The Importance of Body Language In Communication

Part 2

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We continue with the top reason to consider learning body language to communicate better:

4. Avoid Being Manipulated by Others

You don't need me to tell you that there are people who will try and take advantage of you, if you give them the chance. So give yourself an edge when dealing with such types. Becoming more perceptive will alert you of falsehood and keep you on your toes automatically. We all get that "gut feeling" when we feel something is wrong and someone is lying to us. Sadly, often we ignore that feeling by convincing ourselves with other "logical" explanations. That gut feeling is actually picked up by our subconscious mind, and tries to warn us that something "smells".

So learn to listen to it, once you know why you got that feeling you'll have a more objective mind to deal with it. It's not always 'right', but at least you'll have a better chance knowing why.

The subconscious mind picks up many nonverbal signals you're not actively aware of, while your conscious mind is focused more on the verbal channel. When there is a conflict between the verbal and the nonverbal channels we feel that something is wrong. Incongruence in the messages we receive means that actions don't match words, and since lying with words is way easier than with the body... You can realize why reading body language is an important asset to police investigators.

Sometimes it can even save our life

A bit dramatic but true: A lot about body language is in understanding timing and tact. You know the saying: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue"? It's the same principle. And when it comes to identifying dangerous people – it's often reflected in their behavior, something is often 'off' - warning signs you shouldn't ignore… Keep your senses sharp, know what to look for, you may never know when it's gonna help.

5. First Impression Leaves Big Impression

You probably know this one already. We all try to impress on our first date and to appear our best during a job interview.

So the bad or good news, depends on how you see it, is that we have very little control over it. You may want to be open and not judgmental, but your system automatically classifies people without your permission, and it does that very quickly. That's a good thing basically – more often than not, it's critical to identify with whom you're dealing with and whether or not you can trust them.

What make things even more complicated is that once an impression is set, it's pretty hard to change it. Our brain dislikes the notion of changing set ideas - it makes living much harder. It simply easier for us to believe things that support something we already know rather than changing our minds about it.

These two facts combined tell us one thing - be great at first impression. And guess what's here to help you...

So make the first step right, prepare yourself.

First impression can be changed in future encounters if we work hard enough, it won't be an immediate change, but it can be done. Sometimes, however, we don't get a second chance - if it's an all or nothing situation, knowing how to use body language can be priceless.

6. It's the Universal Language 

The last point is about curiosity. Because I believe that learning body language isn't all about personal benefits, but it can also enrich your life and teach you about other cultures.

Body language is universal. We all have the capacity to understand others intuitively and share a lot of universal expressions regardless of our background - such as facial expressions. It's a unifying notion, because it's what we call being human, to recognize something you know and feel in others.

Of course, we do have differences - different notions about personal space, customs and gestures. Such variation is fascinating, even if you're not an anthropologist, but as an outsider you'll quickly understand that your notion of what is right and obvious isn't so in other places. 

So a lot of the material in this site is dedicated to the background of non-verbals - how they came to be and how they can be different. Allow yourself a second glance at what's considered common knowledge and realize it's not that simple or straightforward.

Note: The importance of body language can also be realized in the communication with our pets. The animals domesticated by man thousands of years ago developed affinity and sense to read the human body language. They too, need a way to know what's going on in their human-fellow's head. 

Ask any dog trainer what it takes to make your dog listen to you and to understand who is the "alpha male" in the pack, and he will advise you to practice an assertive and authoritative body language with it. 

On a Final Note

The term of "body language" is perhaps new when presented in the pop-culture media. But its roots and principles are older than written language. 

Learning and mastering these principles isn't a new idea, you can see its application in any field that involves working with other people. They are applied in leadership, public speaking, salesmanship, acting, law enforcement, the court of law and many other fields.

So when I suggest learning body language – I'm not talking about some isolated or unrelated concept, but a very real and integral part of your life.

Of course, you can live a full life without thinking a minute about it, but at the same time, even a little investment can enrich you and make you a better person – because by it you get a better understanding of yourself and those around you.

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