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How Body Language Works

Body language is another term given to the non-verbal communication we do with our bodies every day. In face eighty percent of our daily communication is considered to be non-verbal. The study of body language works by studying our various body gestures, eye dilations and even the change in pitch of our voice in certain situations.

The basic premise of body language is that our body’s limbic system or reptilian brain, which controls our most basic survival functions, including the fight-or-flight response, will naturally tell our bodies to perform certain gestures. Even babies seem to intuitively know how body language works and are able to communicate their needs to us via their small body gestures. Babies learn from an early age how certain gestures elicit certain responses. For instance smiling and tilting one’s head slightly often results in an increase in attention. Even learning how to shake one’s head “yes” and “no” seems to be derived from our childhood, where the “yes” head nod allowed us to find our mother’s breast to feed from, and the “no” head nod terminates the feeding process.

When we are children, body language signs are more apparent because we haven’t learned how to hide them or minimize them. As a result, children make excellent examples of study when it comes to non-verbal communication. Children generally have little control over their reactions to various situations, so when they have a like or dislike over something they usually let you know. As a result you will see more natural limbic body language signs from children than you would from an adult. For example, when a child lies they tend to cover or touch their mouths, almost in an effort to prevent the lie from escaping. As we get older we might deflect this motion by scratching our nose or combing our fingers through our hair.

As we get older we learn how to mask our face and some of our movements. In these cases body language works by studying the parts of the body we have little to no control over, and the parts of the body that we generally don’t pay attention to. This means the observing of our feet, pupil dilations, and the pitch of our voices. Our feet are one of the few parts of the body we don’t really pay attention to unless we’re consciously thinking of them. As a result the feet are often where people studying body language will start. They can tell you who the dominant person is in the relationship, whether someone is truly interested in you, and if someone is getting ready to leave.

Pupil dilation is another body language sign observed to see if someone likes or dislikes something. However, this response only lasts momentarily so unless you are close enough to observe their initial response to a visual stimulus, you’re going to miss seeing the pupil dilations. Our vocal pitch is also something we should be aware of since our voice often reflects the emotions we’re feeling. For example when stressed many individual’s voices will start to increase in pitch. If someone’s pitch doesn’t change when they’re stating something that should have an emotional response associated with it, than that may be a sign of deceit.

Now that you know how the study of body language works, the next time you go out take the time to observe those around you and see what you can decipher from their body language signs. Just make sure that you’re not too obvious in your observations of others, as this will make people uncomfortable around you, and change their body language signs.

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