What is body language: know some tricks and how to interpret them

What is body language: know some tricks and how to interpret them

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You may have heard this term and how important it is in our communication. But do you know what body language is? Body language is part of what we call non-verbal communication – which, in addition to the signals emitted by the body, also includes tone of voice, pauses and resourcefulness in speech.

As important as the meaning of the words, the signals emitted through non-verbal communication are extremely important for the interpretation of the message. Whether it is explicit or not.

Therefore, for the HR professional to know how to understand body language and better process the signals and information transmitted by employees, it is necessary to learn to read these body expressions.

Next, we will talk more about what body language is, what are the main signals emitted by the body and how to read body language in the context of internal communication corporate. Keep reading!

What is body language?

Body language is the set of movements, postures or gestures made in a conscious or unconscious way, subtle or explicit, which carry some kind of meaning in the context of interpersonal comunication.

In other words, body language is the transmission of messages to the interlocutor through the expression of the body. They can be facial, postural, visual or gestural. Some examples of signals transmitted by body language are:

  • duration of a look;
  • hand movements;
  • arms crossed or uncrossed;
  • facial expression;
  • restless legs and feet, etc.

Because they are more subjective than verbal language, these signs are much more difficult to interpret. Especially those more subtle and unconscious.

This is because body language, in most cases, is controlled by unconscious stimuli – both for those who send the message and for those who interpret it.

Although some gestures are consciously externalized, others are more subtle and even hidden.

Therefore, the perception of messages transmitted by body language is not always conscious. In other words, the receiver can capture information transmitted by the gestures of his interlocutor without realizing it.

How to read body language?

Just watch a play, a soap opera, a movie or a series to realize the weight of body language. In many moments, we can interpret messages simply by the look or facial expression of a good actor.

In other words: we already know how to understand body language, even if we are not aware of it. Through this ability, it is possible to perceive personality traits, such as low self-confidence or behavior, such as lies.

There are different emotions and feelings that we trigger when moving each part of the body. This also influences the meaning of the gestures and expressions that produce body language.

Here are some of the body's signs and possible readings:

  • upright posture, agile and firm movements are usually a sign of confidence;
  • hands on the waist during the interaction represent aggressiveness;
  • restless feet and legs show anxiety or impatience;
  • crossed arms can be a sign of defensive posture;
  • sitting with open legs demonstrates relaxation;
  • low eyes can be an indication of demotivation;
  • hands on face or chin show reflection;
  • open hands and palms facing upwards are traces of sincerity and openness
  • tilting body and head towards something or someone shows interest;
  • looking away during the interaction can be a sign of lies or insecurity.

How does body language help in recruitment and selection?

When the recruiter knows how to understand the candidate's body language, it is easier to select the ideal professional for the vacancy and the company.

How to understand body language?

The standardized interpretations that we showed in the previous topic serve as a basis for the interpretation of the most common signals emitted by people.

However, for the Human Resources professional can make an assertive interpretation of body language, a more thorough analysis is needed.

Here are some tips on how to read body language:

1. Know the rule 7-38-55

Despite applying only to very specific contexts, the famous rule 7-38-55 developed from the teacher's research Albert Mehrabian, made in the 60s, is still quite relevant for HR professionals.

According to the rule, in situations where there is ambiguity or inconsistency in the signals emitted in communication, body language is the most reliable.

It would have 55% relevance in the transmission of the message, exceeding 38% relative to the tone of voice and 7% of the content of the words.

2. Make eye contact

Eye contact is one of the best ways to measure someone's level of self-confidence and reliability. Therefore, when interacting with a collaborator or candidate for a job, always try to make eye contact.

Sustaining the gaze is usually a sign of confidence, while those who look downwards show shyness.

People who tell lies tend to avoid eye contact, but those who deliberately lie and who know this pattern will tell lies by staring into the eyes.

3. Pay attention to posture

As we said, body language goes beyond gestures and facial expressions, although they are more easily interpreted.

It is relatively easy to read someone's expressions on the face. However, the posture of the body, which usually goes unnoticed, also expresses valuable information.

According to expert Amy Cuddy, in her TedTalk on the influence of body language on our behavior, a change in posture can provide immediate reactions in the brain.

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This is an indication that, even if the employee's body posture is not conscious, it will have a direct influence on their behavioral profile and personality.

4. Observe in “secret”

There are contexts in which people tend to act less spontaneously – whether by controlling the body more or letting go of emotions.

It is normal for professionals to be nervous at important meetings, presentations in public, job interviews, etc.

Therefore, a good way to analyze someone's personality traits is to observe how their body behaves when “no one is looking” or during routine activities.

This is a good way to capture body language signals more naturally and, as a result, to have more reliable evidence about that person's personality.

5. Be wary of extremes

Especially during interviews, the HR professional must pay attention not only to what is transmitted unconsciously, but also to what is transmitted explicitly.

This is because the candidate can try to transmit messages to the recruiter on purpose. Clarity is needed to analyze whether there is a mismatch between explicit and subtle information in body language.

Therefore, “be suspicious” both of those candidates who show a lot of self-confidence, and of those who behave in a very insecure manner. Pay attention to the more subtle signs and try to capture what is spontaneous and what is contradictory in body language.

Read too: Structured interview: how to be more accurate when recruiting new employees?

Knowing what body language is and how to understand it is a differential that helps HR to deal better with employees. And, in addition, it is an excellent strategy for choosing the right people at the time of recruitment and selection new candidates.

Remember that body language and verbal language often contradict each other. That's because people don't pay much attention to body language when expressing themselves. And that, is one more reason to pay attention to her and trust her signals.

And if you liked the tips in our post today, take the time to share the content with your friends on social networks!

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