Monday, 14 August 2017

What Your Body Language Says About You

Body language is often thought of and referred to being a way to show someone that you are attracted to them or to figure out if they are attracted to you, however the way that you hold yourself is more than for physical attraction. It is employability, confidence, comfort and many more things in your everyday life that you would not initially expect your body language to effect.

The way that you hold and present yourself to others can completely change what they think of you, you can seem more professional, more comedic, more relaxed. Your body language can say whatever you want about you and it is always an asset to know what you are revealing to others. When used appropriately strong body language can make you more approachable to others, more employable and can even help to motivate yourself and others.

Your body language can have a large effect on your life, in both business and personal life it is very important to consider your body language. We spend our lives learning how to understand other peoples behaviour but never our own body language. When you want to show other people how you are feeling in a more subtle way than speech then the use of body language can be a very positive and social practice when used appropriately, this isn't always easy to do, especially if you are not a particularly emotive person however this is an easier way to express the way you feel without oversharing or can even be a way to further emphasise something that you are discussing. 

  • Head

One of the most well known forms of body language is eye contact. It shows others when you are interested and focused as well as being able to show so many other emotions. When having a conversation with someone eye contact is very important because it can reveal your interest or disinterest in the topic you are discussing. Too much eye contact however can make the other person feel uncomfortable because extended or forced eye contact is considered an overcompensation of interest, however too little and you will seem disinterested also, it is all about finding a balance. 

Excessive blinking is normally considered a sign of lying, however it can also mean that you feel uncomfortable, nervous or worried. When talking to someone, try to focus on their facial features, look at their expression and you will find yourself distracted from your own nervousness whilst still remaining engaged in conversation. Smiling can also help with this as it will make you seem much more welcoming and confident so that overtime the nerves and worry will not be part of your focus. When you are truly smiling your eye muscles are engaged, therefore you will not blink as much or as fast. On the other hand, smiling with only the lips can be a very recognisable sign that the smile is insincere and can also be considered a sign of lying as it is a forced and compensational expression.

When you are having a conversation with someone have you ever noticed yourself touching your hair? This is a combination of nerves and flirtation, it brings attention to your facial features and neck which highlights the feeling of attraction. Touching the face is similar to the nerves associated with touching the hair however it also represents a heightened activity of the mind and shows interest in the subject, this can be applied to both professional and personal situations. Touching your nose is a very different form of body language in comparison to touching the face because it is an indication of lying. When someone is lying they produce more adrenaline and a side effect of this is an itching sensation in the nose, this does not mean that every time someone scratches their nose they are lying but it is the action that is mostly associated with not being truthful.

Showing interest with head movements is a very popular form of body language that is universal. Tilting your head is a very common sign of being considerate and counselling someone however the real reason why it is such a popular sign is because with the movement you are angling your ear towards the person you are talking to and this makes you appear much more attentive. Raising or furrowing your eyebrows can be both positive and negative as it is a true expression of peaked interest as well as confusion, when talking to someone you will often see their eyebrows raise which shows curiosity and interest in what you are saying whereas lowered eyebrows indicate fear, concern and confusion. Usually if you are not interested in a subject your face will remain unanimated and still. 

Nodding is another head movement that is understood by most people and can be used to communicate with others. Surprisingly the amount you nod shows how engaged you are, for example, if you nod in clusters of three it shows that you are interested and eager and will encourage more from the speaker, however if you nod only once it shows that you are relatively uninterested and this could cause the conversation to slow. Nodding once and averting eye contact shows either an understanding that a mistake has been made or that there is a complete lack of interest in the conversation, if it is a response to a mistake then it is normally considered a guilty response when lowering your gaze as it shows a vulnerability that is often seen with children and it usually encourages a parental response from others.

  • Body

Facial expressions aren't the only way to show emotions. The way you stand and the way you move your body can show off your personality and make a lot of changes to the way that you feel about yourself. Standing straight with your head up shows confidence and power, when you stand straight you are making yourself taller and more dominant which will give you an air of leadership. A development on this is standing with your legs apart which shows the same confidence however it also signals determination and is normally a form of body language that is used during an argument as a way to literally stand your ground. 

Sitting with your legs tightly crossed presents to others a closed view of yourself, as though you do not want to interact with others and would prefer to remain isolated. However this does not mean that you should slouch and splay your legs out carelessly in front of you as it will tell others that you are lazy and not capable of being professional. The goal is to find a balance, sit comfortably with your back straight and allow for your legs to relax so that you do not look too stiff, by sitting like this you will appear professional whilst still being approachable and friendly. 

When you stand do you often find yourself shifting your weight from one leg to another? If so this is normally a sign of being anxious or upset, the swaying motion is a way to comfort the anxious feelings and is a reflection of the mind shifting between thoughts. Crossed arms are normally paired with this stance as they usually represent anxiety, boredom or anger. One of the many ways to overcome this is to stand with your arms relaxed by your side or sit with your hands on your lap, you can replace the weight shift with crossing the ankles.

Slouching is one of the most well known negative parts of body language, it shows insecurity and a complete lack of confidence. When you slouch, you can look uncomfortable and in a bad state of mind which could cause people around you to show concern even if you feel fine. If you stand straight with your shoulders back then you will give the impression of being confident and in control. A constant sagging of the body tells others that you don't feel very good about yourself and could cause health problems with curving of the shoulders and problems with the disks and vertebrae in the spine. A good posture doesn't just make you more approachable now, it makes you more comfortable in the future. Leaning however, is not the same as slouching, you lean towards the people you like and pull away from those you don't, you can maintain an air of confidence when leaning in comparison to slouching that is unflattering overall.

  • Hands/Feet

Your hands and feet can reveal a lot about how you are feeling because they are usually the parts of our bodies that we fidget. When you shake or tap your feet it shows that you are anxious to leave, you want someones attention or you are in a hurry but you don't want to seem rude. It is a way of signalling that you are feeling pressured without yelling or engaging in conflict. Tapping your fingernails also represents this but a lot of people also use fingernail tapping as a way to concentrate on something which eventually becomes a habit that can go unnoticed. 

When thinking about body language hands are not always the first thing to come to mind, moving your hands whilst talking is very common and is simply a way to further express the subject that you are discussing however the way that you position your hands can give others a subconscious impression of you. Open your hands, this symbolises trust and being open to new ideas whereas closed hands or palms down shows that you are not flexible and can be very closed off. Hiding your hands by placing them in your pockets or holding them behind your back indicate signs of deceit and mistrust, instead use hand gestures when talking to someone as it shows energy and warmth as well as an interest in the conversation.

Picking at fingernails or messing with fingers is a sign on low confidence and timidity. Picking makes someone seem very nervous and vulnerable which is not something that most people want to advertise. Try holding your hands in a different position or holding something to keep yourself from picking, this will also help to make you appear more self assured.

Your body's actions, consciously and unconsciously, reflect your mental state and learning to control your body language can be very effective on your life and the ways that other people view you. It is always good to remember that during this time you do not need to make yourself feel worse about your body language, you can just work on finding ways to control it.

Every gesture, from a head tilt to a smile, tells a story. It is your turn to decide what you want to say.

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