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Body Language.

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Body Language PATRICK COLLISON W hen we think of human communication, what examples spring to mind? The internet? Books? The spoken word? Of all our forms of communication, one of most often forgotten (and least understood) is probably the humble art of body language: The indications we give off - generally unconsciously - by means of our posture, our gestures, our facial expressions, and even our clothes. It performs a different function to verbal language - verbal language is for communicating abstract ideas or facts. But for communicating the feelings of a person, few forms are as effective as body language. You're talking to your teacher - the class ask for a day off homework. The teacher listens to you, and says that she'll "think about it". This might sound open, but you didn't notice the steeple shape formed by the hands, or the distracted way in which she rubbed her nose. ...read more.


This goes back to basic instinct; a hangover from our animal ancestry. In the animal kingdom, there is obviously no verbal communication, and so we have grown quite adept at recognising indications given off by the body. Plenty of animals manage very sophisticated hierarchies. These are established purely by communication through bodily indications. Anyone with two or more dogs, especially, will be very aware of this. As humans, we retain this instinct, but it now takes second place to language, relegated to the realm of the subconscious mind. Body language has still had a considerable influence on our verbal language, however. Our verbal communication is littered with it - which are possibly easier to relate to. 'Shifty eyes', 'gut feeling', 'bite your lip', 'pushy' and 'get a grip' are fairly common examples. We can understand their meaning immediately, without need for explanation. It's often questioned just how instinctive body language is. ...read more.


One of the first questions we're likely to ask about body language is why so little attention is given to it, if it is truly so important. The answer probably lies in the fact that it is a mainly subconscious form of communication. We don't consciously note the expression of interest when somebody leans forward as we speak, but it still has a substantial effect on us. Society is beginning to take notice of it, though, and people are learning how to use body language to their advantage - or at least avoid broadcasting negative signals. Books are now beginning to come to the market, under the ambiguous genre of 'kinesics' (and, for the adventurous, 'olfactics' - smell). Most apply body language to professional situations, including interviews, where first impressions are vital. It's important to realise that body language complements verbal language, rather than being superseded by it. Indeed, both are but part of the same highly complex art of inter-personnel communication. It still does, and will continue to, play a very significant role in our society. Hopefully, people will now sit up and take notice. ...read more.

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