Body language

From ArticleWorld

Body language is a powerful communication tool, but one that is usually unconscious. It is a part of paralanguage, which includes all forms of communication between humans that is not verbal.

Body language may be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary movements, gestures or poses are made intentionally and includes conscious smiling, specific hand movements and imitation. Involuntary body language is usually taken to mean the facial expressions which reflect the emotions of the person who is being spoken to.


At one time in the history of man, our ancestors did not use language to communicate but relied on signals; it may be that the body language we use is based on those same signals. Both genetic and environmental factors influence the way we use body language, both the voluntary and involuntary. The genetic influence can be illustrated by the fact that a blind child will smile even though they have never seen a smile. Some body language is universal, irrespective of culture and so must be instinctual. Other gestures such as the way to indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vary between cultures and therefore are considered to be influenced by environment.

Non-verbal communication

Body language would appear to be more important in a group situation than between two individuals. In such a situation, the non-verbal communication each individual expresses affects the dynamics of the group. Flirting is probably more about body language than what is verbally expressed. For example, if one sits with their knees facing to the side of the speaker, then it means that the listener is interested. If they are pointing in the opposite direction, however, then the speaker is wasting her or her time.

If while someone is talking, they move their hands close to their mouth or touch the nose, then it usually is interpreted to mean that they are not telling the whole truth. On the other hand, if someone shows you their palms, it is taken to mean honesty and openness.