Understanding Body Language

body-language-featuredIf something hard and heavy is thrown at you -- you've ticked her off. You may have missed some more subtle hints, like when she was throwing your bags out the door. It doesn't necessarily have to come to this, if you had an understanding of body language. Deborah Bull says, "Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words." I don't know about you, but if life is a test, I may have missed this lesson.

Of course I'm not the only one. It's reported that a collage professor said, "Kids used to sit back and listen to lectures. Now they're leaning in. Body language has changed." I'm not sure this statement correctly identifies a shift in the language; the shift in the position could mean it's easier to hide the cellphone.

When you stop and think about it, this is how animals and pets communicate with us. They can't talk, but they communicate through body language.

One time when I was 12 years old, I was doing some chores on the hobby farm my parents owned, when a pony who was staked out in the backyard came over and gave me a hard nudge with his head. He wanted a sugar cube. We often carried them in our jacket pockets as a treat for the ponies, but on this particular day, there weren't any. So how do you tell a pony that he isn't getting a sugar cube?

I reached in my pocket and brought out an empty palm and showed it to him. That's a pretty good example of convincing body language, isn't it? However the pony wasn't buying this story. He grabbed my middle finger between his teeth and was applying enough pressure to really hurt. My yanking and jumping wasn't making the situation any better. He just laid those ears back and his eyes were glowing. And yes! I got the message. I could tell he was displeased. But that pony wasn't reading my subtle attempt at body language to show him I wasn't too happy with him either, so I had to take a more direct approach. I punched him as hard as I could in the nose with my free hand. He snorted and reared up a bit, but he got the message and let go of my finger.

As Edward R. Murrow says:

...a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts ... the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere.

Animals are much easier to understand than people. Although like people, they get a feeling for whether or not you're telling the truth, and then, like humans, they choose whether or not they believe you. As I've demonstrated, you want to make sure an animal knows you're telling the truth. They can be quite suspicious by nature. Knowing that we are, at times, more subtle than animals, there are certain clues given by body language that can help you decide if someone is telling you the truth.

By understanding these body language clues, we can improve our ability in understanding what someone is trying to communicate to us; even so far as how they position their body to us when speaking. At the same time, understanding how those who are more perceptive to this method of communication will read your body language, you can learn to guard against giving off the wrong signals by learning how it is interpreted.

I downloaded a couple of free Kindle books today on the subject of body language. They both offer a lot of insight into the mysterious world of weird communication. They are only free for the next 24-48 hours as an Amazon promotion. Here they are:

I think they both offer a lot of information for understanding people. I'm not so much worried about ponies these days; I got that down to a science. I know how to communicate with them. Plus, they're easier to understand, even if they think you're a liar.

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