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Body language certainly also includes very small bodily movements such as facial expressions and eye movements. Body language also arguably covers all that we communicate through our bodies apart from the spoken words thereby encompassing breathing, perspiration, pulse, blood-pressure, blushing, etc. In this respect, standard dictionary definitions don't always describe body language fully and properly. We could define body language more fully as: Body posture, movement, physical state, position and relationship to other bodies, objects and surroundings, Facial expression and eye movement, and this transmission and interpretation can be quite different to the spoken words.
We find clues to additional or true meaning in body language. Being able to 'read' body language therefore helps us greatly: Background and history Philosophers and scientists have connected human physical behaviour with meaning, mood and personality for thousands of years, but only in living memory has the study of body language become as sophisticated and detailed as it is today.
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Body language studies and written works on the subject are very sparse until the mids. The first known experts to consider aspects of body language were probably the ancient Greeks, notably Hippocrates and Aristotle, through their interest in human personality and behaviour, and the Romans, notably Cicero, relating gestures to feelings and communications.
Much of this early interest was in refining ideas about oration - speech-making - given its significance to leadership and government. Isolated studies of body language appeared in more recent times, for example Francis Bacon in Advancement of Learning,explored gestures as reflection or extension of spoken communications.
John Bulwer's Natural History of the Hand published inconsidered hand gestures. Gilbert Austin's Chironomia in looked at using gestures to improve speech-making. Charles Darwin in the late s could be regarded as the earliest expert to have made serious scientific observation about body language, but there seems little substantial development of ideas for at least the next years.
Darwin's work pioneered much ethological thinking. Ethology began as the science of animal behaviour. It became properly established during the early s and increasingly extends to human behaviour and social organization.
Where ethology considers animal evolution and communications, it relates strongly to human body language. Ethologists have progressively applied their findings to human behaviour, including body language, reflecting the evolutionary origins of much human non-verbal communication - and society's growing acceptance of evolutionary rather than creationist theory. Austrian zoologist and Nobel Prizewinner Konrad Lorenz was a founding figure in ethology.
Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape, discussed below, is an ethologist, as is the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins b. Ethology, like psychology, is an over-arching science which continues to clarify the understanding of body language. The popular and accessible study of body language as we know it today is very recent.
In his popular book 'Body Language', Julius Fast wrote: His book Body Language was among the first to bring the subject to a mainstream audience. All except one of Julius Fast's cited works are from the s and s. The exception among Fast's contemporary influences was Charles Darwin, and specifically his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, written inwhich is commonly regarded as the beginnings of the body language science, albeit not recognised as such then.
Sigmund Freud and others in the field of psychoanalysis - in the late s and early s - would have had good awareness of many aspects of body language, including personal space, but they did not focus on non-verbal communications concepts or develop body language theories in their own right. Freud and similar psychoanalysts and psychologists of that time were focused on behaviour and therapeutic analysis rather than the study of non-verbal communications per se.
A different view of human behaviour related to and overlapping body language, surfaced strongly in Desmond Morris's book The Naked Ape, and in follow-up books such as Intimate Behaviour, Morris, a British zoologist and ethologist, linked human behaviour - much of it concerned with communications - to human 'animalistic' evolution. His work remains a popular and controversial perspective for understanding people's behaviours, and while his theories did not focus strongly on body language, Morris's popularity in the late s and s contributed significantly to the increasing interest among people beyond the scientific community - for a better understanding of how and why we feel and act and communicate.
An important aspect of body language is facial expression, which is arguably one part of body language for which quite early 'scientific' thinking can be traced: The ancient roots of this concept demonstrate that while body language itself is a recently defined system of analysis, the notion of inferring human nature or character from facial expression is extremely old. The word kinesics was first used in English in this sense in the s, deriving from the Greek word kinesis, meaning motion, and seems to have first been used by Dr Ray Birdwhistell, an American s researcher and writer on body language.
The introduction of a new technical word - in this case, kinesics - generally comes after the establishment of the subject it describes, which supports the assertion that the modern concept of body language - encompassing facial expressions and personal space - did not exist until the s. The word was devised in the late s or early s by Edward Twitchell Hall, an American anthropologist. The word is Hall's adaptation of the word proximity, meaning closeness or nearness.
This is not to be confused with the ancient and same word kine, meaning a group of cows. Neither word seems to have caught on in a big way, which in one way is a pity, but in another way probably makes matters simpler for anyone interested in the body language of cows.
