Think for a few seconds. If you’re around people, stop and look around. Take a moment and observe the people walking by you or sitting at the tables near you. Most of the time, you don’t need to listen to their conversations or ask them what they’re thinking or trying to communicate. Directly or indirectly, everybody’s body language speaks louder than words.
Take for example, someone that is sad. You can easily tell by their demeanor that they are not happy. Their whole body sulks and they walk about as if a dark cloud follows over them. On the other hand, someone that is happy walks about as if they are sunshine incarnate. They beam with joy and their body radiant with every step. This is body language.
Understanding basic body language helps one be a better communicator and person. I know a young boy who cannot for the life of him stay out of social trouble. He’s great at starting friendships but not maintaining those relationships. A good reason why he has this trouble is due to his lack of understanding body language. Instead of noticing his friend needs time alone or is not interested in playing at the moment, the boy will press for the friend to do what he or she does not want to do. This quickly creates friction and a verbal or even a physical altercation will then occur.
Body language is everywhere and in every facet of life. The next time you are at work talking with your boss or co-worker, remember body language. If you become better attuned to what people are saying with their body, you will quickly be regarded as a very important asset to your company.
At home, pay attention to what your spouse is saying beyond words or what your sibling is really feeling. When you can naturally pick up on their physical cues and mirror them accordingly, you will be esteemed as the most tender and understanding member of the family.
Understanding body language is not always simple. The person you are trying to read may have other variables involved and assuming you can understand them can lead to frustration. For example, the crossing of arms at the shoulders is widely understood as a physical cue, that the person is opposed to what he or she is hearing. But, in many cases this can also mean the person is seriously thinking about what is being discussed. A third possibility is that the person is simply trying to keep warm.
I once heard that body language is really 95% of what we say. Words are only 5%. Our own intentional efforts, to become better communicators by using or restraining body language is, key to being influential or persuasive.
To become better at understanding or using body language, there are many books one can read and find at your local bookstore or library. The internet is also rich with resources both free and for a fee on the subject of body language.