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Before the start of the Second World War, Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, who wanted to build a strong German empire dominating mainland Europe, was seeing a football match between Germany and Great Britain. During the match Hitler walked off in between and spoke to his close confidante, his Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels that it would be very difficult to defeat Britain in the Second World War. Hitler remarked that the body language of the England team revealed the character, the do-or-die spirit and the aggressiveness of the English nation and hence it won’t be a child's play to defeat them.
Seeing the above instance must have surely explained to you the importance of ‘Body Language’, which is an important aspect of human personality and a very powerful tool. Body language shows the strength and vulnerability of a person.
A man in the Arm Forces and a civilian, both in their casual clothes, can be distinctly marked. The upright posture, the confidence coupled with the walking style makes an army officer stand apart from the rest just because of the body language.
It is true that human beings cannot live without each other as we are social beings. As soon as we come into contact with another person we start communicating. For this we can make use of spoken and written language. Through this we put our message across very clearly. However we can also communicate without words. To make the meaning of our words clear we use body language. Thus, this is where the body language comes into foreplay.
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, while speaking in a gathering or one-on-one basis the body language reveals a man’s personality in regards to his:
•Pleasure or amusement
•Whether he means business
•Can an individual reach his goal
It is an accepted fact that body language occurs unconsciously. Yet the body language we use decides to a large extent the quality of our communication. Our body language can attract as well as repulse a person. Therefore it would be good to become conscious of our own and others' body language. We can learn to use our body language for a purpose.
Body language has different meanings in different cultures. How we can interpret body language depends on the situation, the culture, the relationship we have with the person as well as the gender of the other. This means that there is not one signal that has the same meaning all over the world. If you do not take this into account you may get yourself in some serious trouble. Body language is also interlinked with spoken language and a whole pattern of behavior from a person.
Having a positive body language is not only restricted to attending job interviews but how you fare well in your workplace. Understanding the body language of your colleagues and clients makes things easier for you.
To leave a good impression behind, it is important that we know, and to a certain extent can control, our body language. Let's say you're all set for your big interview. But before you even open your mouth, the rest of your body has already spoken volumes.
Only a small percentage of communication involves actual words: 7%, to be exact. In fact, 55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact) and 38% is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice).
When we communicate with others, we express our thoughts and feelings not only through the words we choose, but also through our tone of voice, facial expression and body language. In fact, many communications experts believe that far more information is communicated non-verbally (without words) than verbally (with words).
Body language includes many different aspects of our every day physical behaviour: the way we greet one another; how we stand, how we sit or walk; the way we position our arms and legs or use our hands and eyes are some of the most basic traits.
Body language plays a big role in intuition as it gives us messages about the other person that we can interpret at an intuitive level. It is therefore necessary to get to know our own body language first. We should learn about it so that we can recognize it in others as well as in ourselves.
For CAT aspirants and graduates who will be making their foray into the corporate world a controlled and positive body language is a must. However it is not an overnight achievement and one needs to work hard to attain a positive body language that remains calm and composed at every point of time.
The knowledge of non-verbal communication helps a manager understand the behaviour of others and thus manage his workforce effectively. It is also a useful and powerful tool for handling serious and sensitive situations tactfully. Non-verbal behaviour is more reliable than verbal expressions since it is the language of the subconscious and is therefore difficult to manipulate.
Experienced managers are alert to notice harmony or dissent in gestures (non-verbal messages sent through body language) in a group. One kinetic signal which is of tremendous importance for those in marketing and advertising is the dilation of pupils. The pupil size unconsciously increases when you see a thing of great interest—a sign to the marketing man that the product has been liked.
Counselors, therapists and recruitment consultants can use kinesics to their advantage while conducting interviews. There are many giveaways: fall of face, change of facial expression (guilt); sucking thumb, biting nails, chewing or sucking the end of a pen or piece of paper (insecurity, stress, lack of confidence); looking away while talking (unsure); touching fingertips and forming an inverted 'V' (self-confidence); maintaining eye contact while talking (confidence).
Gesture interpretation is, however, not meant to infer your intrinsic nature or personality. It should be used only to understand the behaviour, feelings or emotions of a person at a particular time. Gestures should be read in clusters of signals being received from various parts of the body.
So, if you want to know more about what people around you are really thinking here are some of the body language traits you need to know:
•During a meeting or presentation, you are being listened to intently if the listener is keeping his left hand over the right one, with his palms down. However, if the right hand covers the left one, the person is probably disagreeing with what is being said and is waiting for an opportunity to interrupt.
•In a presentation a person may also pull his earlobe at the time he is just about to interrupt.
•Unblinking eyes, looking fixedly, feet flat on floor, body tense but vertical are some gestures that show an inattentive listener who is trying to feign attention.
•Rubbing behind the ear or touching (or rubbing) the nose gently with the index finger shows dislike, doubt, uncertainty or the inability to avoid or answer a question.
•By nodding his head, the listener conveys that he is listening and encourages the speaker to go on. Rapid nods of the head, or a gentle, rhythmic tapping of the head or stomach or any other thing within his approach with the hand may mean that the listener wants the speaker to finish quickly.
•The stroking of chin or nose or pulling of beard, accompanied by an occasional narrowing down of eyes as if looking at a distance, may indicate that the person is evaluating in order to make a wise decision.
•Keeping your hands stiffly by your side or stuck in your pockets can give the impression that you're insecure—whether you are or not.
•Avoiding looking at people maybe simply because you're too busy can lead people to think you're being less than honest with them. You may be slouching because you're tired, but people may read it as a sign that you're not interested.
•People want to feel as though you are speaking to them directly or that they are the most important person in the room during your conversation. Breaking eye contact is a surefire way to break the connection.
•Don't let anything come between you and your listeners. Crossing your arms, standing behind a podium or chair, or talking to someone from behind a computer monitor is examples of blocking, which prevents a real connection from taking place.
•Stand or sit tall. Poor posture is often associated with a lack of confidence or a lack of engagement or interest. Leaning back in your chair can give the impression that you're lazy, unmotivated, or dispassionate about the position.
•Animate while you speak. This means let your hands do some of the talking. Great speakers use hand gestures more than on average.
•Unbuttoning of coat during an important discussion is a sign of openness, friendliness or willingness to reach an agreement.
The world's best business communicators have strong body language: a commanding presence that reflects confidence, competence, and charisma. They punctuate nearly every sentence with a hand gesture which showcases the importance of effective hand gestures.
Infact, dignitaries all over the world are studied on the basis of their body language. For instance: US President Barack Obama’s visit to India along with his wife Michelle Obama showcased his willingness to foster good relations with India and also his perfect chemistry with his wife during the three day visit.
A large number of people are starting to attend special sessions on controlled body behavior and take advice from expert sociologists. Learning good body language, such as living styles of people of foreign people, is important during interaction in any sort of global community.
Due to this body language experts are gaining worldwide recognition. Understanding body language is a vast subject and a book by itself. It has become a science. But it's all learnable. So work on your body language. Pay as much attention to it as the words you use, and gauge your influence.