The role of body language in communication is truly great. Being able to understand non-verbal signs enables us to make quick judgments about other people’s friendliness, power and romantic potential.
What is body language?
Body language is an external reflection of a person’s emotional situation. Any gesture and movement can hint at an emotion or feeling that the person is experiencing at that very moment. For example, a person in a state of fear can fold their arms and cross their legs as if trying to protect themselves. Similarly, a woman that is self-conscious about her weight might smooth her dress down to make her legs look more attractive. Many politicians and public speakers use their hands to reflect the relative size of the issues they are talking about.
Reading and interpreting body language is a complex skill that is often intuitive in nature. The key to reading body language accurately, is to understand a person’s emotional condition, while listening to what they are saying; keeping in mind the circumstances under which they are saying it.
Most people are not aware of the importance of body language, despite their knowledge about the fact that most messages are revealed through body signals alone. However, there are some people who are naturally more intuitive or perceptive about others and they will excel at “reading people”, which is largely a skill of observing body language of a person and then comparing it with verbal signals that the person is sending.
All about women’s intuition
Generally, women are better at this skill than men, which is often referred as “women’s intuition”. Many women have the natural ability to pick up and interpret body signals. Also, they are usually more attentive to small details.
Interestingly, the “women’s intuition” is usually displayed in women that have raised children. This could be explained by the fact that, for the first few years a mother relies almost solely on body language to communicate with her child, as he or she will be too young and unable to do so verbally.
Research has shown that people who rely on understanding body language in communication in order to make their judgments about the behavior of another person are more likely to come up with accurate results. While women who possess intuitive ability to “read” people do so subconsciously, anyone can develop this skill on the conscious level with the right amount of training.
Can you learn body language?
There has been much debate and research to find out whether body language signals are inborn, learned or acquired in a different way. After observing gestural behavior of people who belong to different cultures, and after observing blind people (who could not learn gestural behavior by observing others), the researchers came to the conclusion that some gestures fall into each of these categories (i.e. learned and inborn). For example, a baby is born with the immediate ability to suck, which is necessary for his or her survival.
It is also interesting that despite many cultural differences, the basic signals of body language in communication are still the same anywhere in the world. People smile when they are happy, and frown when they are angry, and this is something observed in any country, no matter where it is. Nodding is a way to say “yes” is most places and is even used by blind people who couldn’t learn or observe the gesture from others.
Shaking the head is a way to say “no” and this gesture is often displayed from early childhood when a baby is still breastfed by his or her mother. When the child has enough milk, he or she would turn their head from side to side in order to say they have finished.
On the other hand, there are other body language signals that differ from culture to culture. While a particular signal could be clear in one culture due it to being very common, it could be totally meaningless or even misconstrued to a completely different culture.