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Health and Fitness News

Speaking Without Words

Communicating through body language.

Each day the average person speaks thousands of words, but we communicate through more than words. In fact, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of communication is done through body language. This means more than half of what you say is communicated through your facial expressions, eye contact, and the way you move your body. So while you may not be saying anything out loud, you’re still sending strong messages, loud and clear.

Good communication, both verbal and nonverbal, is foundational to a healthy relationship, whether with your spouse, your boss, or your friend. Being able to correctly convey and understand body language is a big part of connecting with others in a meaningful way.

For a closer look at the different types of body language and what they mean, keep reading.

Facial Expressions

Intense emotion can be hard to hide because it’s written all over your face. An interesting thing about facial expressions is many of them are universal. Around the world, people express joy, fear, anger, sadness, and surprise on their face in the same way. A smile is known around the world as a sign of happiness and friendliness. A frown communicates disapproval or displeasure.

Eyes

The eyes may be small, but they say a lot about what a person is thinking or feeling. Eye contact, the frequency of blinks, and the dilation of pupils are all forms of body language. Good eye contact shows interest and attention. Prolonged eye contact can start to feel awkward. Breaking eye contact may mean the person is uncomfortable or distracted. Rapid blinking may signal distress. Large pupils may indicate that someone is interested or attracted to someone.

Mouth

Words may not be coming out of your mouth, but it’s still speaking. Biting your lip? You may be worried or insecure. Pursed lips may signal disapproval or distrust. Lips turned down may mean you’re sad or mad. People often cover their mouth when they want to hide their emotions—and for good reason!

Gestures

The way you move your hands is a form of nonverbal communication. Unlike facial expressions, gestures are generally not universal in meaning so one must be careful to use gestures when traveling abroad. Examples of gestures include pointing, waving, beckoning, giving the thumbs up or thumbs down, or clenching your fist.

Posture

A lot can be determined about people by the way they hold their body. Standing or sitting up straight conveys confidence and focus. Slouching or hunching over implies boredom, insecurity, or indifference. An open posture where the body is exposed is usually taken as friendliness and willingness to engage. Someone with a closed posture who is hunched forward with arms or legs crossed may portray anxiety, hostility, or unfriendliness.

Arms and Legs

You may not realize it, but your arms and legs have a language of their own. Fidgeting or tapping can indicate boredom, impatience, or anxiety. Crossing your arms is a sign of being self-protective or defensive while crossing the legs turned away from someone may indicate a dislike of that person. Placing your hands on your hips can convey aggressiveness or control.

Space

The space between people can communicate nonverbal information. Cultures and individuals have different perceptions of personal space. You’ve probably experienced a time when someone stood too close and made you feel uncomfortable. The relationship and the situation determine how close you’re willing to let others get in your personal space.

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