Loading

Alison's New App is now available on iOS and Android! Download Now

Study Reminders
Support
Text Version

Set your study reminders

We will email you at these times to remind you to study.
  • Monday

    -

    7am

    +

    Tuesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Wednesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Thursday

    -

    7am

    +

    Friday

    -

    7am

    +

    Saturday

    -

    7am

    +

    Sunday

    -

    7am

    +

Defining Body Language, Scope and RelevanceGood morning dear participants and welcome to the first module of our course on BodyLanguage. As all of us are aware, body language is an integral part of our professionalcommunication. A positive body language helps us in projecting ourselves in a moresuccessful manner. In today’s module, we would try to understand the basic definitionsof body language, the scope and relevance.The study of body language is important for us as it alerts us to the inconsistencies,which exists between what one says and also what one conveys. Because it is with thehelp of the micro and macro expressions of body language that we can comprehend theattitudes and emotions of people in dietetic as well as in interpersonal situations.We can make out whether a particular individual is humble or arrogant or is beingcondescending or too demanding etcetera and at the same time, whether one is talkingunder certain depression or is in angry mode whether one is impatient or indifferentetcetera. So, these signals of body language help us to understand the true personalityand the true intention of a person. We can say that the body language alerts us to thepossibilities of reading an individual in the same manner in which we can read a bookand decipher its meaning. We can find out the inconsistencies, which exists between theverbally statements and the nonverbal communication with the basis of the intonations,gestures, voice control etcetera and therefore, we understand the truth and then we canalso provide the necessary feedback accordingly.Nonverbal aspects of communication have macro as well as micro expressions. Now,what exactly is the difference between the macro and micro expressions of bodylanguage? Macro expressions are those expressions and aspects of body language whichare visible to us. For example, if I smile (this smile is visible), it is a macro expression.On the other hand, micro expressions are those expressions which are very tiny almostfleeting expressions, but it is the truth which is communicated through micro expressionsin particular. There have been several audio recordings when people have been asked todescribe their colleagues for example, or a particular movie. It has been noticed thatduring these audio and also the video recordings, people were careful to use positiveepithets to depict their colleagues. However, in the micro expressions one could readtheir association and their intentions towards the other people. For example, we couldmake out whether a person likes the colleague whom he or she has been asked todescribe or not or what type of animosity or what level of friendship might exist betweenthe two.These, micro expressions may be very tiny for example, there may be a twitch in amuscle just below the eye or there may be a twitch of a muscle over here (hemifacial) ormy smile may try to communicate something, but the eyes contradict that emotion.Now, these micro expressions are significant aspect of body language much moresignificant than the macro ones. The phrase micro expressions was used for the first timeby Paul Ekman in his book Telling Lies which had come out in 1985. These macro andmicro expressions are basically communicated through our touch, glance, eye contact,volume those aspects which exactly are a part of our body and at the same time thoseaspects which are not necessarily or strictly speaking a part of our body. For example,the dress we wear the smell which we wear the accessories which we carry with us. Butin today’s highly competitive world we find that these aspects are also an extension ofwhat we know in understand as body language. And therefore, we find that because ofthe growing presence of media, the growing competitiveness in the business world aswell as in other professions a significant understanding of body language is must.Media presence has also made our obsession with this particular field of a study,heightened. Particularly our obsession with celebrity has also enhanced our awareness ofit. We find that magazines as well as video channels TV channels carry endless storieson the body language of celebrities. Body language of actress actresses political andsocial leaders are disseminated endlessly.I would refer to a very interesting incident here where one FBI agent tried to analyze theeyelid fluttering of Madonna to see whether she was lying about her pregnancy on NBCtelevision program. So, we can find that the enhanced media awareness as well as thecontinuous growth in the technology today has made this particular aspect of a study asignificant one.If we look at the definitions of body language or the nonverbal aspects ofcommunication, we find that different dictionaries have tried to define them ininteresting manner. The Twelfth Edition of Collins English Dictionary, which waspublished in 2012 has defined it as the “nonverbal imparting of information by means ofconscious or subconscious bodily gestures and postures etc”.So, here we could find that this definition has concentrated