The 8 Aspects of Body Language
Nearly all body language behaviours and non-verbal cues include one or more of eight primary elements. It is these elements alone or in combination, that communicate so powerfully to the people around you. Some might be quite familiar to you, while others might be a bit more surprising. Regardless, as you read through this article you are almost guaranteed to think of many examples of how each element appears in your own non-verbal communication patterns.
The Eight Primary Elements of Body LanguageThe eight primary elements of body language are commonly listed as follows:
- Face – Your face is a major source of expression when communicating with others. It can smile, frown, remain neutral, show anger, show disgust, indicate you want to speak, and show interest.
- Eyes – Your eyes are often the first piece of body language others see or notice. They can be used to make visual contact, avoid visual contact, express feelings based on intensity and length of eye contact, and the like.
- Posture – Your posture includes how you hold your head, shoulders, legs, arms, and hips. Each of these parts of your body work separately as well as together to send non-verbal cues. Examples include tilting your head, slumping your shoulders, turning your hips sideways, and the like.
- Gestures – Your gestures can be related to verbal communication or unrelated to verbal communication. For instance, you might wave at another person as a way of saying ‘hello’, but you do not have to actually say the word out loud for the message to be clear. Or, you might use hand gestures to emphasise a key point during a speech or presentation; in this case, your gesture is related to the verbal communication.
- Voice – Your voice is used to verbalize language, but is an integral part of your non-verbal communication. For instance, your tone of voice, volume, emotion, pace, and the like, all influence the messages you send as part of your body language.
- Movement – Your movement, whether using your entire body or just part of your body, is both flexible and commanding. For instance, moving toward another person may send a message of dominance or assertiveness, while moving away from another person may send a message of avoidance, submission, or simply bringing the interaction to a close.
- Touch – This is one of the most powerful elements of body language. It is capable of communicating so many different messages, and can also be interpreted in so many different ways. Touch is usually divided into four main categories: friendship, professional, social, and intimacy.
- Appearance – Your physical appearance includes clothing, neatness, body shape, and anything else that provides visual messages and cues to other people. For instance, you dress conservatively and formally for a funeral, but casually and informally for a backyard barbecue.