Body language (शारीरिक भाषा) is a type of nonverbal communication in which physical behaviors, as opposed to words, are used to express or convey the information. Such behavior includes facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch, and the use of space. Body language exists in both animals and humans, but this article focuses on interpretations of human body language. It is also known as kinetics. Some of the signs almost every one of us understands, however, Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System brings out in-depth information about body language for our valuable readers.
Sign language (सांकेतिक भाषा)
Body language must not be confused with sign language, which on the other hand, does not have a grammar system and must be interpreted broadly, instead of having an absolute meaning corresponding with a certain movement, so it is not a language like sign language and is simply termed as a “language” due to popular culture.
Physical expressions (शारीरिक भाव)
Facial expressions (चेहरे के भाव)
It is integral when expressing emotions through the body. Combinations of eyes, eyebrow, lips, nose, and cheek movements help form different moods of an individual, for example, happy, sad, depressed, angry, etc.).
A few studies show that facial expression and bodily expression (body language) are congruent when interpreting emotions. Behavioral experiments have also shown that recognition of facial expression is influenced by perceived bodily expression. This means that the brain processes the other’s facial and bodily expressions simultaneously. Subjects in these studies showed accuracy in judging emotions based on facial expression. This is because the face and the body are normally seen together in their natural proportions and the emotional signals from the face and body are well integrated.
Head and neck signals (सिर और गर्दन के संकेत)
The body language of the head should be considered in conjunction with that of the neck. In terms of general posture, the head should be positioned in a manner that feels natural. Body language conveyed by the head and neck involves various ranges of movement. However, it is important to note that the positioning of the head should not cause the neck to be stretched or compressed for too long a period of time without relief.
General body postures (सामान्य शरीर के आसन)
Research has shown that body postures are more accurately recognized when emotion is compared with a different or neutral emotion. For example, a person feeling angry would portray dominance over the other, and their posture would display approach tendencies. Comparing this to a person feeling fearful: they would feel weak, submissive and their posture would display avoidance tendencies, the opposite of an angry person.
Sitting or standing postures also indicate one’s emotions. A person sitting till the back of their chair leans forward with their head nodding along with the discussion implies that they are open, relaxed, and generally ready to listen. On the other hand, a person who has their legs and arms crossed with the foot kicking slightly implies that they are feeling impatient and emotionally detached from the discussion.
Chest specifically (खासतौर पर छाती)
In general terms, the relative fullness or shallowness of the chest, especially around the sternum, can be a key indicator of both mood and attitude. When the body language of the chest is assessed in everyday circumstances, it involves an instinctive assessment of these factors of shape and volume.
If the posture of the chest is fuller, and it is positioned relatively forward, then this is a sign of confidence. If it is thrusting prominently forward, then this may be an indication that the person wants to be socially prominent and make a statement of physical confidence. When the chest is pulled back then this can indicate a less confident attitude.
Shoulders specifically (कंधे विशेष रूप से)
When the shoulders are back with the chest forwards this generally indicates confidence. If the shoulders are positioned forwards with the body hunched then this can be a sign of low confidence or self-esteem; it may also be demonstrative of a feeling of dejection or sadness. Usually, if a person is relaxed their shoulders are positioned lower; if they feel tense or anxiety then they are held in a raised position.
A shrugging of the shoulders, a quick up and down movement, is often given as a sign of not knowing something or being unable to help in some manner. Partly due to their prominent position on the body, strong and flexible shoulders can help to communicate a sense of vitality and natural rhythm.
Body language Gestures (शारीरिक भाषा इशारें)
Gestures are movements made with body parts, for example, hands, arms, fingers, head, legs and they may be voluntary or involuntary. Arm gestures can be interpreted in several ways. In a discussion, when one stands, sits, or even walks with folded arms, it is normally not a welcoming gesture. It could mean that they have a closed mind and are most likely unwilling to listen to the speaker’s viewpoint. Another type of arm gesture also includes an arm crossed over the other, demonstrating insecurity and a lack of confidence.
Shrug (कंधे उचकाने की क्रिया)
The shrug is a good example of a universal gesture that is used to show that a person doesn’t understand what you are saying. “It’s multiple gestures that have three main parts,” they continue:
- Exposed palms to show nothing is being concealed in the hands
- Hunched shoulders to protect the throat from attack
- Raised brow, which is a universal, submissive greeting
Hand gestures (हाथ के इशारे)
Hand gestures often signify the state of well-being of the person making them. Relaxed hands indicate confidence and self-assurance, while clenched hands may be interpreted as signs of stress or anger. If a person is wringing their hands, this demonstrates nervousness and anxiety.
