Body Language

by Mary-Louise Angoujard

Introduction

Body language has come to the fore in the last 40 years or so as a major force in the process of communication. Extensive research was carried out in the latter decades of the 20th century by Desmond Morris, Albert Mehrabian and Paul Ekman, among others. More recently, research by such people as Philippe Turchet, founder of Synergology, has continued to reveal new findings, while popular writers, notably Allan Pease and Judi James, have brought a level of practicality, simplicity and fun to the subject. However, the complexities of certain research findings and implications on the subject can often be missed or misunderstood when taken out of context by readers.

This topic covers the things you need to keep in mind in order to come across with more confidence, engagement and positive impact in terms of your body language. It helps you to understand how your body communicates your thoughts and attitudes, so that you know why it works the way it works, and how it creates perceptions in others. By extension, you will also gain insights into the meaning of nonverbal signals sent by others in communication.

This is a subject about which there are many myths, perhaps because we are only just beginning to understand how powerful body language is and the strength of the mind-body connection, so that one cannot be separated from the other.

This topic shows how to apply the principles of body language to typical situations and highlights common pitfalls. Below are some of the situations where body language counts in business:

  • Presentations
  • Client meetings
  • Interviews
  • Appraisal or disciplinary meetings
  • Team meetings
  • When leading people.

You will gain an understanding of what could be called the traditional approach to understanding body language and that of synergology. The latter is a new discipline which offers a more scientific method of interpreting nonverbal communication. The traditional approach is usually based on trying to control as much as possible of your body language, regardless of your mental attitude. In contrast, synergology provides a clear, scientific method to ensure understanding of yourself and others in communication, while discouraging the idea of artificially controlling your own body language in order to achieve a certain result.

The flaw in the traditional approach is that your body language will always betray your mental attitude. So, if you wish to improve your communication by improving your body language, you must focus on developing good habits relating to mental attitude in communication, while combining this with a clear understanding of how resulting nonverbal communication is perceived.

It is for you to decide how to use the information available, always presuming positive intentions for yourself and for others.