In 1971, US Educational Psychologist Albert Mehrabian published his famous 7%-38%-55% Rule on non-verbal communication. He found that only 7 percent of communication comes from spoken words, 38 percent is from the tone of the voice, and 55 percent comes from body language. Since then, a great deal has been written on the subject of body language.

As always, we've scoured the net for the best material to help you understand how to interpret this language of the body more easily, and to become more aware of the way you communicate with your own body.

Understanding body language can be an effective tool both for the speaker and the listener. By being able to analyze the body language of yourself and others, you can create certain desirable situations such as a successful job interview, a great date, meeting and becoming accepted by new people or social groups, closing a business deal, effectively speak in public, become better at getting the opposite sex interested in you, etc.

Finally, for those interested in foreign languages, body language can actually help immensely when learning a new language to tell whether you have been understood, to get a gist of the feeling behind what is being said when you don't understand everything and more. Read on to learn more about this intriguing, useful and oft-overlooked, aspect of language.

What is body language?

Body language is a term for communication using body movements or gestures instead of, or in addition to, sounds, verbal language or other communication. It forms part of the category of paralanguage, which describes all forms of human communication that are not verbal language. This includes the most subtle of movements that many people are not aware of, including winking and slight movement of the eyebrows. In addition body language can also incorporate the use of facial expressions.

Although they are generally not aware of it, many people send and receive non-verbal signals all the time. The technique of 'reading' people is used frequently. For example, the idea of mirroring body language to put people at ease is commonly used in interviews. It sets the person being interviewed at ease. Mirroring the body language of someone else indicates that they are understood.

Online Videos about Body Language

This video gives a short and to-the-point introduction to the basics of body language.

Here is a short introduction to the power dynamics of body language with advice for girls on how to catch a guy's attention.

The video below offers a light-hearted yet informative burst of body language 'grammar'. The acting is top drawer!

The following video is the beginning of a series of videos by Dr. Michelle Roth Cohen called "Tips for Reading Body Language". View the entire series here.

Tips for Reading Body Language powered by

And finally, a video on the essential do's and dont's of body language in the context of public speaking:

Top Websites for Body Language
As well as taking you through the different emotions - or 'message clusters' - displayed by body language, outlines the contributions made by all the body parts (unfortunately there are no pictures) and even enters into the ethical questions raised by the use of body language to 'persuade' others. No great in terms of presentation but for informative value a very useful site.
A very comprehensive site with everything from how to use body language effectively at job interviews advice when meeting people for the first time and parental advice for interpreting teenagers body language and how to pay attention to one's own non-verbal messages when communicating with children. Regularly updated material. Invaluable online resource.
This site gives the lowdown not just on conventional notions of 'body language' but also pays keen attention to how we communicate with our eyes, smiles and even pheromones. It of course includes a comprehensive guide to the signals to look out for when courting. The presentation of the material is not that hot but the clunky display aside this is one of the most informative sites out there.

Wikipedia on Body Language
This one speaks for itself: it's the free encyclopedia's entry on body language, a collectively-written article.

Major Types of Body Language

The following info is taken directly from, and links directly back to,

Body language comes in clusters of signals and postures, depending on the internal emotions and mental states. Recognizing a whole cluster is thus far more reliable than trying to interpret individual elements.

Aggressive body language: Showing physical threat.
Attentive body language: Showing real interest.
Bored body language: Just not being interested.
Closed body language: Many reasons are closed.
Deceptive body language: Seeking to cover up lying or other deception.
Defensive body language: Protecting self from attack.
Dominant body language: Dominating others.
Emotional body language: Identifying feelings.
Evaluating body language: Judging and deciding about something.
Greeting body language: Meeting rituals.
Open body language: Many reasons for being open.
Power body language: Demonstrating one's power.
Ready body language: Wanting to act and waiting for the trigger.
Relaxed body language: Comfortable and unstressed.
Romantic body language: Showing attraction to others.
Submissive body language: Showing you are prepared to give in.

Other related links:

Non-Verbal Behavior
Understanding Body Language
Proxemic Communication
Kinesic Communication

Quick Product Reviews: DVDs and Books about Body Language

"Secrets of Body Language" on DVD

This 2008 documentary focuses on how both politicians and celebrities use the subtle movements of body language to persuade masses, establish power, and advance careers. For those of you who are visual learners and find it more effective to watch a DVD than read a book, this is the perfect starting point.

"The Definitive Book of Body Language" - Barbara Pease

As the name states, this book truly is the definitive guide. Full of images and illustrations, it deals with the practical implications of body language in a funny and informative way. Although body language is largely viewed from the point of view of business executives, there is, however, a very amusing and eye-opening section on courtship which is recommended reading for anyone in search of a partner.

"The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work" - Carol Kinsey Goman

This book is the one for all managers or aspiring business professionals to improve their knowledge of nonverbal cues. Kinsey Gorman helps the reader to understand how there is a silent world of communication to discover with eyes, hands, posture, and even feet playing important roles. She gives practical advice and steps to follow to improve interpersonal skills through body language, making this book a must-have for business professionals seeking to maximise the impact of their non-verbal communication. See a video with this author here.

"Body Language Secrets: A Guide During Courtship & Dating" – R. Don Steele

Although this book sometimes takes the tone of aiding men to 'conquer' women rather than assisting women in finding a partner, the book is surely all the more interesting for this approach. While it gives innumerable hints and tips to men entering the dating arena, it also offers women an insight into the machinations of a male suitor and what to look out for in his body language.

Body Language FAQs

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