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Learning To Read And Decode Body Language

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by Conscious Reminder

Communication without words is not simple. Body language is examined by almost all professionals as they often have clues regarding the character of a person.

Understanding it takes time. It requires one to heighten their perception and awareness of the body language of others. Often, we find media commentators scrutinizing the slightest gestures of celebrities in the hopes of getting a glimpse of their inner worlds.

Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher in non-verbal communication came up with a rule known as 7-38-55 in the 70s. It states that for communication in all messages, 7% are purely verbal, 38% are vocal, while 55% are nonverbal.

Leaders in several fields even employ private experts in body language because of the significance of nonverbal messages. However, for a normal person, the majority of body language perception is primarily automatic. This means nods of approval or knowing a friendly warm smile from a cold distant one.

Fundamentally, the emotional state inside a person is externally signified by their body language. Understanding it needs us to know about the different kinds of communication that can take place nonverbally, as well as their meanings.

Body Language: Reading And Understanding It

There are nearly a million nonverbal signals and cues. These include facial expressions such as brow movements; nonverbal cues like smiling; hand gestures, posture; and eye contact.

The majority of us are quite unaware of the impact and signals of body language, even though we know that the majority of the messages involved in a physical conversation are communicated via body language.

Reading body language is vital for navigating numerous pasts of life such as exercising professionalism, providing information, and expressing intimacy.

One of the best ways of improving our ability to read body language is recording ourselves while we are communicating. It can be while we are presenting or talking with a close friend. However, a recording of the way we communicate will show us our body language in action.

The next essential practice is observing the subtle changes in another person while they are communicating. They help us tune in more closely to what the other person is expressing, knowingly or otherwise.

Similar to how we mostly automatically read body language, the majority of how we perceive it is also automatic. But they are often unquestioned. We might arrive at an assumption from observing a certain expression. However, every individual has their own methods of expression. As such, it is vital to follow up and make sure these assumptions are correct.

Additionally, nonverbal communication has different interpretations based on context. For example, in some cultures, a kiss on the cheek is a simple greeting while it can have romantic connotations in other cultures. One must also keep in mind the context when reading body language.

Lastly, it is very easy to think that our assumptions are always correct. But the reality is we will never know the details of a person’s methods of communication. Furthermore, there can be various short-term factors in play affecting body language like illnesses, distractions, and bad days.

Can We Be Mislead By Body Language?

At the end of the day, experts agree that narratives based on body language can be often false. Crossing arms can indicate disinterest or be a pacifying behaviour.

Giving meaning to the nonverbal communications of others can not only be misleading but also ableist. For example, we might assume someone is unfriendly because they do not smile too much. However, that person, in reality, might be a very nice person but is awkward while meeting new people.

Experts say that the first thing we learn while reading behaviour is understanding how usual it is for us to be wrong.

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