• A Brief Introduction to Reading Body Language

    Did you know that most communication is unspoken? In fact anywhere between 55%-93% of all information we ‘say’ is with our body. In some cases body language can be more important than what is actually said during a conversation. You may not realise it, but you are constantly reading those around you. Therefore you can tailor your body language to your advantage to emphasise what you want to say.

    The Basics

    Here’s a few examples to get the ball rolling:

    • Arms folded

      – Their body language is “closed off”. They might not be interested, are bored or they don’t agree with what’s being said.body language, arms folded, angry, closed off, emotional intelligence, confidence, anxiety, stress, counselling, birmingham

    • Foot direction

      – How someone is standing or sitting can tell you what they’re really interested in. If their feet are pointed towards the door, it may be that they want to leave. Similarly the angle of their body can reveal what they really care about. For example if they’re leaning in they are usually particularly interested in what you have to say.

    • Mirroring

      – If you see two people whose body language mirrors each other, then this suggests that they like one another. Next time you’re out and about have a look around at the couples around you and see how mirrored they are.

    • Touching shoulders

      – When a man pats another man on the back or shoulder, this is often done as a sign of asserting dominance and marks the initiator as the ‘alpha’. You might even find your boss uses this to their advantage. 

    Context and Grouping

    The mistake that most  people will make when reading body language is to look at these individual signs in isolation.  Forgetting to look at the wider context can cause you to become anxious because you tend to over-analyse situations. For instance, you might think that someone who has their arms crossed is ‘closed’ and uninterested in what you have to say. But maybe it’s cold and they’re trying to stay warm. Alternatively maybe their arms are crossed whilst they lean in to the conversation. This example presents a potential conflict, but the likelihood is that you made a particularly point thats drawing their interest.

    In order to successfully put your body language reading skills to use you need to consider the context. Through always looking at the whole picture and observe clusters of signals you can make carefully considering predictions – without running away with assumptions.

    Some of us have a tendency to over-think social situations that can disrupt our lives or relationships in some way. Although it is possible to train ourselves to avoid these tendencies and live a happy, full life. If you want to know more about how to do this, get in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services now at: http://birminghamcounsellingservices.co.uk/

    Related Articles: TED Talks: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
    The Neuroscience of Empathy
    Edited by Anna Perry
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