- What is Body Language?
According to research, our whole communication is made up of 35% verbal communication and 65% non-verbal communication. This shows how often we use our body to convey our feelings and emotions or what is better known as body language. Ray Birdwhistell, an American anthropologist, has a more formal and scientific way of describing body language, which is kinesics, which includes facial expression, gestures, posture and gait, and visible arm and body movements. But to give a more eloquent definition, Body language is a type of non-verbal communication where people use physical behaviors such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, hand movements, and eye contact, instead of words to express or convey information.
- Why Is Body Language Important?
We have this old but golden principle, “Actions speak louder than words.” This saying alone can summarize the whole importance of Body Language in our lives. But to give you a clearer picture, let me enumerate four reasons why it is important.
- It improves self-confidence.
Perhaps, we can agree that some of us are not born with the “confidence DNA” as I would like to put it. Some of us have a shy personality which is actually fine. But there will be times that we need to look confident and body language can help us with that. For example, when attending a job interview, employers would not potentially favor a fidgety applicant with a slouchy posture. They would pick a candidate that looks confident and competitive. Shy people can actually use body language to mask their timid personality. Just by practicing how to walk and sit confidently for an interview can go a long way. And as you practice and make it a habit, you will soon realize that your actual confidence level is boosting. Eventually, this will even positively raise your self-esteem.
- It attracts positivity.
Body language can be a person’s greatest charm. Once or twice in your life, you may have met a persona whose mere presence in a room brings positive aura; like the air above that person is a mixture of brightness, respect, and power. If you are going to observe that person, I am confidently sure that you will notice that the way he or she walks, sits, stands, and uses hand gestures and facial expressions are all flawlessly on point. People are most often than not, stimulated by what their eyes perceive. So, the more appealing someone’s visuals are, the more people are attracted to him or her, as well as opportunities.
- It plays a key role in public speaking.
If you are aspiring to be an excellent public speaker, then you may want to develop the best set of body language. But even if you’re not, then you should still recognize its role in public speaking. Let me tell you this, there will come a time in your life, whether you like it or not, where you will have to stand on a stage while the spotlight is focused on you and you will have to hold a microphone. If you're striving to build a corporate career, then you are expected to report in front of other staff and even company executives. If you want to perform excellently, then you will need to learn positive body language.
- It helps you excel in the different areas of your life.
Be it in the workplace or your personal relationship, body language can lead you to success. They say good communication fosters good relationships. So, if communication primarily consists of non-verbal communication, then is it not only logical to learn the art of body language if you want to achieve success?
Now, what is the art of body language? What is considered an effective set of body language?
- How do we practice positive Body Language?
There’s a general rule: make eye contact and maintain it properly. This means you show interest and affection towards people by looking them right through their eyes. But to do it properly, you must not stare too long or they will feel uncomfortable rather than engaged. Make a 1 to 2 seconds of eye contact and switch your gaze to another direction. After quite some time, you may perform eye contact again to keep the conversation flowing.
The voice is a lesser-known aspect of body language. But the tone, volume, and pace of your speech is actually a great way to communicate your feelings and to understand other people's feelings as well. Take this, for example, talking fast may indicate nervousness but talking slowly and articulately means you are sure and confident about your points. A low and soft voice may indicate shyness, a loud voice may mean arrogance, while a soft but clear voice indicates good expression. For effective body language, I suggest that you practice modulating your speaking voice so you can mostly sound articulate, clear, and friendly.
- Body Posture
According to MedlinePlus.com, the key to good posture lies in the spine. The three natural curves of our spine which are the neck, mid-back, and low back should be maintained and not increased. This means that the head should be in line with your shoulders and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips. For a start, maintaining your spine alignment should be practiced whether you’re sitting or standing.
There are generally three hand gestures that one should learn when to use. First is the “Give” gesture where you keep your hands open and best used for presenting facts and options. Second is the “Show” gesture where you move your arms outwards like stretching an accordion which is also used to show a range of options or an expanding list. Lastly, is the “Chop” gesture which is performed as though you have just chopped watermelon in the air. This is usually used to convey a strong opinion, rule, or law.
- Head movement
Head movements are usually used to express respect and politeness. In cultural body languages like Korean and Japanese, they bow their heads for greetings. The most commonly used head movement is nodding to convey agreement and shaking the head to signify a “no”. Generally, you may want to hold your head high to maintain a confident posture. You can also lean your head forward to show someone that you are interested in.
These are the basic things you should know about developing an effective set of body language. I hope you keep these tips in mind and apply them in your daily life because it might sound exaggerated and dramatic, but practicing positive body language can greatly help you towards success.