Published: 10/04/2013 - Updated: 12/11/2016
Author: Miriam Reyes6 Comments
Our gestures say a lot, sometimes you do not need to say a word for others to interpret how we feel, since our body speaks for itself. Knowing what gestures mean may be important not only to know but to learn to decipher the silent messages of those around us.
What is nonverbal communication?
It is an unconscious process by which information is transmitted by the following mechanisms:
- Body movements
- Facial Gestures
- The body space
- Other things that speak to us, such as our environment, mimicking, family photos, trophies, etc.
- Our clothing (accessories, hair, makeup, etc.)
Interpretation of some gestures
Looking at nails: This is a sign of disconnection with the environment, therefore, the person who is looking at their nails is very likely to be thinking about something else.
Stroking head: Passing the hand over the forehead to the nape is usually associated with anxiety.
Palm on the cheek or the side of the face: It can be interpreted as an unexpected disappointment.
Scratching the neck behind the ear: means doubt or disbelief.
The thumb inside a closed fist: It can be interpreted as discomfort.
Running fingers through the corner of the mouth: Indicates disapproval, or negative evaluation and rejection.
Touching or rubbing the nose: It is a sign of disagreement.
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Touching earlobe: attraction and implied interest, this is because that area of the body receives more blood flow when there is a stimulus to awaken some excitement, often associated with approval too.
The index finger touching the lower lip: Indicates the presence of positive encouragement and interest in the individual.
When gestures and words are contradictory
Day to day during conversation, we communicate and express ourselves through words, however, sometimes our body language effectively negates the words coming out of our mouths due to the fact that they are completely contradictory.
However, our gestures and body language can also change their meaning depending on the context, so when interpreting a person we must consider the following:
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What the person expressed verbally, setting, classroom, office, path, etc.
The emotional and physical state, if a person has a cold or is suffering from a headache, it is understandable that his behavior may be slightly unusual.
The presence of others, especially those who are unknown to the individual.
About our insecurity
Our body also displays evident gestures when we feel insecure, pinching or pulling the arm hairs, eyebrows or neck, biting the lips, the corners or inner cheeks of the mouth, pulling hair, drawing while speaking on the phone: All of these are signs of probable insecurity.
- They are usually acts that are developed during growth, especially in childhood – if we had to adapt to a situation that generated fear or anxiety for an extended period of time, this is often replicated in adulthood.
- Biting your thumb or thumbnail for example, occurs when we seek security against a hostile situation.
- It is important to be alert to these behaviors or acts that are often made unconsciously, as they can reveal quite a lot about us.
When we sit with another person, our position may reveal a lot about us. For example sitting at the head of the table not only shows leadership or status, but it is also an indication of a dominant personality and the affirmation of one's ideas.
When a person sits next to another, this demonstrates collaboration, friendliness and confidence.
Sitting in front of another person shows opposing views and this usually occurs during negotiations, but are based on opposing views.
Another friendly position is when one person is facing the other, but not diagonally, this implies cooperation and security.
Learning to decipher what our body transmits can be complicated and requires a lot of observation, however knowing the language of the body also promotes self-awareness and control.
About the author
I am very interested in all this, maybe we all could learn to read the body but then people would not be so interesting and maybe you would realize that no one really worth it, but that is only my opinion as I not really a human lover, that is up to you.
Wow this article is very helpful, I just have tried the tips that you explain here in some of my friends and I understood a lot of things inside their minds, this is so true that I am pretty amazed, I am so glad to find things like this one, so interesting and helpful at the same time
The body lenguage shows everything that the mouth and the mind refuses to say, and maybe you don’t even believe this is true, or you haven’t realized, but it is so true, so I find this amazing, but there are many other things that show signals in the body and there is even a book that help you understad all of them
This is going to help me so good in school to analize if my classmates are telling me the true or what, because I tend to say yes to anything, I know this is a problem of mine, but now I am going to look at them very closely before answering them to know what are they means, thanks a lot
Oh man, to think that verbal communication is the ONLY form of communicating is like scraping the top layer of icing off a 5 tier cake and saying you ate cake. Words are the best thing we have at creating “tangible” communication…but communication – communion between people – is not tangible in its very existence. The way we feel, think, experience, look, express ourselves…there’s just so many ways to interpret someone, and verbal is just one of the innumerable ways of communication.
This was a really interesting read – thanks very much for this article! It’s amazing to think of all the different ways that we humans have invented and evolved in order to communicate with one another – body language can reveal a lot about somebody but be careful not to misinterpret that! They could simply be scratching an itch or moving their hand….