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This Month In Life
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    Facial expressions, posture, body movements, and personal space are all forms of non-verbal communication. What can body language communicate? It depends where you’re looking. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Speaking Without Saying a Word

Sometimes, you don’t have to open your mouth. Your body says it all.

Facial expressions, posture, body movements, and personal space are all forms of non-verbal communication. No words are spoken, but a message comes across, loud and clear. Sometimes all it takes is a shift of your eyes to communicate your innermost thoughts.

As you interact with others, it’s instinctive to interpret body language. But it’s easy to misread people and get upset. So before you misinterpret someone’s body language, take the context, culture, and the person’s individual personality into consideration.

What can body language communicate? It depends where you’re looking.

The Eyes

They aren’t called “windows to the soul” for no reason. A lot can be revealed about a person’s thoughts or feelings through their eyes. Direct eye contact is a sign the person is listening and interested in what you’re saying. Piercing, prolonged eye contact, though, may feel intimidating, as if the other person is trying to dominate you. Rapid blinking may indicate a person feels uncomfortable. And if you can get in close enough to see the pupils, large pupils may show interest or desire.

The Mouth

Generally speaking, smiles show genuine happiness. But not always. Because of our complicated human nature, they can indicate cynicism, sarcasm, or fake happiness. Chewing on the bottom lip may show someone feels worried, insecure, or fearful. Pursed lips may indicate disapproval or distrust. A mouth that’s slightly turned down may mean disapproval, sadness, or pain.

Facial Expressions

The human face is extremely expressive, making true emotions hard to hide. Depending on your facial expression, you may indicate sadness, anger, contempt, happiness, fear, surprise, disgust, confusion, or excitement. Or perhaps your face reeks of boredom or annoyance. The possibilities are limitless! While cultures around the world have different expressions for many emotions, happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, and anger are universally expressed in the same way.

Posture

How you hold your body screams your thoughts and feelings to those around you. Generally, posture is described as either open or closed. Open posture is when your arms and legs are free and not crossed. This shows friendliness and openness to engage. Closed posture, on the other hand, says the opposite. When your arms and/or legs are crossed or you’re hunched over, your posture indicates that you aren’t friendly or that you’re anxious, bored, or indifferent.

Hands and Fingers

Gestures of the hands and fingers are another form of body language. Again, many gestures are specific to certain cultures and aren’t universal, so be careful not to use an offensive gesture when in another country. A few common gestures include waving, pointing, thumbs up, thumbs down, a peace sign, the okay sign, a clenched fist, or holding up fingers to indicate a number.

Arms and Legs

Even movements of the arms and legs are a form of nonverbal communication. Tapping or fidgeting the fingers may show a person is anxious, bored, or angry. Hands placed on the hips may indicate readiness, control, or aggression. Crossed arms may mean a person is closed-off, self-protecting, cold, or defensive. Crossed legs may indicate a person is closed-off, disinterested, or seeking privacy.

Personal Space

The distance between two people communicates a lot. These days, you’re told to maintain a social distance of at least six feet, but this is harder for some people than it is for others. A distance of 6 to 18 inches indicates a level of intimacy and comfort between two people. Family and friends typically keep a distance of 18 inches to 4 feet between each other, while acquaintances are more comfortable being 4 to 12 feet apart.

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