Kinaesthetics also known as kinestheticsthe study of learning styles, is related to some of the principles of body language, in terms of conveying meaning and information via physical movement and experience. Body language is among many branches of science and education which seek to interpret and exploit messages and meaning from the 'touchy-feely' side of life. These and similar methodologies do not necessarily reference body language directly, but there are very strong inter-connections.
Body language is part of human evolution, but as with many other aspects of human behaviour, the precise mixture of genetic inherited and environmental learned or conditioned influences is not known, and opinions vary. She is showing that she is not impressed by folding her arms across her body. She is trying to act passively confrontational by avoiding eye contact. Dave is using body language here to his advantage. He wants to come across as non-threatening so he lowers his body height compared to hers.
Using body language in this way does not necessarily mean that the man is less dominant, but it does show courtesy. Scarlett appreciates this approach and even permits him to move closer than normal with only a few inches separating her forearm and his hand. It is important to approach a woman from the front so as not to block her in or intimidate her. The tables have been turned in this situation. This illustrates the importance of body positions and levels well. Scarlett is towering over Dave making him feel subordinate and intimidated.
The plane her body makes encroaches near, and possibly over, the halfway mark on the table. Dave is showing that he is being aggressed upon and is pulling his drink toward himself and trying to avoid direct eye contact by moving his chin away from her.
It is evident that Scarlett is putting Dave down and asserting her position over him. These are all indicators of disinterest as she is using body language to establish control over the relationship.
Whispering by either sex is a great way to force people to move into their personal space. Since Scarlett is doing the whispering, Dave could take this to mean that she is interested and wants him to move closer.
This is welcomed touching and was initiated by Julie. She is also touching his tie which is a strong signal that she desires his closeness. Here, Mark is allowing Julie to shrink the final bit of space between them. He has engaged her in conversation instead of pushing himself on her and invading her space. She is pushed right up against Mark and is leaning in toward him closing the distance even further. Proximity is almost always a form of intimacy.
Women feel more comfortable if they are approached from the front because they can better assess the situation and are not taken by surprise. After this initial approach, and if the woman begins to relax, the man can then move to the side to continue the conversation. If, on the other hand, a woman chooses to approach a man, she might do so by approaching initially from the side or from behind, then continuing the conversation directly in front of him.
The more she faces a man and matches his torso with her own, the more attraction she is feeling. A man will very normally perceive a woman who approaches directly from the front as a threat but will find this positioning tolerable after an initial approach. A female boss might move in directly to her male employee to better establish hierarchy.
He has performed a semi or full circle of the room, Scarlet has noticed him and made eye contact, and he has slowly moved in to speak with her.
Dave shows that he is a bit timid by keeping his hands in his pockets. Her right arm is crossed over her body and holding her left elbow forming a barrier to protect herself. Her legs are also crossed which is a closed body position.
She is smiling, however, showing that she is comfortable in the situation. While in conversation with a stranger, a 45 degree angle is most suitable between two people.
The reason for maintaining this angle to another is that it makes a quick exit possible. An exit from this angle requires only one motion and that is forward and away.
However, if two people are facing each other straight on then exit requires two motions: When strangers meet, always remember that it is risky. This is especially true for women who are naturally smaller and more vulnerable.
As a man, imagine being approached sexually by someone who is both So Dave found bigger and stronger than Scarlett attractive and you. Absent of any laws felt compelled to break and rules, this situation her away from the could be extremely dialogue she was having dangerous.
Now add to with her girlfriend. The problem lies not in his this a mind that confidence to approach contained ancient her; he has done well to hardwiring to naturally get this far. The fear such responses. No problem lies in the amount of learning can approach itself; it is all wipe away our wrong. He came in from behind her, startled evolutionary her, and put her on a hardwiring. Dave should brains have evolved have made a big enough under the cheater half circle and perhaps strategies of some men.
He sometimes would have could have gone in front employed a rapist of her and ordered a strategy. Other types of drink first so she would have had the opportunity scenarios that our brains to assess him as he has are wired to fear upon an had to assess her.
A man initial meeting include should always come in violence, thievery, or from in front of a even death. At this woman and in plain sight. At the same time, point, you should be he should avoid coming getting the idea.
When a in directly toward her man approaches a like a hunter on his prey. Your job as a man is to make the woman feel comfortable and turn that potential fear response into excitement and exhilaration. You can do this simply by respecting approach distances and angles. Ignore these rules and suffer rejection and risk putting the woman in a state of fear. This puts the man in plain sight of the woman at all times and gives her the opportunity to assess him. The goal of this form of approach is to reduce the likelihood of seeing the man as a threat.
