The Importance of Body Language

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Actively investing time in learning body language isn’t an obvious thing to do. Perhaps a moment ago you didn’t even know such a thing exists, so why suddenly it’s such a big deal? 

This is a very legitimate question, which I mean to answer with not one, but several good reasons to satisfy it. If you have any doubts regarding why and where to apply such knowledge – this is the read for you!

Improve Your Communication

different people showing different body languages

We are born with a very sophisticated and effective system to communicate and understand each other. It’s quite amazing, especially when you take into account that nobody actively taught us about it.

But even so, it seems that some people are just better at it. We call such people perceptive and sharp because they possess a special social awareness, they act as if they have an extra sense that allows them to know what’s going on and how to react.

Learning to understand body language is like upgrading your current system of communication. We all get the “basic kit”, but if you want to improve you need to manually grasp control and actively become more observant.

The difference between someone who knows how to read body language and someone who doesn’t is in the significance they give to nonverbal information. The non-verbal cues are present to both, but only the former knows to look for them and to trust his gut because he knows they have a meaning.

What we like to call intuition is not some otherworldly idea that appears out of nowhere; its roots are in the nonverbal channel, in things unsaid but visible to the eyes and ears.

The question is: how good is your “radar” at picking up these signals and understanding what they can mean?

So the aim is to train yourself to trust your instincts and read signals better, you may not become Sherlock Holmes, but you’ll know more than enough to get by in most interactions. It’s a social awareness – either you get it or learn to improve it.

And what about the signals you send to others?

Become More Self-aware

man smiling confidently with people behind him

Learning body language isn’t about being a passive observer; we’re not playing at being spies here. You want to know what works and how to apply it to your life.

Just by becoming more aware you instantly get much better at it, because you start to understand what you project with your own body language. You may notice some unhealthy habits or a bad self-image.

There’s a tight link between how you feel and how you act, because unless you try to fake it – your body will project what dwells within. So if you have a bad self-image, you will also project it outside, but like a feeding loop – having bad habits (such as nervous jerks or a grim face) can sustain your bad mood and nervousness.

So if you want to change the way others perceive you and the way you feel, the first step is really to get rid of bad habits and resolve your internal conflicts. You need to work on the inside Learn what stopping you from being more happy and confident in life.

It’s not easy, but admitting it is the first step, it’s hard to change if you have some heavy burden you carry around.

What I can help you with is identifying the symptoms, not the source, but the things you may project with your body and aren’t aware that slow you down.

And yet there’s another road to take – to work from the outside to influence the way you feel. I said that your feelings are linked to your behavior, so by reversing the loop you can affect your emotions. The mere acting in the way you want to feel can often impact your emotions in that direction. 

Another benefit of this approach is that if you do this right you’ll start a snowball effect, one positive feedback leads to another and before you know it you’ll be rolling in the right direction.

Others will start to take notice of your change and respond accordingly – what gives you a moral boost and the snowball continues to roll… eventually you will change without even noticing it.

Learn to Process your own Emotions

I often hear people who believe that learning body language is about manipulations and tricks, to play a role in order to get the upper hand.

Well… if you ever tried acting, you know it’s not that easy, no matter how many tricks you got there. This is actually not my goal here – I’m not here to try to change who you are or turn you into some chick magnet or whatever.

It’s not that it’s not possible, it is, but it has its price in dedication. The real question is – do you want to play a part and make people think you’re someone else… or do you want to be yourself, but equipped with better social skills?

Unless you have an ‘antisocial’ in your personal description and you want to keep it that way, I believe you have something to gain from learning body language.

I’m not here to tell you to make a makeover; we have reality shows for that. All I’m saying is that by being more perceptive and responsible to your own behavior you’re one step ahead in almost any interaction. 

Believe me, you can still have your unique and lovely personality combined with the knowledge to communicate better.

“Don’t worry… Just be yourself…” – We all heard that sentence at least once in our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes our “yourself” can be very unnatural. We all remember some moments that we didn’t feel quite right in our environment. We suddenly became very aware of our bodies and didn’t know what to do.

