The old saying "action speaks louder than words" holds true. In a given situation, even if you do not communicate verbally, your body speaks volumes by revealing your feelings and emotions. Body language and non-verbal communication go hand in hand.
Today, body language is an integral part of the selection criteria at many job interviews. A candidate may not be aware that there is someone among the interview panel who is studying his body language. Body language is read by observing the body posture, the eye movements and the rhythm of breathing. Reading body language is a skill that could be acquired through training and practice.
Counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists are good at interpreting body language of their clients. By reading the body language, a counselor or a psychologist is able to understand the problem of his client and prescribe the right kind of therapy.
The army and police force also use body language interpretation techniques for crime investigation. The investigative officers look for telltale signs in the criminal or accused to determine whether or not he is speaking the truth.
Some Examples of Body Language
Remember, in a pie chart for communication, 70% is occupied by non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication includes gestures, tone, and modulation of voice. The parts of the body considered while reading body language are:
- Head - face, forehead, eyes, eyebrows, cheek, chin, mouth
- Arms - elbow, hands, fingers
- Legs - knees, foot
- Torso - shoulder, back, hips
|Biting nails||Nervous, Insecure|
|Drumming fingers||Restlessness or Impatience|
|Steepling fingers||Display of Authority, Influence|
|Open palms||Expression of sincerity, Innocence|
|Rubbing both hands||Anticipation, Impatience|
|Resting the cheek on the hand||Thinking, Evaluating|
|Folded arms across the chest||Disagreement|
|Walking to and fro with hands clasped behind||Frustration, Apprehension|
|Eyes downcast||Guilty, Boredom|
|Rubbing the eyes||Disbelief, Doubt|
|Rubbing the bridge of the nose||Uncertain, Rejection|
|Resting the head on the palms||Boredom, Despair|
|Head tilted to one side||Shows interest, Listening|
|Hands on the hips||Aggression, Authoritative|
|Brisk walking||Exudes confidence|
|Kicking your foot while walking or sitting||Signs of boredom|
|Sitting with hands behind the head and legs stretched||Relaxed, Confident and Thinking|
|Leaning forward||Displaying Interest|
Body Language At the Workplace
It is important to exhibit a positive body language at the workplace to enhance a healthy work environment and also to maintain a good working relationship with your immediate superiors and colleagues. One-to-one meetings or team meetings are a part of a business organization; these meetings help the manager to understand the problems faced by his team and also establish a good working relationship. Team meetings and team building exercises help to motivate the team and invoke an overall spirit of the team. To create conducive work atmosphere, it is necessary for the manager to display approachable and empathetic body language. Take a look at some of the examples of workplace body language.
Whether or not your manager is agreeing or interested in your conversation can be understood from his body language. If he is standing with his foot and body turned towards you, i.e. mirroring your body pose, then it is a sure sign he is agreeing with you. When his body posture is not mirroring that of yours it means he is not in agreement with you. A manager and an employee who want to establish a good rapport with one another should mirror their body postures. This is a non-verbal sign that two people are thinking along the similar lines.
If the manager or the employee is sitting with their arms crossed tightly across their chest, it is a defensive position. It simply means he is not agreeing with you. Even if you are agreeing with what you hear, crossing your arms across your chest displays a negative attitude. So it is better to sit or stand with your arms uncrossed. If you want to cross your arms, it is always better to cross it on your lap.
Facial Expression and Eye Contact
One's disagreement or agreement is reflected on one's face. Your face is the mirror of your inner emotions such as anger, fear, or sadness. Facial expressions reveal one's feelings in a given situation.
Another important tool is eye contact. If a person makes eye contact with you, it is a definite sign of interest. However, if his eyes are downcast, he is likely to be hiding something or it could be guilt.
Reading and interpretation of body language is done by many business organizations as a part of their manpower staffing procedures. Body language is a very vast, but interesting, subject. Body language plays a vital role in team building and also in establishing mutual understanding between two or more people.