on the communication ofinformation through conscious as well as unconscious aspects of our micro and macrosignals. These two aspects that is the conscious and unconscious ones we would discussafter a couple of minutes. Webster’s New World College Dictionary in it is Fifth Edition,which came out in 2012 defines it as “gestures unconscious bodily movements facialexpressions etcetera, which service nonverbal communication or as accompaniments to aspeech”. Hedwig Lewis has described body language as “the communication of personalfeelings, emotions, attitudes and thoughts through body movements; gestures, postures,positions and distances either consciously or involuntarily, more often subconsciouslyand accompanied or unaccompanied by the spoken language”.In all these definitions I think that the definition by Hedwig Lewis is by far morecomplete than the other dictionary definitions.Body language or nonverbal aspects of communication can be used either in addition towords or even independent of words. For example, in a crowded room we can try toattract the attention of a friend or a colleague by making certain gestures even though thevoice is not audible. At the same time we find that when we look at the communicationin its totality that is the words as well as the nonverbal aspects of communication we canimagine the totality of the situation. The complete picture emerges before us only whenwe combine the two. It also provides the immediate feedback, for example, we aretalking to a person and then looking at the expressions of that individual we can makeout how much has been internalized by that person or whether some more clarificationsare required about a particular aspect.These aspects make it very important in interpersonal and group interactions becausemore than half of what we try to say is communicated not through words, but through thenonverbal aspects of communication. Even though the codified studies of nonverbalaspects of communication is started much later we find that mankind has always beenaware of its significance. In literature and in arts there have been in numerous referencesto it.The literary and artistic awareness can be traced as early as Shakespeare. Shakespearehas particularly alluded to the expression of eyes and he has often looked at eyes as anexpression of human character. For example, in Much Ado about Nothing he says “Letme see his eyes, that when I note another man like him, I may avoid him” or in Henry IVhe says “I see a strange confession in thine eye” or in Henry VI, Part II, he says “looknot upon me, for thine eyes are wounding”. So, we can see that as early as therenaissance time people were aware of the significance of body language and whatexactly was their role in communicating ideas, information and emotions to others.In art also we find that various painters and artists have utilized richly the nonverbalaspects of communication.I particularly refer to this painting The Cardsharps by the famous Italian painterCaravaggio who had painted this particular canvas in late 16th or early 17th century and hehas drawn on kinesics the body postures to paint a libelous scene from the low everydaylife of his contemporary society.This particular fresco painting is an iconic painting by Michelangelo. It is a part of theSistine Chapels ceiling, which was painted during 1508-1512. It is an iconicrepresentation of humanity where god himself is extending his hand to humanity and wecan look at the expression, which has been presented here with the way the fingers havestarted to talk to each other. So, simply by looking at the fingers we can try to make outthe meaning which the artist wants to convey.However the painting which is closest to my heart is a painting by one of mycountrymen. This is a 19th century painting by Vishwanath Dhurandhar. In thisparticular painting he has presented before us- a scene at a Hindu wedding. We can lookat it and find that each person has a distinct face, the outfit is also intricately detailed andthe body language of each person who has been painted here is dissimilar. So, you wouldfind that each character in this painting speaks a different language and we can make outthe intentions, the sensitivities and the social standings simply by looking at the bodylanguage painted so cleverly by the artist here.Even outside the domains of literature and fine arts we find that there has been acontinuous professional awareness of body language. It has been used continuously byroman orators and rhetoricians and I particularly referred to Cicero and Quintillion inparticular who had emphasized on the harmony of a speech gesture and face and alsorecognize the significance of the tone of the voice.It was particularly important in the contemporary rudimentary democratic situations. Inthe 18th and 19th centuries we find that the European elocution movement alsoemphasized on the body movements and vocalizations. The earliest academic study canbe credited to Charles Darwin, whose work The Expression of the Emotions in Man andAnimals was published in 1872. He studied facial expressions in the context ofevolutionary principles. Even though his finding was based on largely anecdotal data, wefind that most of the comments which Darwin had made in 1872 are still valid and theyhave got further validation on the basis of more recent scientific investigation.However the codified academic study into the science of body language has started onlyin the 20th century. We find that it was in the 1940s rather