Body Language

Body Language
Have you ever felt misunderstood, or not taken seriously although your words made perfect sense? I?ve seen this happen to many people and most recently to a friend of mine. She had a perfect CV, she was very accomplished and all those who knew her swore she?d have a great career. She had several job interviews but strangely was never accepted. We all did not know why until one day she asked her mother to interview her as practice for her coming job interview. Her mother told her that she looked nervous. My friend was shocked because she was feeling very comfortable at that time, so she began to wonder why did her mother get that wrong signal, and she realized that on some level her actions were the complete opposite of her feelings. She made some research and found an article that helped her a lot. It was written by Greg Hartley, a body language expert who was an interrogator in the Army for 20 years. He stated that 85% of what you communicate is not with words. It?s through the tone of your voice, the way you sit and many other messages that the body involuntarily sends. My friend?s problem was that she was unaware of the fact that body language can contradict spoken language. Her excess enthusiasm made her energy dissipate into fidgeting, a sign of nervousness or unease. Her crossed legs created a wall between her and the interviewer. And steepling her fingers made her look arrogant.
This proves that body language is a crucial mean of communication. And in order to take advantage of it, we need to learn how to use it correctly. Today, Menna is going to show you how to make your body language and spoken language speak of the same thing and give you an exercise that will help you accomplish that. To help you even more, Noha will introduce you to the importance of mastering the use of body movements and gestures, in order to get your message through and be properly understood.

Gestures permit a degree of expressiveness and subtlety that is not possible with other aspects of non-verbal communication. They can be used in expressing amongst many other things openness, defensiveness, readiness, etc. A study conducted by Gerard Nierenberg and Henry Calero shows that gestures are even used in situations where the other person cannot see you like when making a phone call or recording a tape. Hence gestures can be a useful communication tool when people cannot speak to each other due to excessive noise or they?re in a library. As a matter of fact, you can also observe the use of gestures when two people are speaking different languages; they tend to act out the words as a convenient shorthand. However, not everything can be conveyed to others by gestures; for example try telling someone your name or where you live relying only on gestures. Pretty difficult isn?t it?!! This may seem as a change of subject but is everyone here familiar with the game charades?? well, if you have ever played this game before, you would have already noticed that nouns and verbs translate more easily into gestures than adjectives, adverbs and other words. As a matter of fact, people who master the use of body movements and gestures are more successful in this game that others. As an example, try acting out the movie ?ellemby??.how would you do it??.a friend of mine just pointed to a light bulb ?lamba? hence ?ellemby??clever right?! Serious interest in the study of body motion communication began in the late 1940s. It was then when the American researcher Ray Birdwhistell defined the term kinesics as the scientific study of gestures and other body movements. The most common body movements which seem to have a universal meaning are:
? The shrug of the shoulders: the movement of only one shoulder usually means ?take your hand off my shoulder? or ?leave me alone?. While the shrug with both shoulders conveys the message ? I don?t know? or ? I don?t care?.
? The chest can be puffed indicating pride or achivement.
? The stomach can be sucked in which either means : ? I am not as fat as I look? or ? I am really fit?.
? Steepling conveys confidence or at least a desire to make a listener one feels confident.
? Taps and twitches of the feet indicate that a person is trying to conceal some attitude or information from others and is not quite succeeding.

Another popular writer in the field of non verbal communication ?Desmond Morris? along with his team of researchers from Oxford University published a guide to the origins and distributions of 20 selected gestures from 40 places across Europe. They succeeded in identifying how commonly each gesture occurred and their meanings. Some of these gestures are:
 Fingertip kiss : shows affection in Spain France Germany and Greece, used as a form of greeting in Portugal and Sicily.
 Fingers cross: British Isles and Scandinavia used when someone tells a lie, while in turkey used to break a friendship, elsewhere used to indicate that something is good or ok or to swear an oath.
 Eyelid pull: in Germany France Yugoslavia and Turkey ?i am alert?, in Spain and Italy ?be alert? while in Austria indicates boredom.
 In Thailand touching someone?s head is a grave insult where the top of the head is considered sacred.
 In Bulgaria and Albania nodding means no and shaking your head means yes.
 To express remorse of honest in India it is done by grasping your earlobes. While in Brazil it is used to express appreciation.
 In Lebanon raising a closed fist to the air is a rude gesture, but is used as a sign of victory in Aregntina.

