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How to Recognise Negative Body Language

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 10 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Body Language Body Communication

The first thing to remember about body language is that it says what you can’t or don’t want to say verbally. Body language is an extension of a human being’s ability to communicate and as such it can be used as a means of passing over positive vibes or negative vibes almost as clearly as if we were to say something in a happy or sad tone of voice. This form of nonverbal communication is very important as to how a person is portrayed.

What is Negative Body Language?

As we have briefly touched upon negative body language is any kind of movement of the body, head, eyes, any part of the visible anatomy that alludes to us as individuals being unhappy or displeased by something or someone.

Negative body language often manifests itself in one of the following physical ways:

  • Shoulders drawn back
  • Persistent eye contact (staring)
  • Arms crossed over the chest
  • Sweating
  • Hands clenched to make fists
  • Swaying back and forth
  • Grinding teeth

All of the aforementioned physical displays can be attributed to negative body language and are often seen during a host of different scenarios. Indeed many of them you may be a regular user of yourself depending on the nature of (a) your mood and (b) the circumstances surrounding that mood.

How Mood Affects Negative Body Language

If you are happy then your body will feel relaxed, your muscles will be loose and your eyes will convey a sense of contentment. This however is not the case if you are in a bad mood.

We categorise a bad mood as being annoyed or upset or unhappy about something or indeed someone and although we can hide this mood by trying to be jolly and chatting with people in the usual way our bodies and their movements, stances and postures can unmask even the best performance.

If you are in a less than happy mood it is likely you will pace around, stand up a lot of the time, tap your fingers or do any of the things we mentioned earlier on. Our minds, although trying to focus our attention away from what is bothering us, cannot control all of our body’s movements and so some of them slip through and are visible.

What Causes Negative Body Language?

As we have already mentioned mood has a lot to do with negative body language but there are other factors which have a bearing on it as well. Some of the factors contributing to negative body language are as follows:

  • Boredom
  • Frustration
  • Nervousness
  • Being suspicious of someone in our company
  • Staking a claim on our territory

All of these can cause a display of negative body language and again sometimes the mind is unable to stop this display from manifesting itself physically or even know its happening.

We each of us know how our partners and other family members behave and it is likely that they know how we behave when we find ourselves in any of the aforementioned sets of circumstances so it is a wise idea to ask them as to how they see you behave in those circumstances. You may find the results surprising.

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