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Introduction to Body Language

Why body language matters in the real world.

Introduction to Body Language

Communication is said to be 20% verbal and 80% non-verbal. If you are saying something to a person but your body language says the opposite then you are not getting your message across.

This section is designed to help you to maximize your own communication skills, whilst at the same time assist you in understanding that of others.

Whilst we will deal with different aspects of body language, you will find that many areas overlap.

Consider this:

A friend you haven't seen for a long time greets you in the supermarket, asking how you are. You've just had a row with your partner, almost knocked down a pedestrian who shot over the road; you also had a massive tax bill this morning and have been awake all night with indigestion. You growl to your old friend - 'I'm fine, how are you?'

Now obviously you're not fine, your shoulders are hunched and a smile is the last thing on your mind. This friend hasn't seen you for ages and knows nothing about your problems, but immediately thinks you don't want to chat, or perhaps you're angry at him for not making contact - he makes an excuse that he's in a hurry and rushes away.

What was wrong with that meeting? Clearly you couldn't help all that had happened before and it's understandable that you were feeling fraught - but your friend didn't know all that - all he saw was a total contradiction when you affirmed that you were okay and body language that told him that you weren't.

Now if they were going to answer your question (how are you?) how likely would you think they would be to confide in you that they haven't been in touch recently because their mother had passed away, or they'd been ill? After all, you clearly didn't trust your friend enough to be honest about what you'd been going through - in fact you were too wrapped up in your own thoughts and feelings to make any attempt at conversation.

Miscommunication happens all the time - when the actions and words of the communicator don't match; that's why it's essential that anyone who wants to become an effective communicator and improve their relationships, whether at work, home or in a social setting, should be aware of the messages they're sending out to people.

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