A man should always move deliberately and also avoid charging in toward a woman head on. Men by nature are goal-oriented, but this is a time to avoid going at a women like she is prey. Remember, you are not trying to attack her, you are trying to attract her.
When a woman is interested in a man, she will normally approach from behind or from the side, as portrayed here.
Scarlett will most likely slowly move to the front and continue the conversation face to face, especially if she likes Dave. A man normally sees a woman that comes straight in as a threat, so prefers to be approached from the side.
The more a woman turns to face you, the more interested she is. Thus, you should avoid trying to approach women who are sitting by standing beside them and towering over them. Rather, they should be approached from a kneeling position unless a chair is nearby.
Women could power play as well by overtly cornering a man at his desk, for example. She may come up and sit on his desk to convey a sense of power over him.
Normally this will not come across as a sexual advance, but rather an encroachment on his personal space and hence a threat. It is therefore important for both sexes to attempt to bring each other together at eye level so as not to turn each other off. It occurs when someone uses their arms and body to block someone against a wall, a bar, or even into a corner. This may be done either partially, by using part of an arm or part of the body, or entirely, in which case a woman is physically blocked into a corner with the positioning of the torso.
This has the effect of making the woman feel trapped, frightened or even angry. Blocking and cornering can have a profound effect on how a conversation evolves especially if this is during a first impression. Dave is doing something that no one should. He is blocking Scarlett in and cutting off her exits. In this photograph, he is completely blocking her in, but it could very well happen partially with one arm or with another body part such as a leg. Dave is eliciting negative body language from Scarlett.
She is moving her head backwards and away and I suspect if she had the chance, she would exit the situation altogether. Men will not be successful at persuading women into romance by making them frightened. Instead, as a man, allow women to invite you into their personal space. Once there, give them plenty of indications that you are giving them full right to leave whenever they please.
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She is as a barrier to making a playful face. If she the bar. Scarlett is playing a turns her back dominant role here which toward the man or could mean she is trying to does not remove an control the situation.
When these sorts of things happen it is best to take the hint and attack the problem from a different angle. Blocking occurs very frequently in social situations, such as parties. Since there are so many additional The Body Language Project: Forming a circle with intimate friends is one way to excludes others from entering. This occurs fairly often in bars and nightclubs and presents a fairly difficult barrier to break.
A couple might utilize the corner of a sofa as a barrier against intruders and cut off the open side with a back turned inwards. This sends a message to the rest of the room that the couple does not want to be disturbed. Being aware of such barriers present in and about a room can give you plenty of information about the thoughts and feelings as well as the relationship strengths present.
Women find this sort of exchange from a man of interest particularly exhilarating. If touching is allowed to be prolonged or is reciprocated, it is a great indication that there is interest. It is fairly easy to dismiss touching as accidental if one is not consciously aware of its strength as a positive indicator of interest.
Touching can almost always be construed as a form of interest. It is very important to know how to touch because it can be construed differently under different circumstances and can result in different outcomes.
Touch can be used as an extension of friendship or as a full on assault depending on how it is delivered. The method and particulars of the touch also have meaning. For example, a hug or handshake that last a bit longer than ordinary can signify intimacy or compassion.
Or comparably, a hug or handshake that is loose or weak could mean friendship or indifference. For example, it is generally acceptable to touch a stranger with a slight poke with two fingers on the shoulder to gain their attention, but quite something else to come up to a stranger and stroke their back.
It is important to use touch carefully in the early stages of any relationship. If she is shy, then at least wait for her to provide signals that touch is welcome. Accidental touching is a form of flirting.
Any space closer than about 18 inches would be considered an intimate distance. Finding an excuse to touch is a great strategy to show interest. Touching could result during the exchanging of an item such as a menu or condiment Whispering or talking quietly to someone else can often force people to move into your intimate body space.
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If a woman whispers to you, you can take this to mean that she wants you to come closer and is attracted to you. If however, she does not like it when you whisper then this can be taken as a signal of disinterest. Leaning in to speak to someone else should yield a similar response from them. It is also important to monitor her response after the whisper.
Does she move back to her original position by leaning back in her chair or does she maintain the proximity? If she initially leans forward, but later backs away, allow her to do so without continuing to make further advances because she is indicating that she is not interested. If you begin to whisper and she merely begins to shout back that she cannot hear you, then she is probably not interested. You might also throw in brief eye contact followed by lowered eyes.
