January 28, 2011

body language

how to read body language signs and gestures - non-verbal communications - male and female, for work, social, dating, and mating relationships.

Body language is instinctively interpreted by us all to a limited degree, but the subject is potentially immensely complex. Perhaps infinitely so, given that the human body is said to be capable of producing 700,000 different movements.

As with other behavioural sciences, the study of body language benefited from the development of brain-imaging technology in the last part of the 20th century. This dramatically accelerated the research and understanding into connections between the brain, feelings and thoughts, and body movement. We should expect to see this effect continuing and providing more solid science for body language theory, much of which remains empirical, i.e., based on experience and observation, rather than scientific test.

Given the potential for confusion, here are some considerations when analysing body language:

Body language also depends on context: body language in a certain situation might not mean the same in another.

Some 'body language' isn't what it seems at all, for example:

  • Someone rubbing their eye might have an irritation, rather than being tired - or disbelieving, or upset.
  • Someone with crossed arms might be keeping warm, rather than being defensive.
  • Someone scratching their nose might actually have an itch, rather than concealing a lie.

A single body language signal isn't as reliable as several signals:

As with any system of evidence, 'clusters' of body language signals provide much more reliable indication of meaning than one or two signals in isolation.

Avoid interpreting only single signals. Look for combinations of signals which support an overall conclusion, especially for signals which can mean two or more quite different things.

Many body language signals are relative.

A gesture by one person in a certain situation can carry far more, or very little meaning, compared to the same gesture used by a different person in a different situation.

Young men for example often display a lot of pronounced gestures because they are naturally energetic, uninhibited and supple. Older women, relatively, are less energetic, adopt more modest postures, and are prevented by clothing and upbringing from exhibiting very pronounced gestures.

So when assessing body language - especially the strength of signals and meanings - it's important to do so in relative terms, considering the type of person and situation involved.

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