How do I impress a Californian girl
But there are also many body signals that have developed culturally and are as misunderstood as the various word languages. Our usual attitudes can provoke outrage in other parts of the world. For example, crossing their legs is an insult to many Arabs and Asians because it reveals the soles of their feet and shoes - and these are considered unclean in Arab and Asian cultures.
Groups of people, societies and cultures develop their own system of non-verbal messages, their own code. Only if you know this code can you properly understand and use it.
So there are body signals that we all understand and use and those that are culture or region-specific. In any case, it is helpful to know the possibilities of body language well and to learn to read and use them.
Look me in the eyes, little one - the facial expressions
The look of the eyes leaves an intense impression, not only when flirting. When we are looked at, we feel noticed. Gazing can mean attention, affection, or kindness. Avoiding eye contact, on the other hand, often signals disinterest, indifference or shame. And staring at for too long is usually perceived as intrusive and aggressive.
The eye movement is an important part of the so-called facial expression, the term for the expressive movements of the face. We can best read the mental processes in a person from facial expressions. Poker players therefore try to keep their faces from revealing how good or bad their cards are by staring at them.
Scientists, on the other hand, try to read the faces of even the best liars. California researchers have intensively studied the small, unconscious muscle movements associated with facial expression changes. With this, they want to find a clear relationship between the movement of the facial muscles and the underlying feelings of people.
Give me your hand - the gestures
In many parts of the world, a fist with the thumb stretched upward is understood as a sign of approval. But in some areas it is a gesture of profanity: in Sardinia, for example, in parts of West Africa, Colombia and the Middle East.
So it is with many of the consciously formed hand signals. They are part of the communication of a certain culture and can only be properly understood there.
However, these conscious gestures only make up part of the gesture that describes the entirety of our hand movements.
The hands move more frequently and in more diverse ways as we speak. These gestures are mostly unconscious. They reinforce and accompany the verbal speech. Even people who think they are holding their hands still emphasize their words with hand movements.
We even gesticulate on the phone. Researchers have found out that the centers for speech and hand movements are located in the same area in the brain and therefore suspect the almost inevitable connection between word and hand.
With both feet firmly on the ground - posture and movement
People who are secure have a strong sense of reality, as the saying goes. And a straight posture shows an upright character. The posture should therefore provide information about the characteristics of the human being.
The scientific theory does not go that far, but it also establishes a connection between the mental and the physical situation. When we grieve, we slump, shoulders droop, and we seem powerless and closed.
An open posture in the chest and neck area, on the other hand, signals fearlessness and self-confidence. The same applies to movements. If you lean forward in conversation, you show attention. Anyone who fiddles with their clothes cramped and only sits on the edge of a chair is considered unsafe.
The way people walk also reflects their emotional state. Experiments have shown that we can recognize whether the person walking in front of us is male or female, and also whether they appear happy or sad.
Postures can also be trained and used in a targeted manner to achieve a specific effect. This is how a man stretches his chest to appear strong and confident. A woman crosses her legs because she wants to look graceful and a teenager hangs casually on the chair to express his protest.
"Do not disturb my circles!" - Proximity and touch
"Do not disturb my circles!" Archimedes is said to have called out to the approaching Romans and was then slain. The presence and closeness of another person or even physical contact have a direct and powerful effect. A slap or a kiss are physical messages that everyone understands.
We have a keen sense of the right distance from other people and instinctively we take the space in a room that is comfortable for us. When we are forced to be close, such as in an elevator, we try to ignore others and avoid eye contact.
The sense of distance is culturally shaped. In Japan, for example, a greater distance is considered pleasant than in Europe. A Japanese could therefore find a European in a conversation to be intrusive if he always wants to get a little closer than the Japanese would like. The European, on the other hand, may consider the Japanese to be aloof if they always withdraw a little.
Cultural differences can also be observed when touching. In western countries, contacts between friends and acquaintances, hugs and kisses on the cheek or mouth have largely become the norm. Nevertheless, Europe is a region where physical contact is rather rare compared to other cultures.
Clothes make the man - clothes and jewelry
During the carnival you can see whole groups of Martians in disguise, clowns, witches - or even Coke cans. By wearing the same costume, people show that they belong to a club.
It is no different in everyday life. Every community or society has a clothing code. Before an interview, we think carefully about what to wear. We know how to show sadness through our clothes or how we can impress friends with unusual accessories.
Even those who do not want to conform to current clothing standards are sending a clear message. Every day we consciously or unconsciously decide how we want to look through our external appearance: by applying make-up, putting on a skirt or trousers, by choosing the color of the tie and the jewelry we put on.
The clothing codes vary widely across cultures - especially the views on how much bare skin can be shown in public. Different parts of the body are also taboo. In many European countries, women with bare hair appear in public, which is unthinkable in Islamic countries.
On the other hand, it is still common among some African and South American peoples that neither women nor men cover their upper body in everyday life - for example with the Himba in Namibia, the Nyangatom and Hamar in Ethiopia and the Huaorani in Ecuador - which is again the case in western countries Countries would cause a scandal.
Clothing and jewelry are forms of expression of body language that follow cultural customs like no other means.
The body language professionals
Some people have made body language their profession. Pantomime is a very old performing art in which the plot and character are expressed only through facial expressions, gestures and movement. As early as 400 BC, pantomime has been proven as an art form in Greece.
Even the clown artist usually does without words. Since he wants to make people laugh, he usually uses body language in an exaggerated way, for example by making faces or stumbling. Charlie Chaplin was one of the most famous wordless actors of the past century.
Another special form of body language is dance. Movement is their form of expression. These professionals have mastered the secrets of non-verbal communication perfectly.
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