Body Movements – An Essential Part of Communication
Did you know that some experts contend that the words you use only make up about 30% of communication? So that means about 70% of the information we convey is done through non-verbal actions. That’s the majority. These non-verbal communication techniques can include such things as the tone of your voice, facial expressions, how you make eye contact, and body movements.
Body movements are perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of communication, but they are also one of the most essential for real understanding. If you want to communicate with your peers effectively and understand them quickly, a quick study on the nature of body movements in communication is essential.
What Are Body Movements?
As you can imagine, body movements are defined as specific ways that the body can move during a conversation. They can include gestures with your hands, your posture, or even moving your entire body. A tilt of your head, or reaching out to touch someone’s arm are considered body movements. Even an “OK” sign or a “thumbs-up” gesture is a type of body movement.
It’s important to remember that body movements can be culturally specific, especially when it comes to gestures. For example, the “OK” motion in the United States speaking culture means that everything is all right, or that you agree with what is being said. However, in Brazil, that same gesture is the equivalent of giving someone the middle finger.
How Are Body Movements Used in Communication?
When we are speaking with someone, our body movements can either reinforce what we are saying. Therefore, it stands to reason that to effectively communicate; your body movements should match your words.
For example, if you wanted to tell your friend a juicy secret that they needed to keep safe, you might lean into them and keep your voice low. If your boss was disappointed in your work effort, he or she might fold their arms across their chest and look at you with a frown during your annual assessment. In both these instances, the body movements reinforce what is being said by conveying a certain emotional sense. The leaning in and whispering gives a sense of delight in a conspiracy. The crossed arms and frown shows a sense of anger and defensiveness.
Another essential thing to remember about body movements is that they aren’t always voluntary. Many people use body movements without conscious thought when talking. This unconscious use of body movements can often give clues to a person’s true feelings or intentions. In other words, if a person’s body movements don’t match what they are saying, they might not be being truthful, either with you or themselves.
Understanding the Entire Picture
Communication is a complex idea. Many factors contribute to effective communication. One of the most common and effective ways to reinforce the idea that you’re trying to convey is through the use of body movements. Also, the body movements that you see can offer a wealth of insight into the real intention and motives of your conversation partner.