Nonverbal communication forms a social language that is deeper than our words can ever be. Mastery of nonverbal communication can bestow unique advantages in both your personal and business life. This perhaps explains why so many life skills coaches emphasize on the important of understanding body language. As you embark on your journey to master body language so you can make your life a whole lot better, it’s important to keep the following body language facts in mind.
1. Everything is not black and white
What many body language experts don’t tell you is that everything is not black and white. Specific gestures do not have specific meanings. Rather, they are ambiguous. For instance, if someone crosses their arms, this could be construed to mean that they are signaling defensiveness. But they could also be cold, or just trying to get comfortable. As you endeavor to master body language, keep in mind that gestures should only be interpreted based on the specific circumstances. There’s no single rule that applies to all.
2. Reading facial body language can be tricky
Most adults have mastered the art of masking their true feelings, which makes the face a poor place to start with while reading body language. People need to just get along at home, at work, and in various social settings. For that reason, they are always pretending to smile, and assuming bland expressions when they’re actually pissed. For the most part, the face is a polite mask that veils our genuine feelings from the world. Understanding this can come in handy as you embark on improving your body language reading skills.
Still, the face can give away some of our strongest feelings, though what are referred to as micro-expressions. These are unexpected leakages of our real emotions that break through the mask that is the face. Such micro expressions can appear for a fraction of a second, and it’ll take you a lot of training (and practice) before you can master how to pick them up.
3. Body language signals intent
A common misconception out there is that body language signals meaning. Instead, body language conveys emotional intent, with some pretty good accuracy. Scientific studies prove that our feelings first show in the body, before registering in the conscious mind seconds later. If you’re impatient, angry, happy, or hungry, your body will to a great extent show these feelings. Thus, learning to master body language has everything to do with learning to decode other people’s intents, not specifically their conscious thoughts.
4. You’re best placed to read the body language of people you know
You’re better placed to read body language of those you know than any body language pro out there. People can easily tell when their spouse is pissed, or when their kid is bored. You can even tell when your boss needs something done by you. Since you’ve spent a lot of time with people in your close circles, you’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge on their body language signals. Nonetheless, even the people we know best may deceive us!