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Series: Culture Clash? Body language

Was wir mit unserer Körpersprache ausdrücken kann sich stark von dem unterscheiden, was wir gerade verbal mitteilen. Geben wir mit unserer Körpersprache viel mehr von uns preis als uns bewusst und lieb ist?

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Evolving new languages

Close tabs are kept on changes in language, but few studies look at how our body language changes from generation to generation. People are far more bodyconscious these days compared to when our parents were young: nowadays, bodies are worked out, operated on, sculpted etc. We can analyse how we walk with a 'Rolfing' © session and learn what that reveals about us, as well as how to change it; or we might attend Pilates classes to work out those muscles we didn't know we had. But do we pay enough attention to other people's body language? If we did, we might find out some extremely useful things.

Bodies speak louder than words

Body language refers not only to gestures and signals we make, but also to the interpretation of:

  • the positioning of our bodies in relation to others, known as 'proxemics' (studies the space between people when they are talking)
  • our facial expressions
  • our eye movement, focus and gestures: together with interpreting gestures, this is known as 'kinesics' (describes people's eye movement and gestures)
  • how we touch ourselves and other people
  • how we connect with objects, for instance pens, cigarettes, glasses and clothing
  • our breathing, and other physical factors, such as our heartbeat and perspiration

Body language does not commonly include our voices, since vocal sounds have a different range of interpretations depending on pitch, tone, volume and so on. To speak, we have to make a conscious effort, whereas our bodies often express unconscious feelings. But of course, it is useful to think of body language as the sum total of a combination of signals including voice, gestures, eye contact and the closeness of others when talking to us. So where does this leave us in our interaction with others, particularly in a foreign environment?

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