or are withholding their true opinion or attitude towards something.|
|Distorted or uneven smile; lop-sided smile||type of smile that can be displayed only deliberately; the smile shows opposite emotions on each side of the face; it shows sarcasm too|
|Smirk; head bent and turned towards another direction, gaze raised||playful, sneaky, cunning people|
|Crossed hands clenched in fists||hostile, aggressive attitude|
|Rubbing hands together||sign of positive expectation|
|Women||Both hands touching the chin and the palms are facing downwards||Showing the face|
|Showing the thumb, while the rest of the hand is in the pockets||Self-confidence, bossiness|
|Stroking the chin||a signal that the person is thinking hard. They may well be judging or evaluating something, particularly if the conversation has offered them a choice or decision to make.|
Body language over the years
Body language is not a recent scientific phenomenon. Ancient Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle, Plato, Thalis, Socrates, and others were trying to stand up at a point with their hands covered under their tunics so they did not give body signals to their audience because they believed that the more physical movement a man had, and the stronger they talked with their bodies, the more “poor” their vocabulary and the less convincing they were. Philosophers and scientists have connected human physical behaviour with mood and personality for thousands of years, but only in living memory has the study of body language become as sophisticated and detailed as it is today. Hippocrates and Aristotle considered the aspects of body language probably through their interest in human personality and behaviour and Cicero related gestures to feelings and communications. Francis Bacon (1605) explored gestures as a reflection or extension of spoken communications. Darwin could be regarded as the earliest expert to have made serious scientific observation about body language.
Let us not forget that, from the day of the individual’s birth, the first means of communication that man uses is his body. Later on, the individual learns the use of speech and, depending on the vocabulary’s breadth and clarity, the individual uses the body language accordingly. In simple terms, the clearer the reason is, the less the need for expression through the body becomes. It is certain, however, that it is impossible to completely part with it. This means that body language has always existed and is necessary for the expression of mood and thoughts.
If we go back in time, we will find out that the human being began using speech about 2,000,000 and 500,000 years ago. Before that, body language was the main way of communicating and expressing emotions. It is worth pointing out that body language has been perceived relatively recently, in the 1960s. However, the reason why it has not been so intensively studied is because the individual focuses more on verbal communication. The researchers have noticed that individuals form an opinion about another individual much before this person even speaks to them.
Charles Darwin’s book “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals”, 114 years ago, and Albert Mehrabian’s work, in 1971, have been highly inﬂuential for research on emotions and emotion expression and researchers throughout the world have discovered and recorded more than 1.000.000 non-verbal means of communication, referring to more than 1.000.000 body language signs.
“We are what we seem to be, not what we are saying” (Darwin said)
Body language at work
Too many people underestimate the value of body language in business. This is a big mistake. First impressions absolutely matter, and by being mindful of the right body language, you can make the right gestures and movements that will help you get any meeting or interview off to a positive start. Although verbal communication helps to get things done in the world of work, you should not forget the importance of nonverbal communication and the way body language can help lay the foundation for you to deliver a specific message or statement of intent. Whenever you meet potential customers or employers for the first time, it can be all too easy to focus firmly on what’s coming out of your mouth. It’s not uncommon to use all your mental energy to concentrate on adequately conveying your words, but what’s also really important is to think simultaneously about what your body is doing. Body language is the most reliable source of human communication and the most reliable tool in order to understand personality, especially in the field of marketing, where the main goal is the promotion and sale of products. As mentioned by Ribbens & Thompson, (2001) “The importance of body language in management has not been appreciated as it should have been. The reasons for both the success and the failure of managers should be sought in the latent world of non-verbal communication.”
It is said that, these days, politicians may understand the importance of body language and that this particular field of work is based mainly on image and movement, always accompanied by speech. So, politicians need to know how to expertly speak in two languages — verbal language and body language. For aspiring politicians, knowing how to engage and reach the masses with their ideas and beliefs is essential. But knowing what to say is just as important as how to say it. For this reason, great politicians use personal body language advisors in order to use all the components of communication properly.
In advertising or in theatrical shows, the actor has to use body language properly in order to be convincing, realistic-looking as well as to lure the audience into the atmosphere of the play.
In general, body language plays an important role in the workplace, because it determines success or failure at the communication level. Body language plays a significant role in interrogations. The interrogator violates the intimate zone of the accused by pressing him to confess. Depending on the personality of the suspect, the suspect tells the truth sooner or later.
