The reason why body language is important is that it’s happening all the time, signalling messages which can be interpreted or ignored; messages that may be expressing the opposite of what the speaker wants to say.
Body language isn’t something to believe in or not – it’s a fact. With no words, you can interpret what’s going on in the picture below with no problem – that’s one reason why body language is important!
We all read body language all of the time and some things are so obvious (smile, frown, anger, tension) that nobody could deny their existence, but when the body language is more subtle people start to get more bewildered, or disbelieving of its existence.
Learn to read body language and get a better understanding of what people are signalling – or become more conscious of your own silent body language and win people’s confidence and trust in you.
Expertise in reading body language takes loads of time, study and practise, but the basics are quick to pick up and can help you understand what silent messages are being transmitted to you.
Don’t miss out on this important part of communication; take action now to start to interpret these simple signals and learn why body language is important.
Basic Body Language Signs
When someone inclines their body towards the person who’s speaking it shows interest or attraction in the other person. They tend to feel a pull to the other person and open up towards them.
Crossing legs towards a person shows interest and warmth towards them.
Conversely it’s natural to cross the legs away from someone when you want to keep distance, reservation or coolness between you.
Or you can make it clear that you just aren’t interested at all by combining signals like in the picture below.
As always, crossing legs away from someone you’re interested in can be for other reasons like leaning towards a warm fire, or because of a sore leg or whatever. Body language signals are signs, not rules or facts to be read independently of their context.
When interested in each other, people often mirror each other’s gestures. So, as one person crosses his or her legs, or touches an ear, so does the other one, mirroring the action.
You can find yourself doing this sometimes and then become aware of the strange unconscious copy-cat behaviour!
Women will often reach up to touch their hair in an unconscious gesture of interest or attraction for the person who she’s speaking to.
In nature, eye contact can be used to challenge your opponent, so by making open, friendly eye contact you’re effectively saying that you’re not on the attack and that you’re not hiding anything.
Eyes can convey so many different messages so a direct, open and friendly expression will put people at ease and is essential to effective communication.
A warm smile is your biggest tool for putting people at ease. There are loads of different smiles, from a wide grin to a small twist on the lips, but generally we’re all aware that a smile is a positive thing as long as it’s given sincerely.
It’s common knowledge that a firm handshake conveys a direct, open and strong personality and creates more trust than a soggy handshake with flimsy touch. So next time you hold out your hand to shake someone’s hand, do it with conviction.
Using too much force can be a sign of wanting to be dominant over the other person, and beware not to twist the other persons hand under yours – showing control and dominance.
Deceit vs honesty
There are many body signals which arise when someone is lying, and unless they’re well practised and confident in their lies, some of these signs will show. Some obvious signs are sweating, avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, rubbing chin or nose or mouth area, blinking more rapidly.
Staring upward towards the left while speaking, is a sign of accessing stored information or memories while looking up to the right accesses the creative brain so is a sign of inventing information (or lying).
It’s a natural reaction when lying, to reach to cover the mouth and this action can become touching the nose or chin or full blown hand over mouth. Remember though, your subject may just have an itch!
Crossing arms is a surefire sign that the person is defensive, fed up, bored, wanting to leave, or otherwise negatively engaged in the situation.
When someone feels threatened and defensive, they’ll automatically cross their arms but remember that they can also cross their arms because they’re cold, so always take the action in context with the situation.
So, tell me why body language is important again?
No matter how much or little we know about it, body language is taking place all the time and even if you don’t think so, you’re making some of your opinions of other people based on what your subconscious mind reads from their body language.
So why not make it conscious knowledge and get the most out of it?
How to Use Body Language for Success
Start being aware and you’ll soon realise why body language is important as it helps you to give and receive silent messages to support your verbal messages.
Positive body language can transmit:
- honesty (but be sure to be honest, not just act honest!)
When you walk into that interview, stand up straight. Make direct eye contact with a smile on your face and offer your hand with a firm shake. As you’re answering the questions, keep your hands still, on your lap, no fiddling, scratching, or rubbing your nose. Breath evenly and be confident.
Don’t try to manipulate body language, or to make people believe things that aren’t true, instead use it to reinforce your natural abilities and send positive messages to people which will help you gain their trust.
So, when you’re feeling shy for example, by adopting positive body language you can grow much more more confidence in yourself, especially as you experience the positive feedback from those around you as a result of your body language.
Body language can be misused by the sleazy salesman but if you learn to read it you’ll rise above that threat because while we can choose our body language to a certain degree, we can’t completely change it.
So the deceitful salesman may use fake body language and fool someone who isn’t aware of non-verbal communication, but to the person who’s aware, there will be tell tale signals of his deceit, even if small.
Body language won’t buy you success, and one small body language sign shouldn’t be read as proof of underlying motivation from the speaker. But taken into account with all the other signals it can help you to assess someone’s intentions.
Do your best and you’ll get the best results for you. Be honest, be friendly, be open and be aware of why body language is important!