Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously. Body language may provide clues as to the attitude or state of mind of a person. For example, it may indicate aggression, attentiveness, boredom, relaxed state, pleasure, amusement and intoxication among many other cues. It is a significant aspect of modern communications and relationships.
Body Language is therefore very relevant to management and leadership
Body Language is therefore very relevant to management and leadership and to all aspects of work and business where communications can be seen and physically observed among people.
Physical expressions like waving, pointing, touching and slouching are all forms of nonverbal communication. The study of body movement and expression is known as ‘kinesics’. Humans move their bodies when communicating because, as research has shown, it helps ease the mental effort when communication is difficult. Physical expressions reveal many things about the person using them. For example, gestures can emphasize a point or relay a message, posture can reveal boredom or great interest, and touch can convey encouragement or caution.
One of the most basic body language signals is when a person crosses his or her arms across the chest. This indicates that a person is putting up an unconscious barrier between themselves and others. However, it can also indicate that the person’s arms are cold, which would be clarified by rubbing the arms or huddling. When the overall situation is amicable, it can mean that a person is thinking deeply about what is being discussed, but in a serious or confrontational situation, it can mean that a person is expressing opposition. This is especially so if the person is leaning away from the speaker.
Disbelief is often indicated by averted gaze or by touching the ear or scratching the chin. When a person is not being convinced by what someone is saying the attention invariably wanders and the eyes will stare away for an extended period.
Consistent eye contact can indicate that a person is thinking positively of what the speaker is saying. It can also mean that the other person doesn’t trust the speaker enough to take their eyes off the speaker.
Lack of eye contact can indicate negativity. On the other hand, individuals with anxiety disorders are often unable to make eye contact without discomfort. If a person is looking at you, but is making the arms-across-chest signal the eye contact could be indicative that something is bothering the person and that he wants to talk about it. Or if while making direct eye contact, a person is fiddling with something even while directly looking at you it could indicate that the attention is elsewhere.
Boredom is indicated by the tilting of head to one side or by the eyes looking straight at the speaker but becoming slightly unfocused. A head tilt may also indicate a sore neck, trust or a feeling of safety.
Deceit or the act of withholding information can sometimes be indicated by touching the face during conversation. Excessive blinking is a well known indicator of someone who is lying. Recently, evidence has surfaced that the absence of blinking can also represent lying as a more reliable factor than excessive blinking.
Interest can be indicated through posture or extended eye contact such as standing and listening properly.
They say actions speak louder than words and sometimes we can communicate things even without the help of a single word. We can shrug our shoulders and without a word we have just said, “I don’t know.” We can raise our eyebrows and we have just said, “Excuse me? Did I hear you right?” We can turn our hands over palms up infront of us to say, “I don’t know what else to say. That’s all I’ve got.” And we can point to our nose to indicate that the other person’s “got it right!”
Body language may be the determining factor in a job interview. If the applicant’s body language conveys that he is at ease with the subject matter and conveys confidence, he has a higher probability of getting the job especially in this tough job market. We talked earlier about the fact that some body language is interpreted as being uncomfortable and out of control. These are some of the traits that make a job applicant appear less than confident and comfortable as well.
-G. Siri Reddy