You can even hold this gaze a little longer than what is normally comfortable, but avoid staring. If you toss in a smile every once in a while you will show her that you have a warm and open side. After you feel that you have made a connection with someone, test her interest by backing away slightly. If she quickly moves forward and takes up the space between the two of you, she is showing on her own merit that she is interested.
Pens, cutlery, food, and so on, can be used to demonstrate to another that you desire closeness. Intimacy can be established by exchanging an item as well since it symbolically represents the breakdown of a space barrier between two people. Objects can also be used to test interest.
What is done to an exchanged item contains meaning. If a woman takes what you have given her and strokes and touches it, then she is attracted to you.
If you know a woman who does this consistently, then you are best to get the hint. She is either really forgetful or else she wants into your personal space.
This is far better than using your whole body. By moving an arm closer to someone, you are in effect telling them that you want your whole body there but without being too forward and risking coming off as offensive. If a woman motions with her arms toward you, you are in good shape. It Mark demonstrates a poor means she is approach on a woman. He comfortable with should have moved to the front of the chair where he would you and she may be have been able to approach in interested in getting plain sight.
From this position, closer. As a there exists any attraction. He rule, before entering should have let her see him the personal space before randomly approaching of a stranger closer her.
To move any closer than this, a head nod at minimum to a simple greeting is in order. To move to the next level of proximity, a conversation should occur. As a rule, if no conversation has occurred, only very rarely will a woman tolerate any more intimacy.
Scarlett is using a spoon in conversation to cross the imaginary halfway line between her and Dave. Pens, food, or any other item can be used in this way. In this way, she could be using it as an excuse to visit again, especially if it is done repeatedly.
If Dave performed this tactic on her and her body language changed to a closed position, it would be a signal that the advance was unwelcome. If she gladly takes it, this can be used as a good indication that she is interested. If she refuses to take it then you may be wasting your time or else she may just be taking things slowly. If you are present during these feelings she may project her negative attitude onto you. It might be as simple as extending a drink to force an arm that was ordinarily rigid against her body to be extended to accept the drink.
This simple motion can serve as a catalyst to more open body postures. There are two theories about moods and emotions: If you can induce people to open up their posture, there is a good chance that their minds will open up as well. Scarlett is showing signs of opening up. She is removing an article of clothing.
She is comfortable enough with Dave to show him that she is in no hurry to leave and is also revealing more skin, which is always a good sign. Asking a woman to dance can force her body to open up and she may find that the action of dancing puts her in a better mood.
In theory at least, it is always more productive to respond to the body language and subtly adjust it first before trying to attack the emotions behind it. Speaking about emotions can sometimes make them better, but it is risky. Using body language as a gauge of mood is a great way to avoid falling into a serious argument and gives pretense by which to operate under.
You may not notice that she has her breast pushed up against him, but Dave does! Scarlett is trying to send Dave a strong message of interest. Grabbing the belt loop is also added into the equation to further show interest and intimacy. This is a very overt gesture by Scarlett. She has taken on a dominant role by initiating touching.
This could be intimate or fleeting and flirty depending on duration. Intimate would normally be defined as prolonged touching except in the case where sympathy was being offered. Context plays an important part in determining the meaning of body language. If Dave had just disclosed that his grandmother recently passed away, then touching would be to ease pain, but if they were in a normal or intimate conversation, it would be deemed a demonstration of attraction.
Dave, for the most part, is oblivious to this cue and more interested in his drink. It is probably not a random event that Scarlett is tickling Dave. She is most likely using this touching to signal her interest. Surprisingly, some men would still take this as simple playfulness, which occasionally it is. However, if you find the girl attractive then you should feel confident in accepting that she finds you attractive in return. All touching establishes closeness and intimacy.
Especially when initiated by a woman, it is a sign of sexual interest. Touching also normally indicates that someone wants something from you. In this case, it is pretty obvious that Scarlett desires attention from Dave. She may back away after this contact and may then expect him to begin his pursuit. Height differences should never be exploited by any party.
This is especially true when one party is sitting and one is standing. However, when both parties are standing, the difference in height can be used advantageously. Dave is a few inches taller than Scarlett, so he can use this to arouse her and appear more dominant. Women normally like to feel secure and protected, and when a man is taller than they are, it gives them the sense that they will receive that protection in their company. He may be missing the signals. Based on the proximity this pair has, it is not surprising that touching has occurred.