Having the things we referred to earlier in mind, let’s look at some of the simple, yet highly effective body language techniques, you can adopt to build immediate rapport with individuals and groups of people at work without even having to open your mouth:
- Focus on your posture
Before you sit down to talk business or your future career with an individual or group of people, the first thing they will recognize is the way you carry yourself. Your posture is very important in terms of demonstrating confidence. Make sure you stand up straight–no slouching!–with your shoulders back and chest out. A forthright, positive posture will also put you in the right frame of mind when it comes to what you say.
- What about smiling?
Your facial expression can also help to set the tone of any business meeting. In order to make a counterpart or colleague feel at ease and in order to establish an immediate rapport with other, you should smile, gain the respect of others, and create that positive environment for discussion.
- Another useful body language tip is to “study” carefully the facial expressions of others and mirror these expressions. If they are laid-back and jovial, behave likewise and you’ll feel able to relax and enjoy your meeting. If they are serious and want to focus on the matter at hand, keep the same attitude.
- What about the value of eye contact?
Once you’ve worked on your posture and smile, it’s then important to keep a keen eye on what your counterparts or colleagues are saying verbally. Have a direct eye contact when you talk to him or her as this suggests you’re giving them your full attention and that you care. However, if you work within an industry that requires you to regularly venture overseas, it’s highly recommended that you brush up on the role body language plays in business traditions around the globe. For instance, you may not be aware that while regular eye contact is viewed positively in North America and Canada, in the Middle East, eye contact is only viewed as a symbol of sincerity and trust between those of the same gender.
“Language is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy, will come through to your audience before you even start speaking.” (Peter Guber said)
Can we influence body language?
The truth is that there have been many studies on this question with significant findings. As already mentioned, from the day of the individual’s birth, the first means of communication that man uses is his body and body language is an integral part of the individual’s existence Not only does it help in communication, but it reflects the inner being of the individual. We could say that body language is an inherent / hereditary phenomenon, but that’s not the only thing.
People who deal with this non-verbal mode of communication report that they cannot change what their body reveals about them unless they change it in a considered way. This requires, of course, a lot of practice, a process that one is not willing to proceed into. Besides, as successful as an individual who manages to use body language is, he or she cannot attain 100% efficiency in using body language to the fullest. This is because subconscious movements are increasingly coming to the surface, so, in this case the individual will not be able to fully control the situation.
“Of all the things you wear, the expression is the most important.” (Unknown said)
Personality is complex, just like the non-verbal communication. Moreover, body language is not a language in an ordinary sense; it can help us identify the mood of the individual but not the individual’s character and the character’s features.
To sum up with,
- is connected to the individual’s personality;
- is a mode of expression;
- is a form of communication;
- is real and may reveal things that the individual does not want to share with others;
- is expressed by the subconscious;
- cannot disappear from the individual’s entirety;
- conveys emotions;
- is the main mode of communication among people;
- may be influenced;
- takes four signs in order to be timely and reliable;
- may have different interpretations in other languages, but…
- … it is, in general terms, identifiable throughout the world;
- must be read in the context of the situation;
- is inherent but it can be taught as well.
“Effective communication is 20% what you know, and 80% how you feel about what you know.” (Jim Rohn said)
Understanding body language is not easy; on the contrary, it’s a difficult, strange, but also interesting science. By becoming familiar with basic non-verbal signs, it is possible to improve body language understanding, in order to better understand the emotions, the thoughts of others around us, as well as our emotions and thoughts. With time, effort and dedication, you can also “study” the personality of others and you will be able to understand if the other person is a shy, extrovert, distressed, or a self-confident individual!
Let’s not forget that the main features of our personality are conveyed through our body posture! Moreover, when we refer to instinct, we might mean that we know how to interpret body language. Besides, the eyes are the mirror of our soul!
Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the concept of personality, the factors that influence it and the types of personalities so that you can rank yourself in one or more of them. In this way, you will have compiled all the information that is necessary so that you can better learn about others around you as well as about your own self.
Who are we really? Are we really who we think we are? Why are we what we are? Can we change who we are? So, learn yourself better and use this knowledge in order to have a better and more positive and advantageous life. This information is the key to understanding behaviors and, eventually, to the importance of personality formation and development.
If you want to know what personality category you are classified in, follow the link below and do the personality test…
Recommended by Motto Cosmos.
More information about
Would you like to learn more about topics of the personalities? Then please check out the links right down below:
- What is Personality?
- Theories of personality development
- Personality alphabet
- Personality Development
- Codes of Personality
- Personality Types in the General Population
- 200 Influential Personalities of all time
- The greatest personalities in Ancient Greece
- What colours could reveal about our personality?
- Personality and body language
- Mottos as a way of understanding and evaluating one’s personality