Know Your Body Language

Every nonverbal cue goes a long way toward communicating if we want to snuggle or have some space. It can be a wink, a hair stroke, crossed arms… Ninety percent of our communicationis conveyed nonverbally!How we gesture is powerful and women are better at picking up and using signals than men. Reading body language can help you avoid interpretation problems.

RELATED RESEARCH: Believe Others Like You, They Will

The Way You Talk

Paralinguistics is the part of nonverbal communication that conveys emotions and attitudes through tone, pitch, volume, pauses and throat clears. This makes up about 40 percent of our communication.These signals have five times more communicative value than the actual spoken words.Here are some messages that can be conveyed about personality traits:

  • An increased speaking rate implies an individual is more animated and extroverted.
  • A nasal sound is considered undesirable.
  • A weak voice suggests lack of confidence, which lowers credibility.
  • A strong voice shows great confidence.
  • A deeper voice in men means more testosterone at the time of puberty, thus more able to defend the spouse.
  • A higher-pitched female voice means more estrogen at puberty, so more able to birth viable children.
  • Flat tone indicates more withdrawn and masculine characteristics.

QUIZ: How Do You Act in Relationships?

The Way You Move

The body can make more than 700,000 unique movements. (What about Cirque du Soleil performers? Closer to 800,000.) We also can make more than 10,000 separate facial configurations (the face and hands are our most expressive body parts).

All humans make at least a few of the same faces when expressing emotions like happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger and disgust. These expressions are virtually identical, and we don’t have that much control over them. But, we do have the ability to pick out imposters.

A genuine smile causes the corners of your mouth to turn up and the skin around your eyes to crinkle. A non-genuine smile is when your lips part and the corners of the mouth are stretched at the sides.

The Way You Touch

Handshakes are a common way to communicate. At a basic level, it signals trust, goodwill or agreement to a common decision. A firm handshake shows confidence, while one that’s too firm can be threatening. A person with a limp handshake can seem ineffectual. A shake with two hands or that extends to the elbow can convey condolence or care.

We also use tons of touching signals. A pat on the back shows support, and a stroke on the arm, sexual interest.

RELATED RESEARCH: Touch Conveys Subtle Emotions