late 1940s that at theuniversity of Pennsylvania professor Ray Birdwhistell is started looking at the nonverbalaspects of communication. He was an anthropologist and very soon we find that severalother people were drawn to this research. Several terms which we still use to a study thefield of body language, but invented by professor Ray Birdwhistell and his fellowresearchers. For example, (Refer Time: 14:33) Birdwhistell use the term kinesics in1952.George L Trager use the term ‘paralinguistic’s, somewhere around 1950s E T Hall usedthe word Proxemics in 1959. Professor Ray Birdwhistell was also joined by AlbertMehrabian was a faculty at UCLA and as I have read somewhere though I do not recallthe exit reference, he was also perhaps a professionally trained ballet dancer. So, hisinsights into the art form also provided a study material to Professor Ray Birdwhistell.Professor ray Birdwhistell and Albert Mehrabian is started to record people’s reactionsunder lab control situations to find out the significance and the true nature of nonverbalaspects of communication, they primarily studied nonverbal aspects of communicationwhich they termed as NVC in order to comprehend the structures of human interaction asa whole but very soon we find that this study started to have an overreaching influenceover the contemporary fields of a study.They had never use the word body language. In fact, in all their writings they have usedconsistently nonverbal aspects of communication or any of the terms which they hadused earlier. However, ‘body language’ was a layman’s term for ‘nonverbal’ aspects ofcommunication which was popularized in 1970s with the publication of a book by JuliusFast. Body language was a title of this book and as sometimes happens the title becomescatchier than the book, it also has happened with another book the title of which is I’mOk You’re Ok.So, the same phenomena had happened with body language also we do not remembermuch about the book itself; however, the title has remained in our memory since then.Now, what exactly is the significance of body language? These researchers, ProfessorRay Birdwhistell and Mehrabian noted and recorded almost a million nonverbal cues andsignals. Albert Mehrabian at one moment had suggested that the total impact of amessage is a combination of verbal content paralanguage and body language. He had putverbal content at 7% paralanguage that is tone of the voice intonations inflectionsetcetera, at 35% and body language that is gestures postures eye contact etcetera at 58%.Even though he has later on modified it and said that it cannot be rigidlycompartmentalized as it is. But the fact remains that in any face to face communicationparticularly the verbal content is the least important, what is more important is the bodylanguage, the kinesics aspects of it their facial features and the paralanguage.In this module I am listing 9 components of body language, which we are going todiscuss in detail later on. So, lets look at them one by one.The first aspect of body language which we are going to study is Proxemics. Proxemicsis a study which analyzes the communicators sense of physical distance with therecipient in terms of signals and codes; that means, how much distance we want to keepbetween the two of us, if it is a dyadic situation between us and the other people if it is aninterpersonal group situation.Now, at the same time we find that Proxemics does not only study the distance betweenthe two or more interactants, it also looks at the arrangement of the space in differentsocio cultural patterns.The second aspect which we shall study is known as Oculesics or the study of eyemovement. Oculesics studies and analyzes the behavior of the eyes the language of theeyes the movements of the eyes and whether it is different in a right handed person andin a left handed person. So, these aspects are studied in Oculesics the different type ofgazes and their interpretations in a professional world are important to understand for allof us.The third aspect, which we shall look at is known as Haptics which is the language oftouch or let us say it also studies the absence of touch in those situations, where itmatters it analyzes communication which is done through human touch and how thistouch communicates our feelings and emotions whether it is socially appropriate or not.In the visuals you can look at how the same touch can convey different attitudes andemotions to people.The fourth is Kinesics. Kinesics studies body gestures and postures in the movement ofthe people particularly. There are three aspects of Kinesics, which we shall study andthese 3 aspects are known as Emblems, Illustrators and Affect Displays. Emblems looksat the codified meanings of fixed symbols. For example, the underwater swimmers coathas a particular codified meaning or for example, or traffic signal persons actions. So, orthe language of the deaf and the dumb.So, these are emblems and therefore, because it is a codified study of fixed symbols intheir meanings we are not going to look at this aspect of kinesics. We would focus on thenext two aspects that is illustrators and affect displays of kinesics. What exactly areillustrators?These are those micro and macro signals which illustrate what we want to say. Forexample, if I want to say yes I would not speak it out with a deadpan face and say ‘yes’, Iwould rather say ‘yes’ or I would not say ‘no’ in a deadpan manner I would say ‘no’. So,you would find that these expressions are illustrators no