Even if you don’t realize it, you are speaking and listening to body language whenever you interact with another human being. People tell you more about their true feelings and emotions with body language than the spoken word. Our own body language also tells others our own true emotions and feelings — often more truly than our spoken words.

How can this be true?

Let’s compare interpersonal communication with communication by written words. When we send someone a written message, the background behind the words is a blank piece of paper and adds nothing to the conversation, but take those same words and speak them to another person…

Of course, our voice inflects meaning, but our bodies are not just a blank piece of paper… Suddenly the language we speak with our body adds a whole world of background to our words.

Our facial expression adds intent. Our eyes make contact — or don’t. Our posture emits emotion, even when sitting. Our gestures show our hand. Bodily contact can add import…

  • Facial expression;
  • Gaze;
  • Posture;
  • Gesture, and;
  • Bodily contact.

Our body language adds non-verbal weight to words in ways that words on paper cannot. Research shows that MOST of what we say to one another is non-verbal

  • Only 7 percent of our interpersonal communication is done with the spoken word;
  • 93 percent of the meaning of our spoken words is non-verbal, and;
  • YOU already “speak” and “hear” body language.

If this research is correct, 93 percent of how we talk to each other in person is non-verbal AND we already speak and translate body language — subconsciously. The problem is, we are not thinking about it consciously — we are simply letting our subconscious mind do all of the talking and listening.

Learning how to hear and speak body language is critical if we intend to understand the true thoughts and emotions of others, or to control what we “say” to others with our own body language.

  • “Hearing” body language. We “hear” body language when we translate the gesture, posture, gaze, facial expression and bodily contact of others.
  • “Speaking” body language. Our body language “speaks” our subconscious thoughts and emotions to others with gestures, posture, gaze, facial expression and bodily contact.

Now that we know more about body language, should we make a conscious effort to improve our own body language skills?

I believe everyone who desires more honest and open communication with others would benefit from learning how to speak and hear body language better. No matter what your occupation is, learning more about body language will help you understand and be understood better by others.

Certainly, anyone in sales will benefit from a general knowledge of body language…. So I encourage anyone with a sales related occupation to read my next blog post, “Learning Body Language for Sales Success.”

Until my next post, here is a body language experiment for you to try the when you have a conversation with someone:

  • Make a conscious effort to observe how other people’s body language might be speaking to you;
  • Try to observe how your own body language might influence what others “hear” when you are speaking, and;
  • Remember, researchers believe body language communicates a powerful message, even if we are not aware of it.

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