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Body Language Explained: Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

Updated on December 8, 2019

1. Power Body Language

Though this is a type of dominant body language, it also has an element of heroism as well. It can also be defined as a body language connected to the rescue of those who in need.

Two types of people who try to use power body language are those who are actually in a position of authority and those who would like to assume that they hold such a position. In any given relationship, whether in a marriage, family, college or business, power body language is demonstrated by those who would like to be seen as being the centre of power in that particular relationship.

The many ways in which you can be able to recognize power body language. One main principle to bear in mind when interpreting power body language is in how space and size are used.

A good example here is how spaces are used in a corporate parking lot. Those who exhibit power body language will tend to have their vehicles parked in reserved areas. In other words, they would like to have their own special spots. In the small details of everyday life, you will find that a person displaying power body language typically taking spaces over for themselves. This includes invading your personal space as well as the personal spaces of others.

They will also tend to use size to their advantage. You can see this in the size of their office, their car, their residence or other properties they own. In a corporate setting, they will tend to have their own office with a door such that they are always in control of who comes in and goes out.

Power body language is also demonstrated in the way people greet each other. An individual can express this body language by firmly gripping and shaking the other's hand, holding their elbow while doing so, prolonging the handshake, or drawing them in physically. One method people use to counteract or neutralize a power handshake is by offering a weak or limp hand. For more detailed information concerning the Greeting Body Language check out this article.

Another sign of power body language is when a person gazes at you for an extended period of time. This usually has the effect of inducing uneasiness, nervousness or discomfort. Countering a stare down or a prolonged gaze is done by simply turning away or looking elsewhere.

Someone can express power body language when they pull a chair for you to sit down or gesture for you to take a seat. The way to counter this is to prepare yourself such that the selection of where to sit is made by you beforehand.

Another display of power body language is demonstrated when someone makes other people wait for them, especially when this is done on a regular basis. So if a meeting is about to start, the individual will usually arrive late, such that everyone else is kept waiting.

Power body language is also manifested when someone touches you when they are speaking, for example, when they hold your shoulder or steps up close to you. Those who have this type of behaviour also like to set the trend for others to follow. It can be in simple things, like if both of you are walking together, the person may quicken their pace or walk aggressively and expect you to catch up with them.

2. Evaluating Body Language

By definition, evaluating body language is expressed by someone trying to gain insight into someone else or to understand a given situation.

Evaluating body language can be manifested in different ways. These include the use of hand gestures in an explanation, for example, when someone tries to give directions, or convey an idea on how a construction should be done.

Alternatively, the person could be tapping or rubbing their chin or clasping their hands below their chin. If they are bespectacled, you may see them peering over their spectacles rather than looking at you through the lenses. Pursed lips are also a form of evaluating body language.

Professionals like doctors, professors and lawyers often manifest evaluating body language. One other sign that they tend to exhibit is relaxed body language, though in this case, the body is relaxed due to their being deep in thought and busy evaluating a person or a situation.

3. Submissive Body Language

There is a difference between submissive body language in passive body language. Submissive body language is usually an expression that comes as a result of fear and subordination.

This is clearly evident among creatures in the wild, for example when a weaker animal submits to a stronger all the way from the jungle cats to the apes. Cowering, adopting a fetal position and certain other forms of closed body language are expressions of submission.

Avoiding eye contact in public, holding one's head down are indicators that one feels subdued. A person may also widen their eyes or adopt a facial expression of innocence as a child would.

In the context of a conversation, a submissive person will tend to agree with what the other person is saying irrespective of whether it is to their own detriment or not. The nature of the subject being discussed may be contrary to their core values and beliefs, or it may be that they are being taken advantage of. They will still consent to the speaker regardless of the consequences to themselves. They may even smile during the conversation, but it will typically be a subdued smile.

The fact of the matter is that women tend to exhibit more submissive body language than men. However, these signs can also be prevalent in a community due to the prevailing culture of hospitality, for example, among Asian countries. In this case, a woman may exhibit the signs not necessarily because they are personally submissive, but due to the fact that values like honour and respect in family relationships are held very highly in the community.

4. Emotional Body Language

The body language of emotions can be very broad because the average individual experiences many different emotions which keep changing from time to time.

Also, due to the complex nature of human behaviour, emotions can merge or blend with each other, for example, happiness can blend with sadness in the way that it is expressed. This is why people tend to use the expression "mixed feelings" or "mixed emotions" when they try to describe how they reacted toward someone or to an event.

Further, no two individuals are exactly alike when it comes to how they express their feelings since people differ in how they respond to both internal and external stimuli. What may provoke or agitate one person might have no effect whatsoever on another and vice versa.

Due to the complexities of human behaviour and the psychology involved, it is always necessary to have some understanding of the situation involved before reading emotional body language correctly. Some knowledge of the prevailing circumstance will help you discern what the signals mean.

One reason why this is important is that those who care for children can leverage this understanding to help a child communicate verbally what is going on emotionally within them. Another is that certain emotions like anxiety, fear and discouragement can be expressed very similarly in body language.

Anger is one of the most volatile emotions. The common body signs that are associated with anger include a clenched jaw, a flushed/reddening face or neck, clenched fist, invasion of personal space, power or aggressive body language

Signs of nervousness or anxiety are expressed when one breaks out in cold sweat, avoids eye contact, develops a pale face, has a dry mouth, has wet eyes, bursts out in tears, or appears to be at the verge of doing so. Some of these are also signs of embarrassment.

Other signs include twitching eyes, trembling lips, tremoring, stuttering or cracking voice. The person may start to sweat, develop a heightened pulse, tensed muscles become fidgety, or start holding their breath for extended periods of time. They may also have a clenched jaw or fist.

It is possible for people to exhibit nervousness and anxiety through defensive body language or ready body language. So it is important to realize that an emotional body language sign may not always be attributable to a single emotion but to a variety. As stated before, this is why an understanding of the prevailing circumstance is necessary in order to make an accurate reading.

For instance, this will help you discern whether someone is just plain afraid of you as a person, or they're just nervous about the circumstances that they are in. You will then be in a position to know how to assist by dealing with the root cause of the emotion rather than focusing on unrelated subjects.

Sadness can be manifested in a manner of different ways, including drooping of the shoulders, drooping of the body or adopting a limp posture. Aside from obvious signs like teary eyes, trembling lips and a fallen face, you may detect a flat voice when they speak.

The body language of surprise includes suddenly stepping back, raised eyebrows, a widening of the eyes and opening of the mouth. Emotional body language that expresses joy and happiness is usually associated with a smiling face, relaxed body language. In extreme cases, it will be tears, hopping, dancing, wild clapping or flailing of the arms.

For more information on understanding body language, check out the following articles:


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