Communication Alarm System 

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After publishing my last article Listening Awareness, one of the comments I received was that although the article by itself was very good, we should also remember that there is more to good communication skills than just listening…it also involves being able to interpret body language.
How true! So this time around I want to help us become aware of it and learn even better communication skills by utilizing it.
So what is body language? It’s a subconscious attempt to create balance between feelings and appearances. It’s communication by movement or placement of our bodies such as our standing or sitting posture, facial expressions and gait. Try watching a TV program with the sound off and we’ll usually be able to interpret when a person is aggressive or surprised or dejected — that’s body language.
Granted, body language is not always fool proof because it should be interpreted in conjunction with what is being said and it can be affected by the speaker’s individual habits. It’s not a language in and of itself; it’s just a part of the communication spectrum. For example, if we see a person across the room crying, we probably won’t know if they are upset or joyful or frightened because crying can symbolize many different emotions.
Below are just some samples of body language and their possible interpretations:

Biting nails = Nervous, insecure

Drumming fingers = Restless, impatient

Rubbing both hands = Anticipating, impatient

Resting cheek on the hand = Thinking, evaluating

Folded arms across the chest = Disagreement

Eyes downcast = Guilt, boredom

Rubbing eyes = Disbelief, doubt

Rubbing the bridge of the nose = Uncertain, rejection

Resting the head on the palms = Boredom, despair

Head titled to one side = Interested, listening

Hands on hips = Aggressive, authoritative

Kicking foot while walking or sitting =Boredom

Leaning forward = Interested
Now, remember to take into consideration a person’s habits (if we know them). For example, when I fold my arms across my chest it’s usually because I am cold or evaluating with my head tilted. So that’s my point: body language is not one-size-fits-all in every situation.
However, if we become more aware of our own body language and habits, it will help us become more observant of others. In doing this we will be able to better judge if the person or people we are speaking with are paying attention, if they care about what we’re saying, if we’re hitting a nerve, or if they are not being honest with us. It’s a communication warning/alarm/alert system that we’re already equipped with if only we know how to use it properly. How cool is that?