The Power of Body Language

The Power of Body Language

Communication isn't always verbal. When you're having a conversation with a friend, you are almost certainly reacting to your friend's comments physically as well as verbally, even if you're not aware of it. Body language is usually very subtle and almost always unconscious – it might consist of a shrug, a sigh, or a shifting dow nward of the eyes. However, any one of these actions can reflect your inner feelings, and they can also make an impression on the people with whom you're speaking. These impressions are often not accurate, but they're made all the same, so y ou should work hard to make them positive instead of negative ones . If you find that your conversations sometimes go flat, try consciously considering what kind of body language you use while speaking with others. Focus on the following parts of your body and what you do with them while conversing.

1) The head

The positioning of your head probably isn't something you think too much about, but it can communicate a lot to the people with whom you speak . A bowed head may, depending on the subject matter being discussed and your relationship with the speaker, communicate submission, shyness, or boredom. If you don't want to display any of these qualities physically (and you probably don't), then make sure your head is at least raised to level most of the time when speaking with someone. You shouldn't appear stiff, but you should at least make sure that the ground is not taking up the majority of your vision most of the time.

2) The eyes

Some people say that the eyes are the "windows to the soul", due to their capacity for displaying emotion. The eyes are indeed an expressive part of the human body, and they play an extremely important role in our body language. When we speak to each other, attention is naturally drawn towards the eyes, so maintaining eye contact is an important indicator that you are giving the other person your full attention. Your eye contact doesn't have to be unbroken and intense, however. That might have the undesirable effect of unnerving the person with whom you're speaking. It's best to instead maintain casual eye contact, looking away from time to time in a natural manner.

Some people have a tendency to keep their gaze fixed on the floor or at some object in their surroundings. This kind of visual focal point might help you keep focused on the subject at hand, but it might also give the person with whom you're speaking the impression that your mind is somewhere else. Try, if you can, to keep the kind of eye contact that communicates to your friend, acquaintance, or co-worker that you're listening to and considering what they're saying.

3) The hands and arms

The movement and placement of the hands and arms also play significant parts in bodily communication. Many of us unconsciously "speak with our hands" as a way to better express ourselves. There isn't much potential for expressing negative feelings or emotions with the hands (except, of course, for the obvious gesture.) However, crossing your arms over your chest can create an impression of removal, of distance, or even of superiority, none of which you should normally want to express. The classic "crossed arms" pose is a great one to assume when lecturing or berating someone for this very reason, but in most cases, it's probably something you'll want to avoid.

4) The shoulders

While it might not seem like it at first glance, the shoulders are very expressive parts of the human body. Raised shoulders give the impression of someone who is strong, confident, or full of energy, while slumped shoulders give just the opposite impression. The same goes for the arms and back, both of which move in concert with the shoulders to some extent. If you want to display some extra confidence or show people that you're energized and prepared for the tasks ahead, keep your shoulders raised.

While all of the above suggestions should help you maintain positive physical communication, the most important rule of all is simply to always be natural. If you're very obviously not acting like yourself, you won't be comfortable, and you may make other people uncomfortable in turn. Don't raise your shoulders, puff out your chest, and keep your unblinking eyes dead set on every person with whom you speak. Body language should be subtle and mild. If you make minor modifications to your physical bearing over time and practice positive body language, it should eventually start to feel natural, and at that point you won't have to consciously think about it anymore.

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