That’s not what I call being yourself… After all, you don’t act like having a panic attack on a daily basis, do you? Good body language is all about evaluating the situation and adjusting to feel natural and comfortable in it.

four people in a meeting

Avoid Being Manipulated by Others

You don’t need me to tell you that there are people who will try and take advantage of you if you give them the chance. So give yourself an edge when dealing with such types. Becoming more perceptive will alert you of falsehood and keep you on your toes automatically.

We all get that “gut feeling” when we feel something is wrong and someone is lying to us. Sadly, often we ignore that feeling by convincing ourselves with other “logical” explanations. That gut feeling is actually picked up by our subconscious mind, and tries to warn us that something “smells”.

So learn to listen to it, once you know why you got that feeling you’ll have a more objective mind to deal with it. It’s not always ‘right’, but at least you’ll have a better chance of knowing why.

The subconscious mind picks up many nonverbal signals you’re not actively aware of, while your conscious mind is focused more on the verbal channel. When there is a conflict between the verbal and the nonverbal channels we feel that something is wrong.

Incongruence in the messages we receive means that actions don’t match words, and lying with words is way easier than with the body. You can realize why reading body language is an important asset to police investigators. Sometimes it can even save our life

A bit dramatic but true: A lot about body language is in understanding timing and tact. You know the saying: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”? It’s the same principle. And when it comes to identifying dangerous people – it’s often reflected in their behavior, something is often ‘off’ – warning signs you shouldn’t ignore.

Keep your senses sharp, and know what to look for, you may never know when it’s gonna help.

Make Great Impression

You probably know this one already. We all try to impress on our first date and to appear our best during a job interview.

So the bad or good news, depending on how you see it, is that we have very little control over it. You may want to be open and not judgmental, but your system automatically classifies people without your permission, and it does that very quickly.

That’s a good thing basically – more often than not, it’s critical to identify with whom you’re dealing with and whether or not you can trust them.

What makes things even more complicated is that once an impression is set, it’s pretty hard to change it. Our brain dislikes the notion of changing set ideas – it makes living much harder. It is simply easier for us to believe things that support something we already know rather than change our minds about it.

These two facts combined tell us one thing – be great at first impression. And guess what’s here to help you? So make the first step right, prepare yourself.

First impressions can be changed in future encounters if we work hard enough, it won’t be an immediate change, but it can be done. Sometimes, however, we don’t get a second chance – if it’s an all-or-nothing situation, knowing how to use body language can be priceless.

Body Language is the Universal Language 

The last point is about curiosity. Because I believe that learning body language isn’t all about personal benefits, but it can also enrich your life and teach you about other cultures.

Body language is universal. We all have the capacity to understand others intuitively and share a lot of universal expressions regardless of our background – such as facial expressions. It’s a unifying notion because it’s what we call being human, to recognize something you know and feel in others.

Of course, we do have differences – different notions about personal space, customs, and gestures. Such variation is fascinating, even if you’re not an anthropologist, but as an outsider, you’ll quickly understand that your notion of what is right and obvious isn’t so in other places. 

So a lot of the material in this site is dedicated to the background of non-verbals – how they came to be and how they can be different. Allow yourself a second glance at what’s considered common knowledge and realize it’s not that simple or straightforward.

Note: The importance of body language can also be realized in communication with our pets. The animals domesticated by man thousands of years ago developed affinity and sense to read the human body language. They too, need a way to know what’s going on in their human-fellow’s head. 

Ask any dog trainer what it takes to make your dog listen to you and to understand who is the “alpha male” in the pack, and he will advise you to practice assertive and authoritative body language with it. 

man showing different emotions and body languages

On a Final Note

The term “body language” is perhaps new when presented in the pop-culture media. But its roots and principles are older than written language. 

Learning and mastering these principles isn’t a new idea, you can see its application in any field that involves working with other people. They are applied in leadership, public speaking, salesmanship, acting, law enforcement, the court of law, and many other fields.

So when I suggest learning body language – I’m not talking about some isolated or unrelated concept, but a very real and integral part of your life.

Of course, you can live a full life without thinking a minute about it, but at the same time, even a little investment can enrich you and make you a better person – because by it you get a better understanding of yourself and those around you.

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Stefan Speaks AI
Stefan Speaks AI
Articles: 787

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