Monday, June 25, 2007

Body Language (Part I)

Well, All of us might be known with this terminology, "BODY LANGUAGE". And most of us also haven't give a damn about how important this language for us which we must know.As, Topic suggest, Body language is simply the language of Body, a part of non-verbal communication. There are various ways of communication , foremost is speaking, talking, writing. All of these belongs to verbal communication. "Gesturing" can also be termed as body language which is absolutely non-verbal means. What we are trying to deliver to the one whom we are communicating through verbal means might not be exactly similar to the one which we are delivering from our non-verbal means i.e. BODY. Now, we can determine the importance and power of our language continuously delivering the exactness.All of us, at some time, have seen someone talking on the phone without hearing one word of what is being said. All we can see is a constant stream of different gestures like smiles,frowns,raised eyebrows,nodes,shakes etc etc. We may wonder at the use of such gestures as the listener on the other end cant see the gestures. The easiest reason to explain it is that we would have to concentrate real hard to not gesture. Expressions and gestures are so intermingled with our words,that it would be a tough task to try and separate the words and the gestures. Through the range of facial expressions and gesticulations, we can get clues on what is being communicated on the phone, even though we can't hear the words being spoken.There are times, when one not knowing the other too well and after a phone conversation on a delicate subject with them, have felt an indefinable impression of unease and wonder what was being said between the lines. This shows that we are quite dependent on reading a person's face and body language to grasp what is actually being said.We all know there is one popular quote "FIRST IMPRESSION IS THE LAST ONE", and this quotation has also something to do with body language. When we meet to someone first time, initially with looking his/her looks, external beautiful, we will also be perceiving his/her body language simultaneously knowingly or unknowingly and out mind will decide if that person is good or bad regarding this impulse delivered to the brain by the means of eyes.That particular feeling or perception regarding that particular person is our "GUT FEELING".When it comes to first impressions and that gut feeling, we perceived about someone, most of us seem a little hesitant to follow our instincts when it results negative. Maybe its human nature to want to give the person the benefit of doubt, to believe in the good in people, even if we do not see it. Studies have shown that quite often that "gut feeling" is our subliminal or subconscious mind making a decision about trusting someone on the basis of the non-verbal cues we are picking up. On a conscious level, we might like what we see or what we hear but on the deeper level, we are aware that the person's apparent physical and verbal message contradicts what his/her body language is saying.


When one expresses his/her feelings, it has been said that.
  • 55% of the communication consists of body language.
  • 38% is expressed via the tone of voice or intonation and amazingly only
  • 7% is communicated via words.
This means that we express most of our feeling ( 93%) in a non-verbal way and our words only convey 7% of what we are saying or expressing.

Comparatively speaking, why is the role of body language so large?
First of all, we need to realize that we don't keep talking constantly. But we do give our incessant signals via our body language, when in some person's company. It is also helpful to look a the various levels on which we communicate. Most of the time, we communicate with each other on the content level and relational level.
at the same time.We put across the content of the message through words and relation through our body language.
When we are talking with another people, we talk about something, some person, some topic etc etc. We would like to clarify or make something clear to the other person about a specific subject. This is the actual content of the conversation. At this level, we tell or portray to the other person what the message is all about. Generally its very easy to express the content of message through the use of spoken language or commonly understood gestures. Due to the fact  that the meaning of words, figures or signals that we use have been agreed to unilaterally, its forum of expression don't need to bear any resemblance with what us denoted. For example, the terminology  "clock" has nothing to do with time. To understand the other person, we need to speak his language. When the words or signals that we use to put accross our message dont bear any similarity to what they denote, its called digital language.

Content and relation:

When we are communicating with other people, we can send messages on a content level and on a relational level as explained earlier. When one is communicating in content level, its about transmitting concrete and substantial information. On a relational level, its about how a message should be interpreted and about how the relationship between the people concerned. A message is often transmitted on a content level and on a relational level simultaneously.
For instance, a person can say: "Oh my god, you look like million dollars!!".
 On a content level, a comment is made about the person looking great. On a relational level this sentence can have different meanings, for example
  • What a nice dressup1
  • You have paid way too much for that dress!
  • You are looking awesome!
  •  I too would like to look like you!
  • That dress is expensive but i actually think its really ugly.
Relational Level
Through our communication, its not only the content that has to be communicated. Along with out words, we also pass on signals that indicate how we perceive the other person as well as how the message should be interpreted by him/her. At the relational level, we articulate how we are related to the receiver of the message and what the message means. Therefore, for the conveying of feelings and relations, digital language is not quite adequate. What exactly it is that we imply by our words is not simple to express only through our words. It is also very difficult to make clear our feeling about another person. Words for example can come across a lot tougher that they are meant to.
Therefore, to make our feelings and intentions clear, we prefer to make the use of an expressive language. In this manner, what we express can be established in the gesture or signals itself, without having to learn this or having to agree on it especially. For example, the gesture of pointing at your was has something to do with time. Apart from seeing what time it is on watch, we can use it to give a signal that can be understood by everyone, without having to agree on it. This is called analogue language.

Three aspects
Communication on a relational level consists of the following three aspects:
- The expressive aspect
- The relational aspect
- The appealing aspect
Expressive aspect says something about how the sender expresses himself and the impression this makes on the receiver. does he make a professional impression or is he a layman? Does he come across as reliable? Is he friendly or not? Does he have time, is he restless or does he seem to be a hurry? Is he insolent and arrogant or a polite instead?

The relational aspect says something about how the receiver regards the relation with the sender: is the position of the sender equal, higher or subordinate? Does the receiver rate the intelligence of the sender to be high or low? Is the receiver appreciative or disparaging in relation to the sense.

With the appealing aspect it is about how the content of the message is being transmitted by the receiver. The message can be transmitted in different ways: ordering, questioning,, begging or informing. 
Often, the content of the message is expressed in words and the relation with the help of body language. The intonation and the facial expression especially play a big role in this. One can just say the aforementioned sentence about the dress in different intonations and you will find that it takes on different meanings. Non-verbal communication communicates about the verbal communications. When in doubt about the truth of the message or the sincerity of the speaker, people tend to believe non-verbal communication over the verbal one. Besides the content, it is good to also get the relational aspects of the communication clear. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to address the other person or to ask him questions about his method of communicating. Like this, we do no speak about the content of the message but about the meaning behind it and its relational aspect. 


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