human being can speak withoutintroducing some component of body language in one’s communication.It is true that those of us who are extroverts use body language in a much more relaxedmanner our gestures and postures would be more expressive. On the other hand a personwho is shy and introvert would be using less gestures, but it is very strange to look at aperson using a speech without illustrating it with body language.Affect displays are also a type of an illustrator. The only difference is that illustrators,illustrate the true intention of a person, but affect displays allow us to tell a lie.Now there are certain social situations where a polite lie is perhaps expected. You mighthave visited a friend and you have being served a pudding or a piece of cake or somecookies, which are atrociously prepared. So, what do you say? “It’s tasty” no, you wouldsay “oh! It’s so yummy it’s so tasty” but you say it with a false smile in order tocommunicate your happiness and at the same time in order to appreciate the truesentiments over which it has been served to you.So, sometimes you would find that these polite lies are the requirements of a society,these are affect displays. However, we cannot continuously use these affect displays tohide the true intention of our heart. Very soon within a couple of seconds, the trueintention comes out and therefore, affect displays can serve their purpose only for maybea minute or two unless and until we are trained actors.The fifth aspect of body language is known as paralanguage, it is everything which isrelated with our voice except the meaning of the words. We can pronounce the sameword in order to convey different types of meanings. Those of us who are in teachingknow how to use it very effectively, if there is a late comer in the class we may allow thelate comer, but we would allow it with very effective paralanguage to convey whatexactly we feel about that particular person. We can say ‘yes come in’ or ‘yes come in’or ‘yes do come in’ (with different expressions). So, you would find that the anger, theirony is being expressed over this variation of tone with a variations of inflections.Sometimes it can be artificial, but most of the times it comes out naturally. Paralanguageis studies the voice codes and at the same time it also studies the silences in those places,where the words should have been spoken.The sixth aspect which we shall is study is known as Chronemics, it analyzes the role oftime and communication. We keep time in different ways we keep time as an individual,we keep time as a society we also have a cultural definition of time. So, these aspects oftime would be studied in Chronemics.Chromatics is a study of colors particularly the social aspects and we find that color isalso used to communicate a particular type of message. So, these aspects we would studyunder chromatics.Olfactics is based on our sense of a smell. A smell can be positive as well as a negativeone. It can be a personal choice, but more often now we find that it has become a socialand cultural choice. There are certain cultures in which it is almost compulsory to wearsome type of a smell, there are certain cultures in which smells are particularly the smellswe wear on our body are frowned upon. So, it is a personal statement, but more so, it isalso a social and professional statement. So, we would study it is significance underOlfactics.The ninth aspect of body language which we shall study is about the Artifacts. Artifactsanalyzed communicator’s sense of dressing style of putting makeup accessories on bodyetcetera which become a statement of personality and emotions. This is not exactly a partof our body, but at the same time we study it is a part of body language because like ourbody gestures and postures etcetera, it is an extension of what we want to say.If we look at this particular slide, we would find that the meaning of body languagebecomes clear to us. Every single person who is attending this meeting except thesupervisor or the boss is conveying a negative emotion, but this negativity has not beentranslated into the words. So, we can either ignore words, but then we would only have50% of the communication. On the other hand, we find that the body language suggestssomething which is not being communicated through the silence.So, nonverbal aspects of communication involve those nonverbal stimuli in a situation,where we not only look at the message which is being communicated through words, butwe are also looking at what type of nonverbal aspects have been used by the source thatis the sender as well as by the receiver or by the listener.So, we would find that it can be intentional and it can also be unintentional though mostof the time, it is unintentional. Most of the times we find that a speakers are not evenconscious of their own body language. Sometimes when we want to use it with certainintention as we might do in our use of affect displays this particular aspect of kinesics wefind that we can control it in a very limited manner, we cannot control it for more than 2minutes or maximum 3 minutes. And that is why in most of the spoken competitions thetime which we said is at least 3 minutes.At the same time our body language is also a product of our society and culture. Theinter-cultural aspects of body language are so important that if we ignore them it can leadto certain misgivings and misunderstandings. These aspects of cultural variations anddifferences would be a compulsory part of each of our