Our postures, facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, when combined, all create a complex layer of communication known as body language. It’s our most effective and natural method for communicating in person with others, hence the age old wisdom that the way you say something often matters more than what you say.
Body language refers to all of the nonverbal signals we send both consciously and subconsciously, and it plays a huge role in the way we view others and the way they view us. The manner in which we stand, the aggressiveness (or lack thereof) in our gestures, and the way our shoes, hair, and eyes look, all play a role in these judgments.
On top of this, whether we appear to be awake or tired, nervous or confident, and untidy or clean, contributes to the signals we are sending to each other. To add another layer of complexity to the mix, the volume, speed, and pitch we use to speak adds to the cues we are sending and perceiving.
One famous study in particular found that only 7 percent of communication between human beings is based on words themselves, with the rest being body language and tone of voice. Although this has been disputed over time, most still agree that nonverbal signals and cues dominate the words we choose to use.
This is an intuitive language, a process that most of us already know how to use, that happens mostly on the subconscious level. When you start to pay closer attention to this communication, both yours and that of others, you will begin to see more than you originally noticed. This opens up a new world of possibility.
By studying and reading more about this subject, you can teach yourself to recognize patterns and nonverbal cues in behavior that allow you to not only understand people better, but perceive them with accuracy.