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Why Does Body Language Matter?

By: Julie-Ann Amos - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Body Language Communication Personal

Many people do not care about body language or its effects on communication and everyday life. This is not surprising, given the lack of good resources on this topic. Some are too technical and academic, while others are simply fluff or just plain misguided. It is extremely difficult to slog through what is out there and maintain much of an interest.

The effort is well worth it; however, as understanding the influence of body language is a powerful communication tool. In other words, you should care about body language because it has tremendous practical and positive applications in your daily life.

Body Language is Integral to Life
Communication is an integral part of your life, affecting everything about what you think, say, and do; and body language, of course, is an integral part of communication. How integral, you might wonder? Let's take a closer look.

Personal relationships - Body language affects and influences personal relationships, sometimes deliberately and sometimes spontaneous. Think about the last time you went to dinner with a special someone - what kinds of body language did you use to communicate affection, interest, and the like?

In the same vein, think about sitting down in a business meeting next to another person whom you do not particularly like. What kind of body language did you use to maintain a polite business demeanour without expressing levels of friendship you did not genuinely feel?

Professional and business endeavours - Body language has a great deal to do with how you perform and how you are perceived in the business world. Perhaps the most obvious application is in sales and customer service, where body language is an active part of working with clients and customers to solicit and maintain their business.

For instance, how well would you do as a customer service agent if you consistently frowned, turned away from customers, and generally showed body language indicating you really did not care?

Parenting - Body language is a huge part of parenting, both in how you communicate with your children and how you interpret their communication with you. Babies and infants obviously use a great deal of body language since they cannot speak, but so do toddlers and pre-school aged children. Have you ever seen a toddler throw him- or herself to the ground in a fit or tantrum? That is powerful body language indeed.

Teenagers are also talented purveyors of body language. They can quickly and clearly indicate their disgust with a roll of the eyes, or show interest in someone else with the tilt of a head or a coy smile.

Putting Knowledge of Body Language to Work
When you possess knowledge about body language, such as how to use it and how to understand it, you can put that knowledge to work throughout your daily life. Some typical examples might include:
  • Negotiating an agreement
  • Interviewing for a job
  • Showing friendship or intimacy
  • Group interactions
  • Conveying leadership
  • Managing employees
  • Dealing with disagreements
  • Expressing respect
  • Walking your dog
  • Walking with confidence to promote personal safety
Of course, applying your knowledge of body language is not an exact science. There are so many variables and so many influences on this aspect of communication that you cannot possibly read them accurately 100% of the time. Much of your interpretation of body language comes from your familiarity with the person or situation; your own state of mind at the time; and your general observational skills.

In the end, the more you know about body language and more proactively you apply that knowledge, the better the quality of your communications and interactions. With all of the benefits you gain from learning about body language, doesn't it just make sense to care about it as much as you care about any other part of your life?

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