In my line of work, body language means a lot. The way a person sits, talks, and interacts by way of their physical appearance can sometimes say more than words every could.
When it comes to face to face interactions, body language is one of the first impressions you will ever give of yourself. There are entire careers and many specialists dedicated to analyzing and studying a person’s feelings and thoughts based entirely on their body language.
While I’m no body language expert, I’ve learned that how a person comes off can really set the stage for the message they are trying to send. As a professional counselor, I’ve learned to be really aware of my body language, and the messages I am giving off to my clients as well as the people in my life.
How close I sit, my eye contact, and even my posture says so much about my interest and concern for my clients.
But even more important than the body language present in professional relationships, is the body language that’s expressed in our day to day interactions. How we relate to others, and even how we relate to the opposite sex, can say a lot more than we ever realized (or wanted) if we aren’t aware of the messages our bodies are sending. Here are some things to observe about your body language, and begin taking ownership of what your body might be saying to the world around you:
Your arms and hand gestures have a lot to say. The more open your position, the more warm and friendly the vibe. Arms crossed over the body usually indicate someone who is uncomfortable, insecure or uninterested. Like the term suggests, warm body language tends to be described as “open arms”. This kind of welcoming language tends to be comfortable with appropriate touch on the shoulder or the arm. But beware of over-touching, which can come across as flirtatious or interested, when that might not really be the case. Observe to see if your body language matches your conversation and your intentions.
How far or close you stand to someone says a lot. My friend Lisa was always getting asked out by guys she had absolutely no interest in, until she realized that her body language was telling them a lot more than she ever intended it to. Her tendency to touch and be close was something she wasn’t aware of, and sometimes her body language signaled something she never wanted to say.
You see, there is warmth in a comfortably close (comfortable close – not creepy close) conversation- sending messages of love, care, and appreciation. And there is apathy in an interaction in which you are standing much too far away- signaling disinterest, fear, or disregard. But like Lisa observed, less than an arm’s length away can sometimes indicate romantic interest- but it can also scare people away. Mastering body language means also being aware of the comfort level of the person standing before you, offering a language that speaks safety and security. What messages are you sending with your proximity?
Your Facial Expressions:
I’ve heard my husband say many a time to me, “Your face says it all”. I’m one of those people who are really bad at hiding how they feel- it comes right through their facial expressions. My nose crinkles, my eyes open wide, and my head nods in disdain when I’m not feelin’ something. Your facial expressions say a lot more than you might be aware of. A roll of the eye claims irritability. A focused stare shouts intimidation, while the inability to look someone in the eye proclaims fear, doubt, insecurity, or dishonesty. Find a healthy balance that speaks confidence and concern.
There are so many messages that can be sent through our facial expressions, but to me, the most meaningful of all is the beauty of a genuine smile. It’s amazing how much love, warmth, and appreciation can be summed up in the movement of our lips and the flexing of our cheeks. And according to research, the body language of a smile even speaks to ourselves! Our brain chemistry is altered to send good vibes whenever we flex those important facial muscles. I think we could all benefit from smiling a little more.
No matter who we are or where we’re at, our body language clearly says a lot. It’s important to be mindful of what our body might be portraying to the world around us, particularly applying all this to the area of romantic relationships and interactions with the opposite sex.
Are we sending messages that speak welcome and interest, beckoning others to come close- or messages of fear, distance, and mistrust, telling the world around us to stay away? It’s important that our body language begins to mimic and match what’s in our heart!
Your body language speaks volumes to the people in your life, so use it to say what you mean – and then mean what you say.
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Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!