Body Language Basics
From a flip of the hair to hands on your hips, how you move, gesture, and make expressions can say as much as what comes out of your mouth.
Body Language ABCs continued...
Posture. "Posture can be sign of dominance or
submissiveness," says Buck.
Shoulders back with an erect posture can be a sign of dominance, he
explains, while being slumped can mean insecurity, guilt, or a feeling of
Eye contact. "While the rules of eye-contact engagement vary from
culture to culture, in the U.S., it can mean honesty and forthrightness,"
The eyes are a powerful part of our body language cues and can express
everything from sexual interest, to annoyance, to happiness and pain, he
Playing with your hair. When a woman cups her hand, palm out, and
tucks her hair behind her ear, it can be an expression of flirting, and can
mean openness and interest, explains Wood. But be careful: It can also mean her
hair is in her eyes.
Using Body Language to Your Advantage
"If you want to better manage your own body language, you need to think
about every aspect of your day and how you behave," says Wood.
While you might think you are friendly person, if you go straight to your
office and avoid eye contact with anyone, it can send the wrong signals to your
co-workers, she explains.
Go through your morning routine -- what you do at lunch, how you spend your
afternoon and evening -- and ask yourself questions like: Do I smile? Do I make
appropriate eye contact with people? Once you better recognize your body
language, you can start to manage it in a more meaningful way.
On the flip side, how can you use the body language of others to your
advantage? Most important is to trust your gut.
"Body language says so much, that you can use it to gauge the sincerity
of what a person is saying," says Wood.
If a person is telling you something, and he's covering his mouth, he might
be lying, she explains. If a person's hands rub from his forehead down across
his face, he could be wiping away an emotion, like stress or
anxiety. Either way, if what a person is saying contradicts his body
language, your intuition might be picking up on something that is not quite
Still, whether you are trying to manage your body language better, or
understand that of others, remember the value of words.
"If you become too attentive to body language, instead of what you are
saying or someone is saying to you, you miss out on the larger process of
communication," says Buck.
Body Language Put to the Test
A basic understanding of body language, combined with verbal communication,
can come in handy in almost every situation in your daily life. Here are some
common scenarios in which body language can have a big impact, plus tips for
putting your best foot forward while you watch what others around you are
saying with their silent signs.