Communication which includes body movements, such as gestures, facial expressions, eye movements, and postures is known as body language, it is a very personal way of expressing yourself without words. One's body language can carry a whole conversation without even saying a word. Sign language is an excellent example of this, another example would be when you talk with people nervously, you may continually shake your hands. If people pay attention to your hand, they may understand your body language.
One can spend their whole life communicating only with there body. Still one can be able to understand exactly how people are trying to express themselves. Speaking and body language goes hand to hand, without gestures when talking one cannot truly explain certain things to someone. Also there is no visual effect for the person listening. When there is sound as well as some kind of visual movement one is more interested in what someone is trying to say. Through body language one can tell if a person is sad or happy, glad or mad. Body language conveys a lot of expression to are inner feelings and thoughts.
Body language can show many things about you and the way you think. It can also show the way a person reacts to what you try to convey to them. If the listener isn't responding one must try and change the topic without losing the listeners focus. One can only know this threw the listener's body language. Body language is essential to a good way of showing and conveying ones' ideas.
There are ways in which communication through the body takes place here are some of them described briefly:
Eye contact: This helps to regulate the flow of communication. Our interpersonal relationship is affected by how we use our eyes. Most individuals use the eyes to see who they are with so that they can adapt their behavior. People who make eye contact open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern, warmth, and credibility. Culture and co-culture memberships modify how much eye contact we may engage in and with whom (prolonged gaze versus avoidance).
Facial Expressions: People are more likely to interpret facial expressions accurately if they interpret them within the entire communication context. Facial expressions can be individualistic and do not necessarily convey cultural meanings with which we are familiar (smiling in Japan to hide sorrow). Some facial expressions are thought to be universal (smiling, joy). The display and intensity of emotion is culturally based. For e.g. smiling is a powerful cue that transmits happiness, friendliness, warmth, and liking. So, if you smile frequently you will be perceived as more likable, friendly, warm and approachable. Smiling is often contagious and people will react favorably. They will be more comfortable around you and will want to listen more.
Gestures: If you fail to gesture while speaking you may be perceived as boring and stiff. A lively speaking style or use of gestures captures the listener's attention, makes the conversation more interesting, and facilitates understanding. Many gestures are culture bond and susceptible to misinterpretation.
Posture and body orientation: You communicate numerous messages by the way you talk and move. Standing erect and leaning forward communicates to listeners that you are approachable, receptive and friendly. Interpersonal closeness results when you and the listener face each other.
Speaking with your back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling should be avoided as it communicates disinterest. Postures can indicate self-confidence, aggressiveness, fear, guilt or anxiety.
Proximity: Cultural norms dictate a comfortable distance for interaction with others. You should look for signals of discomfort caused by invading the other person's space. Some of these are: rocking, leg swinging, tapping, and gaze aversion.
Vocal: Speaking can signal nonverbal communication when you include such vocal elements as: tone, pitch, rhythm, timbre, loudness, and inflection. For maximum teaching effectiveness, learn to vary these six elements of your voice. One of the major criticisms of many speakers is that they speak in a monotone voice. Listeners perceive this type of speaker as boring and dull. For e.g. think how many ways we can say "no" - you could express mild, doubt, terror, amazement, anger etc.
Appearance: When we look at the person for the first time we make judgments about people based on how attractive or not so attractive we think they are and how they dress (casual/formal/ritual/folk). Standards and judgments regarding attractiveness are subject to cultural variations. Clothing helps us understand the messages and values of a person and how does he feel about life, work and other things. Like for e.g. if the dress code in a particular factory is a uniform and anybody comes without one will be easily noticeable and other people will start judging him regarding the way he feels about life, work etc.
Advantages of Body Language
- Physical visibility of body language can be a great advantage, as the receiver can easily understand it.
- Body language and verbal communication goes hand in hand and with the help of body language verbal communication can be enhanced with help of facial expression, eye contact, gestures etc. It is very spontaneous form of communication
- Body language makes communication interesting for e.g. if a person is cold and has no expression on the face or no eye contact with the receiver then the message conveyed becomes very boring and dull
- Everybody cares for body language so it goes long way in improving the overall environment of the organization.
Body language talks; sometimes more clearly then the words we say. If anybody has had the experience of trying to communicate with someone who does not speak the same language, and when the person is forced to get the message through gestures and facial expression, it is then understood how powerful body language can be.