Did you know that body language is actually a whole lot more complex than you might think? Whereas we may attribute the majority of our communication skills to the spoken word, verbal communication is actually just a small part of how people speak and express themselves to each other. Depending on the country and the culture, there will be a wide range of facial expressions, body movements, and hand gestures that will indicate certain emotions and feelings. The ambiance could totally change with just a minor alteration to your eye contact or the way you hold your arms. Plus, for most people, they don’t even realize that they are exhibiting certain forms of body language. That’s right, you may be giving off a feeling or message that you didn’t even mean to send!
It’s a pretty interesting world of communication out there, so why not check your emotional intelligence with our list of 10 Body Language Facts That Will Blow Your Mind. For instance, you may be surprised to learn that there are some universal body gestures that are pretty much the same from country to country. Yet there are also distinct differences between cultures, and even among men and women. If you pay close attention, you will notice that males and females end up using a variety of gestures and movements that differ among their genders. There are also experts who professional study and research body language, and even they can’t always interpret movements and expressions correctly. It just goes to show how complex human beings can be! We hope you enjoy this list of interesting body language tidbits, and maybe you will pay more attention to your own movements from now on.
10 It’s Been Studied for Hundreds of Years
The first documented study of body language was some 350 years ago when John Bulwer wrote Chirologia: Of the Natural Language of the Hand. Written in 1644, John Bulwer looked at the way humans use their hands both while speaking and while remaining silent. Of course, body language includes more than hands, but Bulwer helped to pave the way for other studies and experiments with body language, and today we know that there are 3 main uses for it. First is as a speech replacement (think sign language,) second is to reinforce or emphasize speech, and third is to support or contradict the expression of our moods.
9 It Accounts for 80%-90% of Communication
Sure, some people absolutely love to use their words and speak up, but in the vast majority of cases, people express much more in a nonverbal way through their body language. Some 80% to 90% of a person’s communication comes through in their body language, such as facial expressions, gestures, and hand motions. Interestingly enough, most people aren’t even sure how to properly read someone else’s body language, and they may not be too certain of how to express their own feelings with body language. There are scientists dedicated solely to the purpose and nature of this form of communication.
8 It is Different for Men and Women
If you ever thought that guys were just more susceptible to tunnel vision and eyeing women up and down (also known as “checking them out,”) then you might be surprised by this tidbit. It turns out that anatomy plays a part in why men seem to check people out more than women do. Men have poorer peripheral vision than women do, which means that if they want to look at someone, they need to make a more conscious effort. On the other hand, women can sneak a peek at someone to their left or right without the obstruction of “tunnel vision.”
7 It Transcends Countries and Cultures
While different countries and even various regions in the same country have their own languages, dialects, and slang, it seems that there are a few body language gestures that are the same across the board. This means that despite the language barrier, people from different countries can share ideas and expressions without having to speak at all. Pretty cool, right? Anger, happiness, disgust, sadness, fear, and surprise are six feelings that can be accurately expressed by people across the globe regardless of language or culture. However, when it comes to things like eye contact and hand gestures, these vary greatly across cultures.
6 Some People are More Body Language Literate Than Others
Just as with a spoken language, a person can be fluent in body language. Their capacity to understand another individual’s body language and gestures is related to their level of emotional and social intelligence. Just as people have an IQ when it comes to mathematical concepts and the like, we can also be “graded” on our emotional IQ, also known as our EQ (emotional intelligence quotient.) It turns out that people who have more of this type of intelligence are better able to communicate, understand, and express body language. Of course, even intelligent people can have a lower EQ; they just need more direct and verbal communication is all.
5 Body Language Includes Personal Space
Sometimes people refer to their personal space as their own “bubble” or “hula hoop.” Depending on the culture and the country the person belongs to, that personal bubble may be larger or smaller. Take Americans, for example. They tend to have larger personal bubbles, and don’t like to get close to each other when speaking. On the other hand, some Asian cultures get very close to each other when speaking, almost cheek to cheek. They don’t have too much personal space between them. It’s an interesting facet to the whole body language idea. Eye contact is another facet that plays into face-to-face conversations.
4 Body Language is Often Unconscious
This goes for both the person expressing the body language and gestures as well as the person you is interpreting or receiving them. It’s quite challenging to accurately interpret body language all the time. In fact, even the experts aren’t always able to predict what a person is trying to say through body language, eye contact, and facial expressions alone. This means that even if you think someone is exhibiting angry body language, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is actually upset. Moreover, most people give off messages of through their body language without even realizing it. Who knew!
3 The “Crotch Display” is a Form of Body Language
Most people know this as the way most men tend to sit. They sit down with their feet planted firmly on the ground and their legs and knees are spread far apart. This is known as the “crotch display,” and while men are the most likely candidates for it, there are times when a female may exhibit this form of body language. Yet the “crotch display” is a distinctly male gesture, since it shows off the male “assets” and displays them openly to say “I’m in charge here.” This is often used by males who want to show dominion of others in the room.
2 Body Language Includes Micro-Expressions
Think of these as brief, split-second instances of body language gestures. With micro-expressions, we only see facial and body movements for just a fleeting moment, yet these expressions often give us more information than longer held movements. Most of the time, a micro-expression is a person’s way of hiding or trying to downplay a certain emotion, be it fear, happiness, anger, or something else. Analyzing someone’s micro-expressions may even help you determine how well that person is responding to you as well as how your relationship will pan out in the future. Of course, you need to be quick enough to catch the micro-expressions!
1 Body Language is Mimicked
Have you ever noticed that some people tend to mimic the body language of others around them? Women are four times more likely to do this than men, and it often stems from pure instinct on the woman’s part. Women will mimic both other women, but also men, although men are highly unlikely to copy what another man is doing, let alone a woman. The only exception would be if a man is trying to woo a woman, in which case he may mimic her movements, eye contact, or facial expressions. Just don’t cross your arms or legs because it signals that you have emotionally dismissed the situation.