Body Language Explained

The Basics of Body Language Explained in Minute Detail

When it comes to human behavior, body language is considered to be of great importance, as it helps in judging a person and/or presenting yourself in a positive manner.
SocialMettle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Body language has of late become one of the most important life skills for us. We tend to use various parts of our body when we are verbally communicating with someone. Studies reveal that our body language and the tone of our voice play a prominent role in our communication. In fact, these two account for 93 percent of our communication―the former accounting for an astonishing 55 percent, leaving mere 7 percent to what we actually speak.
Body Language: An Overview
The term 'body language' refers to all the signals given by a person either by voluntary or involuntary body movements. It includes all gestures, postures, and expressions through which an individual displays his physical and mental state in order to communicate nonverbally. Eye contact while talking, for instance, displays the confidence in a person, whereas looking down or avoiding eye contact displays his timidness.
At times, body language is also referred to as nonverbal communication, which is technically incorrect. Nonverbal communication includes body movement as well as the tone of the person, whereas body language only stresses on the movement of various parts of the body.
Body Language Basics
Facial Expressions
One of the most important attributes of body language, facial expressions speak in volumes for an individual. It's impossible to talk to someone without displaying your emotions through your facial expressions. Although some people have mastered it, it's difficult to fake emotions, especially if the person with whom you are communicating can observe and interpret your body language.
If you are sharp enough you can easily catch any individual who is faking emotions. You can't have a smiling face when you are talking with someone you don't like at all. The smile will be a fake one, and fake smiles can be easily inferred.
Eye Contact
Even our eyes can help in interpreting our body language. Looking straight into the person's eyes when communicating with him reflects your interest in that person, whereas looking away from him indicates your disinterest. People who are not comfortable and people with guilt tend to avoid eye contact.
Hands and Legs
Even our hands and legs, undoubtedly the two of the most used body parts in human anatomy, have an important role to play in this context. The way we move our hands and legs can give our descriptive character sketch to others.
  • Open palms reflect sincerity.
  • Biting nails reflects nervousness.
  • Rubbing of hands reflects anticipation.
  • Walking to and fro reflects urgency or impatience.
  • Keeping your hands and legs folded reflects disagreement or lack of attention.

Posture Shrugged shoulders and slouching indicates fear or boredom, whereas broad shoulders and upright position indicates confidence. Hands on hips reflects authoritarian stance, while hands behind the head with legs spread wide hints at relaxation. Leaning forward when you are talking to someone in person stresses on your interest towards the person (or what the person is talking). The tendency to transfer your weight from one foot to another frequently while standing, speculates your indecisiveness and lack of trust.
There are several instances wherein the art of decoding body language can be of great help, and your observation skills have a crucial role to play in the same. Simple gestures, like maintaining eye contact or leaning in front when talking to someone, can send across the message that you are keen on conversing with him. On the other hand, if people with whom you are talking are looking around or have their hands folded when talking to you, it displays their disinterest and boredom. As we said before, body language interpretation can help you in displaying a positive attitude, and also, judge other person's negative attitude.