Blogs, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms are filled with interactive posts telling you the secrets of body language. What no one tells you is that these are not universal! Except for a few core actions, the meaning behind the rest can be different. To begin with, numerous cultures veritably differ in how they perceive body language and specific actions. What’s acceptable and even respectful in certain cultures can be a downright insult in other cultures. Sounds unbelievable, right!?
Moreover, the actions you might be recommended to practice may not even be body language! Body language is a way of communicating without using words. Most of our body language comes instinctively to us; you cannot control most of your body language. They reflect and speak what they feel even if you don’t use so many words to say so. The exception to this is hand gestures and posture.
Yet, recent studies show that you can affect how you feel simply by forcing yourself to follow certain postures and other body language cues.
Why It Matters
While it is true that it may vary according to different cultures, one cannot deny the effects of body language. Even when one is quiet, the feelings are well and truly conveyed. Whether we realize it or not, we pick up on the cues of others and vice versa.
Ever wondered why you walked out of certain conversations with negative feelings, although the words were sweet and coated with sugar? That’s because you subconsciously picked up on the words they were not speaking. Their true feelings, to be specific.
More than anything, understanding the secrets of body language matters because it can help you feel good about yourself too.
Dissecting the Truth
Body language goes deeper than what these articles will tell you. To clear any confusion, take a look at the list below:
- Facial Expressions
Not the general wide smiles but rather the subtle facial expressions that are subconsciously picked up. They can convey feelings such as happiness, anger, sadness, frustration, etc.
- Body Postures
Stems from unconscious feelings towards oneself, conversation partner, and feelings in general. It can reflect self-confidence and self-esteem, how you feel about whom you’re talking to, and the level of comfort you feel in your environment.
- Hand, Neck, shoulders
The most difficult to fake is as these gestures eventually revert to their original position. It can reflect interest, boredom, threatening or feeling threatened, etc.
What the mind wants others to perceive the self as! Hand gestures can easily be trained.
It is utterly subconscious but can be helped with meditation and breathing exercises.
The tenor of your voice can tell a lot of things about you to your conversation partner.
Most people look up the secrets of body language to affect others’ perceptions of themselves. The point is to change your perception of yourself, and the rest will follow.
Here are a few tips you can follow to improve your general body language to feel confident and successful. This, in turn, will reflect in your manner and enable others to see you as you are.
Use Your Hands Wisely
The hands are often a big clue to how you feel. Constantly rubbing your hands together can denote discomfort and wanting to get away. Hiding your hands in your pocket, jacket, or in any other way denotes shame, hiding, and suspicious nature.
On the flip side, a bold show of palms is a power pose. Ever felt how awkward it is to sit in a conference room with your palms exposed? Do it until it becomes second nature, and you’ll feel confidence bloom within yourself.
Not maintaining eye contact can be seen as an absolute sign of disrespect across many cultures. On the other hand, it is a natural strategy that our brain employs to take a moment to process information or think. While we are looking into someone’s eyes, we’re constantly picking up cues and processing information. So when we need to think about something, it can be helpful to look away for a second.
On the other hand, if you have difficulty maintaining eye contact, you may have anxiety, autism, or other issues. For some, it can be improved with practice, and for others, not so. With eye contact being so complicated, it is best not to put so much emphasis on it.
No matter what you say, your body posture often gives you away. While you may find many articles telling you to sit straight and keep your back as straight as a rod, your body will still not speak the language of confidence. The only way to truly reflect confidence is to become confident yourself. You can do this by practicing positive affirmations every day. Do this in front of a mirror to make real changes.
The more confident you become, the more your body language will reflect it.
The key takeaway for all of us is that it’s not universal! The second most important takeaway is that our words can lie, but our bodies cannot. It is best to take this body language advice at face value and work on ourselves instead. The very first step to improve is to accept yourself. Accept yourself even if you feel you’re not confident enough or have enough self-esteem. Acceptance is truly the key to change.
To add to this, always trust the process. As you have more experiences in life and interact with people, you will grow naturally. Then you won’t feel the need to use these methods.