Body Language: Speaking Without Words – #MTtalk » Mind Tools Blog
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Body Language: Speaking Without Words – #MTtalk

February 27, 2018

Please Join Us!

What: #MTtalk
Where: Twitter
When: Friday, March 2 @ 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. GMT, 11:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Body Language: Speaking Without Words
Host: @Mind_Tools

“Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.”
– Janet Lane

About This Week’s Chat: Body Language Around the World

Body language plays a role in every country and culture. We all use speech, but we also use facial expressions, gestures and posture to strengthen our message, or to convey the true message that our words don’t.

Just as different people use different languages, body language also differs between countries and cultures.

For example, because South Africa is a “melting pot” of ethnic groups, there are many different ways to greet people, and even different ways to shake hands. In some of the ethnic groups, it’s disrespectful to make direct eye contact with a person who is older or more senior than you. In others, you’re seen as untrustworthy if you don’t make eye contact.

The Words We Don’t Say

When someone speaks to us face-to-face, we listen to their words but we also “listen” to their body language. In fact, you can say the same phrase in a different tone of voice, or with a different expression, gesture or posture, and change its meaning completely.

Take the phrase, “You’re just amazing, aren’t you?” If you say it in an exasperated tone, while rolling your eyes and throwing your hands in the air in sarcasm, your true meaning would be the opposite of the words themselves. Whereas saying the same words, accompanied by a warm smile and a firm handshake, would reinforce the message, “Yes, you are genuinely amazing!”

Body Language: Speaking Without Words

Body language is complex, and it carries weight in any conversation. It can confuse people, or help them to understand a message. It can create a good or bad impression. It can reinforce or contradict our words. We can make people feel welcome or unwelcome simply by what our bodies say. And people will make decisions about trust based on what they see in our body language.

In our Twitter poll this week, we asked which element of body language people prefer to focus on. More than 50 percent of respondents said that they focus on facial expression. In second place was tone of voice. Click here to view all the options and the results.

In Friday’s #MTtalk chat, our topic will be “Body Language: Speaking Without Words.” We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:

  • How does paying attention to body language help you? What are the benefits?
  • What role does body language play in creating (or destroying) rapport?
  • How does it contribute to (or combat) harassment or bullying?
  • What pitfalls do we need to avoid when interpreting it?
  • How do you handle a situation when words and body language don’t match?
  • What effect does your body language have on other people? How do you know?
  • In a stressful situation, what happens to your body language, and what effect does that have on you?
  • How can you improve awareness of your own body language, to make sure that you don’t send an unintended message?

Resources

To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.

Making a Great First Impression
Dealing With Angry People
Building Rapport
How Good Are Your Communication Skills?
Interpersonal Skills: Start Here
Body Language
Avoiding Cross-Cultural Faux Pas: Body Language
Can Your Body Language Make You More Powerful?

How to Join Our Chat

Follow us on Twitter to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.

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