Helping you get through tough times

Body language

Using body language can be a good way of letting someone know you’re interested in what they’re saying or feel confident about a situation.
mr man by nikki

What is body language?

Body language is how we communicate non-verbally through movements and gestures. We can do this consciously, but can sometimes do it unconsciously too.

Try to stay conscious of our body language. Often people believe it over the words we use. This means our body language can contradict what we say.

Examples of body language are eye contact, posture and facial expressions.

Eye contact

While it’s important to make eye contact when you’re speaking with someone, there are different kinds of eye contact. When you’re making eye contact, you’re letting them know that you’re paying attention. If you’re looking away, they may think you aren’t listening to them.

Too much eye contact, like glaring, could send the message that you are angry.

Facial expressions

Most of us can tell what someone is feeling just by looking at their face (even if they’re trying to hide it). This is why being honest and telling someone how you’re feeling can be important.

Chances are, if you’re upset, the other person can probably tell by your facial expression.

Tone of voice

The way we speak can show others how we’re feeling  i.e. loud or quiet, nervously or excitedly. Sometimes, if we don’t check in on the tone of voice we’re using, we may not realise what we’re portraying to others.

Anything from the tone to volume of our voices can give different messages to people.

If you’re speaking loudly, does this show excitement or anger? If you’re speaking quietly, are you showing them that you’re shy, or just tired?

Posture

Sitting stiffly with your arms crossed and leaning away from the person you’re speaking with, is a typical defensive stance. You may just actually just be cold and trying to stay warm, but if you don’t tell that to someone, they may think you dislike what they’re telling you.

For an open posture have your arms uncrossed, face the person who is speaking to you, and slightly lean forward.

This shows the person you’re relaxed and comfortable with what they are telling you.

Personal space

Everyone is different when it comes to the amount of space they like to leave between themselves and others. Usually the closer you stand to someone, the more intimate the relationship.

Be aware of your personal space. If you don’t feel comfortable with the distance between you and someone else, step back a little.

Standing too close to someone can be intimidating so make sure to respect other people’s space as well. See bullying and personal safety if you feel like your personal space is being violated by someone.

Touch

Sometimes when we want to support someone, or let them know we’re interested, we feel like making physical contact.

Touching someone’s arm or shoulder briefly can be a signal of our interest or a gesture of comfort.

However, make sure it’s appropriate and be cautious about touching someone you don’t know very well. They may have different boundaries.

Feel safe

If you think someone is acting inappropriately around you, or their body language is making you feel uncomfortable, tell someone about it.

A trusted friend, family member or teacher will be able to give you their perspective on whether you should be concerned or not. Sometimes these things are down to cultural differences or differences in boundaries.

If you’re being made feel uncomfortable or threatened by someone you let somebody know.

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This article was last reviewed on 23 April 2017

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