discussion.We would find that in our highly competitive professions body language has becomemore and more important. As the nature and demands of different professions isgrowing, we find that our understanding of body language would help us inunderstanding the intentions and attitudes of the people and at the same time it wouldprovide us a better orientation.Whether it is related with patient counseling or physiotherapies or rehabilitation courseson nurses etcetera or whether it is the job of a caregiver of children with special needs orit is the job of a school teacher or people who are working as information analyst orcriminologists or FBI of police interrogators etcetera or practicing lawyers managers oreven, us, simple university teachers. So, you would find that an understanding of bodylanguage helps us in avoiding the misinterpretations and conflicts and antagonists indifferent situations.We would be able to pass on our ideas with better confidence and with bettereffectiveness in any situation if we understand the significance of our own bodylanguage and at the same time we would emerge as a better listener also, because wewould be looking at not only the meaning which is conveyed through words, but also themeaning which is conveyed through the nonverbal aspects of our communication.So, in different work situations we would find that an understanding of our bodylanguage is very important.Whereas it is important to understand body language, we find that contextualizing ourbody language is equally important. The individual differences do exist. Our bodylanguage is not a duplicate of anyone else’s body language normally and at the sametime there are cultural differences also as we have referred to. For example, in Japanlisteners particularly women are taught to focus on a speaker’s neck in order to avoid eyecontact. In China as well as in Middle East a one has to pay respect to the other person,the eye contact is normally avoided. On the other hand in the USA listeners areencouraged to have a direct eye contact and to gaze into the speakers eyes.At the same time we would find that there are certain cultural stereotypes which arebased on gender differences. In those cultures, when the gender equality is practicallynonexistent we find that these stereotypes have a greater hold on people and in differentsituations a particularly in intercultural and interracial situations, these signals can oftenbe misread. It is therefore, particularly important for us to focus on the culturaldifferences, the gender stereotypes and the use of body language and the necessity ofcontextualizing our body language.A language is made up of words, sentences and paragraphs. Body language is also madeup of similarly words, sentences and paragraphs. Each gesture is like a single word andas we know a word may have different meaning. Here I have quoted an example, whichhave been used by Allan Pease. He has referred to an English word dressing which has atleast ten different meanings including the act of putting on clothing, a sauce for food,stuffing for a fowl etcetera. Even a simple word like ‘wood’ may have differentmeanings and connotations. So, if we are using a single word the meaning does notbecome clear. In the same way we find a gesture is like a single word. A frown on ourface is like a single word, which can have different meanings. If you put the same wordin a sentence then it has a better clarity and a sentence in body language has anequivalence in a clusters of gestures and or postures.For example, we may say wood and it may have some different meanings. In the sameway, a single smile or a single frown may have different possible meanings. We put theword in a sentence. I need a piece of wood. So, the idea becomes clear we look at thissmile, we look at the movement of a person we listen to the paralanguage and then itbecomes a sentence to us. Then we put a sentence into a para and try to contextualize it-“I need a piece of wood it is so hot”, “let us have some fire in the garden”. So, now, ithas become a properly worded paragraph which conveys a contextual meaning, whichcannot be debated easily.The paragraph has it is equivalents in nonverbal aspects of communication with theintroduction of cultural variations, gender stereotypes as well as certain time gap. If wekeep on looking at a person and look at the cultural differences, look at the genderstereotypes and learn to avoid them and also have a significant couple of minutes towatch the body language of a person it becomes an equivalent of paragraph.So, that is why we find that the need to contextualize body language is very important. Itis tempting to decipher the body language of a person after listening to a talk after havinggone through an article or a popular book, but let us not hurry into looking at a fixedmeaning simply by looking at a particular idea or a particular gesture. For example, Imay rub my nose, it is known as a difference of gesture as we would discuss later on, butright now maybe I am suffering from a bad cold and I have an a itching. So, you wouldfind that jumping into conclusion on the basis of a single isolated gesture is neverhelpful.So, in this lecture we have discussed the basic definitions of body language, theemergence of body language as a field of a study over the passage of time, it issignificance in the scope and different aspects of body language, which we would study.In our next lecture we would begin our discussion of these different aspects gradually.Thank you.