Finger gestures (उंगली के इशारे)
Finger gestures are also commonly used to exemplify one’s speech as well as denote the state of well-being of the person making them. In certain cultures, pointing using one’s index finger is deemed acceptable. However, pointing at a person may be viewed as aggressive in other cultures e.g. people who share Hindu beliefs consider finger-pointing offensive. Instead, they point with their thumbs. Likewise, the thumbs-up gesture could show “OK” or “good” in countries like the United States, France, Lebanon, and Germany. But this same gesture is insulting in other countries like Iran, Bangladesh, and Thailand, where it is the equivalent of showing the middle finger in the US.
Head gestures (सिर के इशारे)
In most cultures, the Head Nod is used to signify ‘Yes’ or agreement. It’s a stunted form of bowing – the person symbolically goes to bow but stops short, resulting in a nod. Bowing is a submissive gesture so the Head Nod shows we are going along with the other person’s point of view. Research conducted with people who were born deafblind shows that they also use this gesture to signify ‘Yes’.
Handshakes (हाथ मिलाना)
These are regular greeting rituals and commonly done on the meeting, greeting, offering congratulations, or after the completion of an agreement. They usually indicate the level of confidence and emotion level in people. Studies have also categorized several handshake styles, e.g. the finger squeeze, the bone crusher (shaking hands too strongly), the limp fish (shaking hands too weakly), etc.
It is popular in the United States and are appropriate for use between men and women. However, in Muslim cultures, men may not shake hands or touch women in any way and vice versa. Likewise, in Hindu cultures, Hindu men may never shake hands with women. Instead, they greet women by placing their hands as if praying. This is very common in India.
However, the practice of shaking hands has become a distant dream for the whole world due to the onset of coronavirus since March 2020.
Breathing (सांस लेना)
Generally, deeper breathing which uses the diaphragm and abdomen more is interpreted as conveying a relaxed and confident impression; by contrast, shallow, excessively rapid breathing is often interpreted as conveying a more nervous or anxious impression.
Some business advisers, such as those who promote neuro-linguistic programming, recommend mirroring a person’s breathing pattern in order to convey an impression of mutual understanding.
Different physical movements (विभिन्न शारीरिक हलचलें)
Covering one’s mouth suggests suppression of feeling and perhaps uncertainty. This could also mean that they are thinking hard and may be unsure of what to say next. What you communicate through your body language and nonverbal signals affects how others see you, how well they like and respect you, and whether or not they trust you.
Body language Types (शरीर की भाषा के प्रकार)
It is the study of eye movement, eye behavior, gaze, and eye-related nonverbal communication. As a social or behavioral science, oculesics is a form of nonverbal communication focusing on deriving meaning from eye behavior. It is also crucial to note that Oculesics is culturally dependent e.g. in traditional Anglo-Saxon culture, avoiding eye contact usually portrays a lack of confidence, certainty, or truthfulness.
However, in the Latino culture, direct or prolonged eye contact means that you are challenging the individual with whom you are speaking or that you have a romantic interest in the person. Also, in many Asian cultures, prolonged eye contact may be a sign of anger or aggression.
It is the study of touching and how it is used in communication. As such, handshakes, holding hands, back-slapping, high fives, brushing up against someone, or patting someone all have meaning.
Based on the Body Language Project, touching is the most developed sense at birth and formulates our initial views of the world. Touching can be used to soothe, for amusement during play, to flirt, to express power, and maintain bonds between people, such as with baby and mother.
Touching can carry distinct emotions and also show the intensity of those emotions. Touch absence of other cues can signal anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, and sympathy depending on the length and type of touching that is performed. Many factors also contribute to the meaning of touching such as the length of the touch and location on the body.
Donald Walton stated in his book that touching is the ultimate expression of closeness or confidence between two people, but not seen often in business or formal relationships. Touching stresses how special the message is that is being sent by the initiator.
A study by Jones and Yarbrough regarded communication with touch as the most intimate and involving form which helps people to keep good relationships with others.
It expresses the idiosyncratic relationship.
Public touch can serve as a ‘tie sign’ that shows others that your partner is “taken”. When a couple is holding hands, putting their arms around each other, this is a ‘tie sign’ showing others that they are together. The use of ‘tie signs’ are used more often by couples in the dating and courtship stages.
This expresses sexual intent. The amount of touching that occurs within a culture is also culturally dependent.
