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© 2018 by Look Beyond Words.

  • Candace Ginn

How Can Body Language Help You?

There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about body language and it's practical use. This is in part due to television, of course. This series inspired me in 2009. It is based on Dr. Paul Ekman who actually helped discover and map out over 10,000 facial expressions. Yet, even this series includes myths about body language.

Practical Uses for Body Language

Science has proven through thousands of studies just how impacting body language is in everyday life. When we meet or even see someone for the first time, we subconsciously make many judgments about them. Are they a safe person to be around? Do they mean me harm? Are they competent? Do they have a warm personality? Are they likeable? Would I hire this person? Are they insecure? Do they exhibit strength or weakness? Are they worth talking to?

It's crazy to think that we are actually sizing people up like this. It's even crazier that we do it within 15 seconds of seeing them for the first time. This, again, is not an act that we are even aware of. It happens very quickly and subconsciously. This, of course, is the first impression and why people spend time in the business world learning to maximize their effort/potential in this area.

The skill of reading body language is exceptionally helpful in understanding people's emotions. People have a tendency to say the opposite or minimize what we are truly feeling. The ability to know the difference and spot the inconsistencies can help in any type of relationship including social, business, and even romantic interactions. Knowing how to respond to true emotions can deepen connections and minimize conflict. This is vital as a manager, to be able to understand how to motivate individual employees. Find out what kind of assignments they really thrive on instead of relying on them to tell you. This can be so helpful for those employees who tell you what they think you want to hear. Also, there are times when people just don't know what they want. However, their emotions about a subject can give away vital clues.

Knowing your own body language and the nonverbal messages you are sending can make a huge difference in how people perceive you. Studies have shown that we can predict with great accuracy which doctors have the greatest number of malpractice suits. Surprisingly, it has very little to do with their actual skill level and has everything to do with their bedside manner, more specifically, their vocal tone. How people perceive their personality through their vocal tone can actually determine how often they will be sued. This is crazy to me, yet, our perception of human behavior plays a major role in the decisions we make about others every day. What signals are you sending out and what do they say about you?

Myths About Body Language

Most myths come specifically from lie detection methods. If you have ever learned about body language or watched any fictional shows about it, you have probably heard that someone is lying if they look up and to the right with their eyes. The premise behind this is that the right side of the brain is our creative side. Looking up and to the right supposedly indicates that we are creating/making something up. This is completely false. First of all, lie detection is different for each individual and requires assessing a baseline for each person. There are many scientific factors that go into determining a lie, never just only one.

Another myth regarding lie detection is the element of someone itching their nose. While this may be one factor among others that may prove someone is lying, it can never be taken by itself as proof of anything. When we lie, it causes physiological changes in our body that are near impossible to control, including causing our nose to itch. Of course, there are many reasons why someone's nose may itch such as allergies. Always air on the side of caution and not assumption. This helps to increase accuracy and maintain healthy relationships.

Most people do not realize how powerful body language is and lean toward believing it's unnecessary or some kind of scam. The truth, however, is that everyone uses body language everyday of their lives. It's impossible to get away from and it impacts others more than most understand. In fact, it is a vital part of our communication. Studies prove that body language accounts for a minimum of 60% of our communication. It has more weight than the actual words we say! Used together, however, gives us the ability to use 100% of our communication tools. Who wouldn't want to increase their communication skills and better their relationships?

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