Human Body Language

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Human Body Language When we think of human communication, what examples spring to mind? The internet? Books? The spoken word? Of all our forms of communication, one of most often forgotten (and least understood) is probably the humble art of body language: The indications we give off - generally unconsciously - by means of our posture, our gestures, our facial expressions, and even our clothes. It performs a different function to verbal language - verbal language is for communicating abstract ideas or facts. But for communicating the feelings of a person, few forms are as effective as body language. You're talking to your teacher - the class ask for a day off homework. The teacher listens to you, and says that she'll "think about it". This might sound open, but you didn't notice the steeple shape formed by the hands, or the distracted way in which she rubbed her nose. Unimportant? Certainly not. You've probably been given an answer already, whether you've realised it or not. It is one of the most powerful forms of communication; very few people will ignore or not notice signs of anger or stress. Lord Chesterfield probably said it best in Letters to his Son when he intoned that "learning is acquired by reading books, but the much more necessary learning, The knowledge of the world, is only to be acquired by reading men, and studying all the various editions of them." How important is body language? Interestingly, studies have shown that we give more weight to the messages given off by a person's body than to what is said. If somebody claims to be interested, while simultaneously staring off into the distance and twiddling a... ... middle of paper ... ...mebody leans forward as we speak, but it still has a substantial effect on us. Society is beginning to take notice of it, though, and people are learning how to use body language to their advantage - or at least avoid broadcasting negative signals. Books are now beginning to come to the market, under the ambiguous genre of 'kinesics' (and, for the adventurous, 'olfactics' - smell). Most apply body language to professional situations, including interviews, where first impressions are vital. It's important to realise that body language complements verbal language, rather than being superseded by it. Indeed, both are but part of the same highly complex art of inter-personnel communication. It still does, and will continue to, play a very significant role in our society. Hopefully, people will now sit up and take notice.

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