Another notable area in the nonverbal world of body language, which is also known as Proxemics. Introduced by Edward T. Hall in 1966, proxemics is the study of measurable distances between people as they interact with one another. In the book, Body Language, Julius Fast mentioned that the signals that we send or receive to others through body language are reactions to others’ invasions of our personal territories, which links Proxemics an important part of Body Language.
In Latin America, people who may be complete strangers may engage in very close contact. They often greet one another by kissing on the cheeks. North Americans, on the other hand, prefer to shake hands.
The tone of voice (आवाज का स्वर)
Particular tones of voice are linked with particular types of body language. If someone’s tone of voice conveys the impression that they are happy, then their body language will ordinarily convey a similar impression. One of the reasons for this is that when a person’s mood changes so do their breathing pattern. This influences their body language, and also their intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) which is a direct influence.
If they are feeling anxious, their breathing will become too shallow, and their voice will sound thinner and weaker.
Certain body postures can significantly influence the tone of voice. If someone is speaking whilst sitting in a chair with a hunched back, then this obstructs the breathing system.
Body language Attitude (शरीर की भाषा की प्रवृत्ति)
Body language is a major contributor to the attitude a person conveys to others. Albert Mehrabian maintains that during a conversation dealing with feelings and attitudes (i.e., like-dislike), 7% of what is communicated is via what is said, 38% is via tone of voice, and the majority, 55%, is via body language. This is also referred to as the ‘7%–38%–55% Rule’, and is often considered in studies of human communications.
Impression of readiness (तत्परता का प्रभाव)
Body language can convey the impression of a readiness to take action. Whilst this is always observable in the physical sense.
Readiness for physical exertion (शारीरिक परिश्रम के लिए तत्परता)
This is when a person prepares themselves for significant physical exertion. They are thereby in a state of readiness to exert themselves. Their body language is suggestive. They are about to move quickly and more energetically. Also, they appear physically larger, and their movements are often bigger.
Aggressive posturing exaggerates or mimics, the pumped-up appearance in order to convey the impression of potential physical violence. The same posturing may also sometimes involve a clenching of the fists.
Readiness for social interaction (सामाजिक संपर्क के लिए तत्परता)
In terms of future actions, readiness for social interaction may also involve:
- A person preparing their head, neck, and throat for speech
- Arms for gesturing
- Legs and torso for the stance they intend to adopt while speaking i.e. preparing how to stand and what shifts of bodyweight to use before giving a speech
A body language warm-up routine consisting of power poses may also be used by people to prepare themselves for social engagement: ‘According to Harvard professor Amy Cuddy, two minutes of power posing- standing tall, holding your arms out or toward the sky, or standing like Superman, with your hands on hips- will dramatically increase your confidence.’
Body language Applications (शरीर की भाषा का उपयोग)
Fundamentally, body language seems like an involuntary and unconscious phenomenon that adds to the process of communication. Despite that, there have been certain areas where the conscious harnessing of body language has been useful. The use of body language has also seen an increase in application and use commercially.
Body language has seen application in instructional teaching in areas such as second-language acquisition and also to enhance the teaching of subjects like mathematics. Sometimes, the language barrier could be such a problem for foreign people. Therefore, body language would be very beneficial to be used in communication.
Instructional teaching (निर्देशात्मक शिक्षण)
Second-language acquisition (द्वितीय भाषा अभिग्रहण)
The importance of body language in the second-language acquisition was inspired by the fact that to successfully learn a language is to achieve discourse, strategic, and sociolinguistic competencies. Sociolinguistic competence includes understanding the body language that aids the use of a particular language.
Enhancing teaching (शिक्षण को बढ़ाना)
Body language can be a useful aid not only in teaching a second language but also in other areas. The idea behind using it is as a nonlinguistic input. It can be used to guide, hint, or urge a student towards the right answer. Tai in his 2014 paper provides a list of three main characters of body language and how they influence teaching.
Kinesics is the study and interpretation of nonverbal communication related to the movement of any part of the body. In layman’s terms, it is the study of body language. However, Ray Birdwhistell, who is considered the founder of this area of study, never used the term body language and did not consider it appropriate. He argued that what can be conveyed with the body does not meet the linguist’s definition of language.
Birdwhistell pointed out that “human gestures differ from those of other animals in that they are polysemic. They can be interpreted to have many different meanings depending on the communicative context in which they are produced”. And, he “resisted the idea that ‘body language’ could be deciphered in some absolute fashion”. He also indicated that “every body movement must be interpreted broadly and in conjunction with every other element in communication”.
Despite that, body language is still more widely used than kinesics.