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How To Understand Body Language And Facial Expressions

Have you ever found that the gestures on a person’s face do not always match the words that come out of their mouth? Only a tiny proportion of human interaction is focused on spoken words, while the remainder occurs via body language. If you can understand body language, you would be able to greatly enhance your ability to communicate. You can learn how to interpret body language and facial expressions, hand movements, and body positions relating to people’s emotions as well.

More than just the terms we use, contact is made up of more. It’s keeping eye contact with the person you’re talking to, reclining on a video call, or moving your hand while you speak.

Non-verbal signs such as voice tone, movements, and posture all play their role. We describe what body language is in this post and interpret it to understand and interact more effectively with people.

What is body language?

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication that deals with how facial expressions and body movements are used to convey people’s true feelings.

Body language is the unspoken element of communication that we used to reveal our true feelings and emotions.

Body language examples from difficult conversations

An inconvenient fact of life is tough discussions. Maybe you’re dealing with a rude client, giving negative feedback to an employee, or negotiating a contract.

Situations such as these are often complicated by feelings of anger, stress, or even nervousness. Though we may try to hide them, these emotions often show through in our body language.

People are likely to be disengaged, disinterested or unhappy if anyone shows one or more of the following behaviours:

The importance of non-verbal communication

Your non-verbal communication signals tell the person you communicate with whether you care or not, whether you are honest, and how well you listen, the way you listen, look, move, and react.

5 Functions can be performed through body language

Repetition

It repeats the message you are making verbally and also reinforces it.

Contradiction

It can contradict the message you are attempting to express, thereby implying that you may not be speaking the truth to your listener.

Substitution

It can replace a message with a verbal one. For starters, a much more vivid message is often expressed by your facial expression than words ever can.

Complementing

It will add to your verbal message or complement it. As a manager, it will improve your message’s effectiveness if you pat an employee on the back and provide praise.

Accenting

A verbal message can be accented or underlined. For example, pounding the table will underline the value of your message.

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Types of body language

The several distinct forms of body language or non-verbal contact include:

1. Facial expressions

The human face is incredibly expressive, willing, without saying a sound, to communicate countless emotions. And facial expressions are universal, unlike some types of non-verbal communication. The facial expressions of happiness, sorrow, rage, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. Learn more about facial expression from here.

2. Body movement and posture

Consider how the way you sit, walk, stand, or keep your head affects individuals’ views. A wealth of knowledge is transmitted to the world by the way you walk and handle yourself. Your posture, bearing, stance, and the subtle gestures you make comprise this form of non-verbal communication.

3. Gestures

Gestures are woven into the texture of our everyday lives. When arguing or speaking animatedly, you can wave, point, beckon, or use your hands, sometimes expressing yourself with gestures without thinking. The sense of certain gestures may, however, be very distinct across cultures. 

For example, the “OK” sign made by hand typically conveys a positive message in English-speaking countries, in countries such as Germany, Russia, and Brazil, it is considered offensive. So, to prevent misinterpretation, it’s important to be cautious about how you use gestures.

4. Eye contact

Since in most people, the visual sense is dominant, eye contact is a particularly important form of non-verbal communication. Like interest, love, hate, or attraction, many things can be conveyed by the way you look at others. In maintaining the conversation flow and determining the other person’s involvement and reaction, eye contact is also important.

5. Touch

Via contact, we interact a lot. For example, think about the very distinct signals provided by a weak handshake, a warm bear hug, a patronizing pat on the head, or a controlling grip on the arm.

6. Space

During a conversation, did you ever feel awkward because the other person was standing too close and invading your space? We all need physical space, but, depending on the community, the situation, and the relationship’s closeness, the need varies. You may use physical space to transmit non-verbal messages, including signs of intimacy and affection, hostility or domination.

7. Voice

It’s not only what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it. When you talk, in addition to listening to your words, other people “read” your voice. Things they pay attention to include your pacing and rhythm, how loud you speak, your tone and inflection, and sounds that express comprehension, such as “ahh” and “uh-huh.” Think about how your voice tone can indicate sarcasm, anger, love, or trust.

Why is understanding body language important?

In any situation, understanding body language can help you communicate better. Here are some examples of concrete ways that body language knowledge will help you:

5 Ways to read positive body language

When somebody is relaxed and interested in your conversation, interpreting constructive body language lets you see. Here are five examples of good signs of body language to watch out for:

  1. 1. Notice ample contact with the eyes. Although avoiding eye contact and offering too much eye contact may also have negative effects, if someone retains enough eye contact with you for a few seconds at a time, it indicates that they have a genuine interest in talking to you.

