When we interact, we use our words and appearance in order to convey a message or emotion to the person we are communicating with. In many cases, this is determined by content, tone, and facial expressions. However, most people are unaware of how to recognize the most important principles of true communication: body language.
Of course, there are obvious situations to detecting the hidden meaning behind a person’s body language, and in these, the person is usually aware of their actions. An example is a person who is sitting slouched with their chin resting on their palm and a glazed expression on their face. Right away, anyone can conclude that this person is bored without having to make any exceptional observations or searching for key indicators. However, body language goes far beyond the blatantly obvious, and when observed with precision, can reveal a person’s character, personality, inner thoughts, secrets, desires, or true emotions.
Of the entire body, the torso, legs, and arms impart the majority of a person’s inner state. Starting with the torso, the direction indicates whether or not someone is interested in what they are hearing. The position of the torso can also reveal the individual’s characteristics or intentions. And just like the main body, the arms and hands can place certain implications. Although the torso is generally in view during conversation, the legs take up most of a person’s body, hence also playing a key role. In addition to the legs, feet also play a major role in determining what’s behind a person’s demeanor.
In addition to the purposes aforementioned, body language can also be used to detect specific emotions or future events to come. For example, when a person likes someone, they will mimic the actions of the person they like, including posture, gestures, or direction, because reflecting someone else’s body language is a subconscious way of showing a positive connection or agreement between two people. On the other hand, hostility can be detected through a person’s jerky and slightly uncoordinated movements, an indirect gaze that reveals the whites of the eyes, and a flushed face. Finally, a person can be determined as a liar if they are tense and rigid or blink a lot less than normal. When the person has finished lying, their blinking will speed up.
There are many more ways and points of observations that can be used to read body language. However, a person’s actions do not always reveal a psychological aspect of them; in some cases, it may just be a coincidence or a meaningless action. So while it is important to be able to perceive a mood or demeanor based on clues given by body language, not all of it is applicable in every situation. But as our lives are ones based on human interaction and relationships, effective communication is a key factor to having success with others, especially when it encompasses body language.
Joyce Kim, Grade 9
La Canada High School