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Watch your gestures: How body language reveals what you really think
We don't only communicate with words. A lot of information is passed unconsciously with our gestures, mimics and other body language. Often it's what we don't really want to reveal.
Occasionally we express more than we want to, and interpret signs made by others even if we don't know about it. According to several studies we judge a statement only by seven percent by its content, at least in average. The speaker's impression is made by thirty eight percent of his or her voice, and finally by fifty five percent by body language.
Thus people who control their body language usually come further in professional life even though they're less competent than those who aren't able to present themselves. Anyway to a large extent body language still remains an individual thing. In other words some gestures may have their unique meanings to an individual and can't be interpreted generally.
A typical example is the folded arms gesture. It's said to mean a defensive attitude, but many people do so also in moments of high concentration. However direct eye contact is usually interpreted positively, suggesting honesty and openness. Yet concentrated starring is nothing but creepy. If it's not too wild, gesticulating with your hands is also mostly understood as a good sign, as much as a relaxed seating position. On the other hand sitting with your knees over the edge of the table or with legs wide spread is not making you any more competent, guys.
An important effect of body language is the signaling of proximity or distance. Beware of presenting too much of either, as it may be as unappropriated as showing the opposite of what's expected. And last but not least body language is a matter of culture: in some places direct eye contact means straightforwardness, in others domination.
You of course can work on yourself to become a body language expert, both in reading the messages and employing some gestures for your benefit. Check your internet search engine for more information, and if you really mean business, read a wise book or even attend a body language course. In any case you may start by asking your family or friends to take a closer look at the way you communicate and to give you some feedback. And remember: no matter how you can optimize your self-presentation, the key to being convincing is authenticity.
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