Regardless of the literal meanings to the gestures, we all tend to infer how someone is like from his/her body movements. For instance, when people are active with many non-verbal movements they will be rated as warm, more casual, agreeable and energetic. But when the same people are still with few movements, we tend to consider them more logical, cold and analytical. Therefore we should be observant to other people?s gestures as they can give clues to their personality and the message they are trying to get across to others.
Have you ever been in a situation in which you were misunderstood because of your body language or the way you talk??
In fact body language is a tool that if correctly used would emphasize and support your speech . However, it may contradict your words and lead to undesired impact on your audience if it is misused.
As for using body language to support what you are saying , the non verbal aspects of speech plays an important role. I mean by the non verbal aspects: the volume, tone, voice quality, rate of speaking and stress. For example:
If your rate of speaking is lowered then you?re informing your audience that what you?re saying is important and you want them to concentrate with you.
Also, if you raised your voice at a certain part of the speech, it means you are so enthusiastic about what you are saying and gives kind of motivation to people hearing you.
Moreover, sometimes non verbal aspects of speech are used to support expressing your emotions , like when you are happy you start using higher volume, sharper tone and high speed of speaking but when you are sad you use low volume, steady tone and low speed of speaking.
Although these aspects improve your speech and make audience feel you words and understand your message their overuse would lead to decreasing their effect.
Unfortunately, sometimes your body language is opposite to what you?re saying and this lead to the lack of trustiness and understanding between you and your audience.
I think such situation happened to most of us either we mean it or not. For example:
When you talk to someone in a good way and with pleasant words but your tone is tough and frosty and so it is understood that you don?t like this person or when you keep convincing someone that you?re interested in what he is saying but at the same time you keep looking around or look to other peole which automatically means that you?re not paying attention to what is said.
This is how body language contradicts spoken language and in most cases the body language is the one believed.
Scientists were wondering about laughing and its physiological effects and whether it?s a verbal or non-verbal behavior but they all agreed that it is a commonly used body language in our daily life. They even think that it makes life much better and reduce all tension. It was mentioned by Dr.William Fry, a professor at Stanford University, California,that one minute of laughter equals 10 minutes on the rowing machine which means that laughter stimulates the heart and blood circulation equivalent to any other standard aerobic exercise. Moreover, Norman Cousins stated in his book ?Anatomy of An Illness,? that ?Laughter is internal jogging.?. Therefore it is always recommended to use laughing in your daily communication whenever it?s possible.
To wrap up we can say that body language has great effect on spoken language. It?s a positive effect if you use it to support what you are saying and a negative one if it contradicts your spoken language. Don?t forget to laugh and it?s even much better if you were able to make people around laugh as well . It will help you improve your health and your entire life. Before going to the conclusion I would like to leave you with a small exercise that shows importance of body language:
after the presentation go and stand in front of the mirror try talking in any subject without using any body language(even your eyes and voice).If you were able to do so then you did a great achievement and I would be pleased to hear from you the result.
We now have realized the importance of non-verbal communication between humans , it is about 85% of total communication. Nobody can deny its importance in showing ideas and persuading feelings to assure the spoken language.
In the first part we talked about gestures and body movements and we indicated that a certain gesture can signal a certain feeling.
In the second part we illustrated the difference between spoken language and the body language and how they can contribute together. We also showed the effect of non-verbal communication on verbal communication.
Body language is a crucial mean of communication.
I want to end our presentation with a great thought. Anna Parillaud said that ?Body language is essential for an actress, even if you don?t use your body in an athletic way. Just to be free, to use it like your voice. A body can be small and have incredible violence. A body talks. ?

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