The Language We Should All Be Fluent In

Ciao, hola, namaste, bonjour, ni hao…hi! With approximately 6,909 different languages in the world, can there really be one language that’s most crucial for us to know? Absolutely. It’s called body language (see what I did there? ;)) According to a 1967 study done by Albert Mehrabian, 55% of communication consists of nonverbal cues (aka body language), 38% is vocal tone and inflection, and a mere 7% of communication derives from the actual words being spoken. Think about that. The content of what you’re saying is not even worth half of what is being taken in by the people listening to you. When you consider statistics like this, the importance of body language is clear – the messages that we send, as well as the messages of others, are all coded in body language. So to help you become fluent in this vital language, here are a few body language fun facts!

1. No disguise in the eyes
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and while that may be true, the eyes are also the windows into a person’s preferences. As a general rule, if a person’s pupils constrict when they look at something, it means that they have negative feelings towards whatever it is they’re looking at. On the contrary, if their pupils dilate, it means that they have positive feelings associated with what they’re looking at. Now, I’m not saying that you should get all up in peoples’ faces to measure how much their pupils constrict or dilate when they look at you, but it’s a good nonverbal subtlety to watch out for!

2. Monkey see, monkey do
Mirroring, or copying someone’s body language is a fantastic way to build rapport with that person. It might seem a little weird to mimic someone’s body language, but it’ll subconsciously make the other person feel understood and able to trust you. So the next time you’re in an interview, when your interviewer leans forward, you should lean forward too. If she smiles, smile back. Monkey see monkey do!

3. Feet don’t lie
Since the feet are furthest appendages away from the brain, they give our feelings away the easiest! A person’s feet will usually be pointing in the direction of where their interest lies. For example, if you’re having a conversation with someone, and they’re looking at you, but their feet are facing the door, they may not be as engaged in the conversation as you think!

4. Can’t deny the self-pacify
We’ve all been guilty of this one whether we realize it or not! When we’re nervous, or uneasy, we try to comfort ourselves by massaging our necks, or rubbing our own hands, and so on. You can see this often when people have to do some kind of public speaking. Maybe they play with their hair, or interlock their fingers. Either way, these self-pacifying gestures are usually a clear indication of unease, so keep that in mind the next time you’re giving a presentation!

5. Universal expressions
It’s true that most body language is culturally bound, meaning that a nonverbal cue in one culture may having a different meaning in another culture. However, American Psychologist, Paul Ekman, found that certain facial expressions are universal. These facial expressions include happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, fear, and surprise. A fun fact like this comes in handy during meetings with your foreign business partners, or when you quit work and travel the world ;).

 

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Besides body language, another non-verbal cue that will affect how people perceive you is the way you dress. Why not make it count? Send the people the right message in some Anjé!


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