Monday, October 09, 2006

Bodies With Lots to Say


I once read somewhere that at least 90% of language is non-verbal. How do we communicate then if only 10% of a language is actually spoken? The simple answer is body language. In general day-to-day life we are constantly reading other people's body language. From just walking along a street and looking at passers by, we ascertain whether someone is friendly, hostile, approachable, standoffish or just indifferent. All this information is gathered and assessed subconsciously and without uttering a word.

Have you ever been in a room a shop or a park for example and spotted someone you took an instant dislike to? You don't know the person, you've never seen them before, yet as soon as you looked at them they irritated and annoyed you. You didn't like what you saw but you are totally unaware of the reason for this feeling.
The object of your irritation could be extremely attractive to lots of other people in terms of personality, looks and general demeanour, but to you - well you've already decided that you just don't like them but you don't know why.

The answer is simply that their body language is incompatible with your own. This is no-one's fault; it's just one of those quirky things that happen from time to time. The point is that all this information has subconsciously been gathered, analysed, assessed and a decision made without a word being exchanged.

Everybody at some time or other has heard comments about body language such as when someone is talking to you and they fold their arms they are subconsciously putting up a barrier. Salespeople in the belief that it will give them an edge in business and negotiations sometimes take up the study of body language or kinesics as it is often referred to. For instance, by being able to read the body language of their prospective client, they feel they are equipped to pre-empt any negative responses that may be forthcoming.

It is a matter of personal opinion as to whether you think that would work or not. One final thought to leave you with though - when someone is talking to you and they fold their arms; remember - sometimes they might just feel more comfortable that way.