Body language is the way in which people (and other animals) communicate their emotions and intentions. It has evolved to allow animals to convey messages to their peers (e.g. ‘here’s food’, ‘I I am sexually available’, or ‘a predator is coming’) and also to other animals (e.g. ‘if you go near my cubs I will bite’). Therefore body language is largely limited to messages that animals might use and cannot convey abstract or complex messages.
Body language can be divided into functional gestures and symbolic gestures.
- Functional body language is the gestures that are a practical response to the surroundings that gives an indication of one’s emotions, for examples straightening up (to see better) when someone enters the room or turning eyes after a pretty woman passing on the street. Functional gestures are usually harder to fake.
- Symbolic body language is the gestures that have developed specifically for communications (such as a human’s smile or a dog’s wagging of tail). Those are easier to fake.
Body language is active working at all times and communicates our emotions, even if we are not aware of it – for example, even when we are sleeping it communicates how restful we are.
So what is the point of learning body language? Well, it is wired very deeply into our brain, so we use it constantly and have been doing so our whole life whether we have been to a ‘body language course’ or not. That is how we know to keep away from a local bully and recognize when we’re being flirted with. However, body language is still prone to errors and miscommunications that can be avoided. Also, learning to understand body language enables us to understand our strengths and weaknesses better, and improve ourselves.
The elements of Body Language