  1. 2. Acknowledge a healthy posture. It conveys strength and authority when someone sits or stands in an upright, erect position and maximizes the amount of physical space people’s entire body occupies and probably indicates that they are ready to participate in the conversation.
  1. 3. Note firm handshakes. If someone shakes your hand and the grip is properly strong, it means that they are trying to convey a sense of poise and trust. On the other hand, a poor handshake may indicate nervousness and an excessively strong handshake may signal deliberate violence.
  1. 4. Beware of real smiles. Anyone can force a false smile to mask unpleasant emotions, but thankfully there is a way to see if a person is genuinely happy to smile: a genuine smile can wrinkle the skin in the corner of their eyes, forming a pattern of crow’s feet. If you can spot this, you will know that the other person likes talking to you.
  1. 5. When anyone stands next to you, pay attention. The emotional distance is a good sign that people are relaxed with you if a person sits or stands close to you.


It is a valuable skill to learn to interpret others’ positive body language signals, but don’t forget that you can also use these signs yourself to improve your own words and make a positive impression.

5 Ways to read negative body language

Detecting negative body language signs will help you avoid awkward confrontations and turn poor conversations into positive ones. To watch out for, here are five examples of negative non-verbal mannerisms:

  1. 1. Note that too much eye contact happens. When lying, individuals often avoid direct eye contact, liars often attempt to offset this by holding eye contact for too long. If you catch someone holding excessive eye contact with you, there is a risk that they are not honest.
  2.  
  1. 2. Pay attention to arms or legs that are crossed. Even if someone gives you a positive verbal message, crossing their arms or legs means that what you’re saying may make them disinterested.
  1. 3. Watch for excessive nodding. There can be a few different meanings for too much head-nodding: either the person you’re talking to needs you to stop talking and give them a turn to speak, or it may also mean that they lack confidence around you and are worried about how you view them.
  1. 4. You should notice furrowed brows. This micro-expression, recognized by wrinkles in the forehead and the eyebrows moving closer together, signifies negative feelings like confusion or uneasiness being experienced by someone.
  2.  
  1. 5. For fidgeting, keep an eye out. If someone makes lots of small, nervous hand movements or is fooling around mindlessly with their clothes or nearby items, it probably means they are disinterested in what they hear.
  2.  

Diploma in Body Language will help you to understand body language to create positive professional and personal relationships. To communicate in more powerful ways, you need to learn different body language types and their meanings. You can improve your body language in communication like a pro.

Body language examples for effective public speaking

Positive body language will help you talk in public to engage people, mask any presentation nerves, and project confidence. To help you do this, here are a couple of tips:

Pro-tip:

If you detect a decrease in focus in your audience, lean forward slightly as you talk. The process means that you are bringing the audience into your confidence and helping to recover their focus.

Diploma in Body Language

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Body language for interviews and negotiations

In circumstances where emotions run high, such as a negotiation, performance appraisal or interview, body language may also help you remain calm. To defuse stress and show transparency, follow these suggestions:

Virtual body language

Many of the above body language instructions can be extended to video calls, too. You’re just going to have a little less room-and body-to deal with! Here are some ways to demonstrate your excitement and help make the call participants feel relaxed and open to your thoughts:

Get your camera set upright

  • This means that you are close enough to show interest, but not too near to disrupt people’s virtual space. And without reaching the computer, leave space for gestures!

Tidy your workspace or find a quiet area for your video call

  • That way, distractions that could take the attention off the attendees would be reduced.

Maintain eye contact

  • Look at the camera as if you were staring into the eyes of someone. If it’s a group called, looking around the participants without staring will encourage you to gaze.

Use facial expressions

  • Your face is on a video call at the front and centre, so keep a small smile throughout. To show commitment, raise your eyebrows, and stop frowning.

How do you use your body language?

A good general guide for reading body language is the tips given in this post, but they won’t apply to everyone. 

For instance, people might have a different cultural context than you, and in others, positive gestures in one county may be negative.

So, think about how your body language is used to stop making assumptions! When someone presents you with mixed signals, ask them what they’re thinking. Interpreting body language should, after all, be a supplement to communicating and listening attentively, not a substitute for it.

Key points to ponder

Wrapping up

Our bodies say a lot more during conversations than what we say with our voices, so learning how to read and interpret body language and facial expressions are important. 

Body language comprehension will increase your interpretation of the meaning that others are trying to convey and improve your ability to communicate effectively.

Maybe you’ve experienced more than one emotion or feeling. Several of the body language signals may be shown, so the best way to interpret body language correctly is to look at various signals that your body may send and the meaning of what they mean verbally.

Diploma in Body Language

Learn how to use body language to create positive professional and personal relationships.
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