When Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say,” he was referring to what we call ‘body language’. Body language is made up of the non-verbal signals that you voluntarily or involuntarily use to communicate your emotions and intentions including your facial expressions, hand gestures and posture. With research showing that 55 percent of communication comes from body language, learning how to decode it proves to be a valuable skill at your workplace and social settings.
According to a study conducted by UCLA, only 7 percent of communication is based on words we say, 38 percent is based on tone of voice and the remaining 55 percent comes from body language. Awareness about and decoding the 55 percent can give you an upper hand in any situation.
So the next time you join a meeting at office or step out on a date, look out for these cues:
We’ve all been in situations where someone just walks into a room and proves that he/she is in charge without even uttering a word leaving us gaping in amazement. Such is the power of ‘posture’. Human brain is hardwired to relate authority/power with the amount of space people take up. Standing up with your shoulders straight is perceived as a posture that reflects power/authority because it appears to maximize the amount of space you take. On the other hand, a slouching posture reflects less power.
Eyes that speak louder than words
We all know eye avoiding contact can give a negative impression to the person you are talking with. Even research backs the theory that eyes can be windows into someone’s soul if we take a really good look at them so if someone is not being honest, he/she will tend to avoid holding your gaze. But this is such common knowledge now that people often hold your gaze deliberately to conceal the fact that they’re lying. So you need to be really smart when are assessing that gaze!
Mirroring body language
If you find yourself in a situation where someone you’re talking with is copying your gestures and expressions, be rest assured that the conversation is heading the right way and the other party is open to your ideas and suggestions. Mirroring body language is an unconscious way of communicating with someone you feel a bond with.
Crossed arms and legs
Crossed legs or arms is an unconscious but revealing cue that a person is not receptive to what you’re saying. So if you find yourself in a situation where someone is smiling and nodding in agreement with you with his arms and legs crossed, don’t be fooled !
Anyone can fake a smile to conceal their true emotions. But how can you tell if a smile is real or fake? Look for the crinkles at the outer corners of the eyes. If you don’t see them, the smile is not genuine.
Fear, surprise and worry are three kinds of emotions that make your eyebrows go up. It is impossible to raise your eyebrows when you are having a friendly, relaxed conversation with a friend. So the next time someone you’re talking with raises an eyebrow in a situation that rules out fear, surprise or worry, be sure he/she isn’t comfortable with something that you’re discussing.
Nothing can reveal inward-directed stress or anxiety better than a clenched jaw, tight neck muscles or furrowed brows. No matter how normal the conversation seems, if you observe this body language in someone, you know what he/she is suppressing.