Body Language Part 1: Just The FactsPosted: September 30, 2012
Body language. The very notion that our bodies are secretly communicating to each other is mysterious, sexy and intriguing. At the same time most of us walk through the world without ever being consciously aware of what exactly our bodies are saying. While body language may seem enigmatic or even bizarre, it is very real and quite reliable. The good news is that it is not all that hard to comprehend once you have the basic code. Once you do all of your interactions will take on new dimensions of meaning and you will be well on your way to much greater social acuity and effectiveness. Not only will you communicate more clearly and confidently, you will also be able to interpret the exact messages that others are sending with surprising accuracy.
Over the next several articles here at Evolution:Male I will break down body language into several more digestible subtopics that we can delve deeper into. While this series will be far from a comprehensive look at the subject, it will provide you with a strong foundation in understanding the subtleties of body language and the tools to effectively apply that knowledge into your social interactions.
Body language is the colloquial name for the science of kinesics: the study of the gestures, postures, and facial expressions a person manifests that outwardly communicate their physical, mental, or emotional state. It is only one element of our non-verbal communication, which also includes vocal pitch & inflection, speaking tempo and eye contact along with the vast umbrella of body language. While all of these elements are important cues in expressing emotion non-verbally, in our series here we will focus specifically on the body’s physical behavior, movement and orientation. (For a detailed look at eye contact check out my eye contact series.)
In order to truly comprehend the significance and pervasiveness of body language in our everyday social interactions there are certain facts that one must have awareness and understanding around…
Body Language Fact #1: You are always communicating, whether you realize it or not.
Even when you are not intentionally communicating, your body is giving you away. Because of this your body language is often the first impression and primary means people will judge you by, and they will treat you accordingly. Just as the way you dress speaks volumes about you, your body language is a channel that people can extrapolate a vast array of information about who you are and how you feel. Most people are not consciously aware of this, so they may not necessarily realize why they have a certain impression of you, but the messages are understood nonetheless. This is especially true when interacting with women. Your body language tells her the type of guy you are and whether or not she is interested before you ever say a word. For this reason it is vital to know exactly what nonverbal messages you are sending and far less important to worry about what to say.
Body Language Fact #2: Your non-verbal messages make up the vast majority of your effective communication.
Scientific research has shown that anywhere from 60% to 80% of communication is derived from non-verbal sources.* Of that number, the vast majority is specifically body language in the form of our movement, posture and stance, gestures, facial expressions and how we occupy space. While these components are highly variable and their implication shifts considerably depending on the situation, their significance isn’t really surprising. Research shows that our eyes take in 83% of the information we mentally process through our five senses during a visual presentation, whereas our ears only take in 11%. (The other three senses combined only process 6%.) Now take into consideration that your presence amongst others is a visual presentation and the value of body language over words becomes clear. This disparity is even more pronounced when mixed messages occur as people naturally default to the nonverbal communication to clarify their meaning. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
Body Language Fact #3: Your body language is directly correlated to your emotional state.
Your communication is inextricably linked to how you feel inside, specifically your confidence. If you feel confident and relaxed it will come across in your words, and more importantly, in their delivery. If you are nervous and timid however, that will also leak out. This is especially true of body language, most of which is unconsciously projected. When you feel confident you will instinctively exhibit strong, positive body language. This connection between your psychology and physiology is not a one-way street however. Similarly, when you implement confident body language you begin to feel and thus eventually become more confident! Don’t believe me? Try this experiment: the next time you are angry or depressed try to force a smile on your face and hold it regardless of how you feel. If you do you’ll soon notice that you will not be able to linger on the negative emotions and begin to feel better. Because your physiology and psychology are inseparable your brain does not allow you to maintain contrasting physical and emotional states for long periods of time. This is one reason why practicing good body language is so valuable. By working on your body language you simultaneously work on your confidence and create a cycle of continuous improvement.
Body Language Fact #4: If your body language is not congruent with your words you will not be trusted.
As I mentioned, body language is the primary channel that people use to perceive you. It is also the most reliable channel because it is difficult to fake due to its unconscious nature. When your body language is congruent with your words you automatically come off as relaxed, confident and trustworthy. Others will feel calm in your presence and enjoy being around you. On the contrary, if what you are saying and your physical presence clash you will appear uneasy and disingenuous, and as a consequence turn people off. This is especially true for women, who are more sensitive to nonverbal cues. The bottom line: no matter how good your line or story is, if you exhibit bad body language she will dismiss you as someone she is not attracted to or even want to be around and she may not even know why.
Body Language Fact #5: Women are far superior to men in perceiving small nuances in body language, vocal tone and cues and facial expressions.
Women are very empathetic creatures. Though the exact metrics vary, studies overwhelmingly show that women are far more sensitive than men at recognizing the emotions of others. We often call this intuition, but in truth there are evolved physiological differences in our brains that give the ladies their superior sensory skills. The female brain is wired to process communication in both cerebral hemispheres and has a greater capacity to see and hear detail than the male brain. Women also have up to 30% more connectivity between these two hemispheres and there is strong evidence that they have additional mirror neurons to process empathy. These features give women an acute ability to detect slight changes in appearance and behavior, to multitask efficiently, and to echo emotion, all of which enable them to accurately make quick intuitive judgments more proficiently than men. The lesson here is that your body language, even if very subtle, will not go unnoticed by a woman. Not only will she know if you are insecure, nervous or uncomfortable, she’s gonna feel it right along with you. That’s bad, because if you cannot make her feel comfortable in your presence she’ll have no desire to get closer to you. On the other hand, if you embody a calm confidence in your body language she’ll be telling her friends “there’s something about him” and want more!
In my next post we will examine the exact type of body language you need to possess in order to build attraction with women and communicate confidence in all avenues of your life. Until then, start becoming consciously aware of the body language others are projecting as well as your own, and the messages you are reading. This first step will take you a long way toward understanding the nuances and importance of your own non-verbal communication.
If you are looking for valuable personalized input to bring both your physical and psychological confidence to the next level, please inquire about my personal coaching program at firstname.lastname@example.org. With very reasonable rates and proven results I constantly strive to deliver you massive value and the tools to make the difference in your life!
*We’ve all heard the popular notion that communication is broken down to 55% non-verbal, 38% tonality and 7% the words themselves. This 55/38/7 rule is based on research done in two different studies by Dr. Albert Mehrabian in the 1960s. This also happens to be one of the most misunderstood and misquoted statistics in social science. The original studies were only based on the emotional impact of the communication, only included facial cues and only were tested on women in highly specific and artificial conditions. Dr. Mehrabian himself claims that these stats are unfair to his original findings.
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