This form of touching is safe and foolproof for the woman and can be used by her to influence Dave into pursuing her. Women often leave the risky and dangerous work, as well as the pursuit, to men. A co-worker having legs crossed toward you, given a similar context, would also not be a signal of interest. The situation in which the action takes place is important. One might also consider the location and the greater environment such as the temperature.
For example, in a hot building, a woman might begin to remove a long-sleeved shirt or unbutton a blouse. For someone not attuned to the situation, this could be taken as an overt sexual message, but in reality it might not be a signal at all. Conversely, at a formal event or around newly acquainted people, or while presenting at a meeting, the body tends to tense up.
An approach, at this time will not reflect true feelings. Therefore, body language might have nothing at all to do with particular relationships or who is in the room, but rather could be a reflection of the context or temperature. So while reading the following, please keep in mind that the body language cues are context-specific and can be compounded with feelings and emotions attached to a thought that may or may not be currently applicable. When a woman is not interested in your company, she will exhibit certain body postures and gestures.
The more postures and gestures she shows the more disinterested she is. Keep in mind that body language is additive and so individual signals work together to send a message to others. For example, a woman might play with her hair suggestively to signal interest but she might also not play with her hair, and this can be taken as a sign of disinterest.
Overall, there are far more variations to show interest than disinterest. Disinterest is fairly cut and dry and obvious such as arms and legs crossed and avoidance of eye contact.
Positive indicators of interest are more numerous and obscure most likely because interest is something that is ever changing depending on many variables, specifically the current usefulness and practicality of someone to our own goals. The main point I want to make here is that by not giving a positive cue, a woman is sending the signal that she is not interested. We will still cover a fair number of gestures that are specific to showing disinterest here though because some cues are specifically cues of disinterest.
While at this moment it might sound somewhat confusing, in addition to the text you will find that the photos and captions make the cues appear somewhat intuitive. She can also show disinterest by leaning away from you and not displaying her neck with her head down facing you. If she is leaning toward you, she may still show disinterest by supporting her head in her hand and placing an arm so as to block her body from you.
Another signal of disinterest occurs when she crosses her legs by placing one ankle on top of the knee and then placing a hand the one closest to you on the ankle, but this cue is someone ambiguous.
Any gesture that cuts off the center of the body from view, either with an arm or due to its position as a whole, is a signal of disinterest.
Disinterest is also a function of comfort. The more comfortable someone is, and therefore interested, the more open their postures will be. Something has gone wrong for Dave. She is showing strong disinterest or boredom. Her legs are crossed away from Dave, and she is scratching the back of her hands showing that she is uncomfortable. What is probably most important is that she is looking away, possibly at someone across the room, or toward the exit.
Dave, on the opposite side, is leaning forward and extending his drink in her direction possibly trying to regain her attention. If she continues this negative body language she will lose the remainder of any interest she might have had.
Simple as that, she gives this as a sign that she does not want to be approached and that doing so is a waste of time. Showing the tongue also means that she is taken and in a relationship with someone else. She is sending a powerful signal of nonattraction to men by displaying this strong sign of dominance.
Find out how a person usually comports themselves and if possible in more than one situation. Experts agree that reading body language requires a comparison between relaxed body language and body language that arises during emotional provocation. By establishing a baseline it will be possible to catch sudden changes in body language. Without catching the changes, body language loses its ability to indicate exactly what is going on. Most agree that we need at least four independent signals before we can reliably make conclusions about a persons body language.
How many signals can you spot in this photo? How does each person feel? The more cues that appear in association with other cues, the more accurate one can be about the underlying meaning. However, most agree that four independent signals is enough to positively identify true meaning. Most experts agree that we need at least four independent cues before definitively uncovering hidden meaning. Can you spot the hidden language in this photo? If, for example, one is speaking honestly with the palms up an honest gesture we can say that the body language and verbal language are congruent.
That is, honest words match up with honest body language. To extend this example, someone might remove their hands from their pockets, do a palms up display while relaying information, and then return their hands to their pockets. Their palm up display is incongruent with returning their hands to their pockets. This person might be lying in a worst case, and at best, nervous. A lack of congruence can lead us down the wrong path or when we see inconsistency can tip the body language reader off on a ruse.
Mirroring means that rapport is being built. Are similar postures and gestures being imitated between two people? Is rapport being built? Mirroring describes body postures, body positions and gestures that are held in unison or echoed a few seconds later, across people as they interacting.