March 6, 2011

Body Language

Because of its spontaneity, body language is hard to fake. If the clues don’t match, we are suspicious. Also, because it is spontaneous, it is more likely to reflect underlying feelings. The reaction is more likely to be off the cuff and true to his thoughts or emotions.

Verbal communication is open to manipulation. Non-verbal communication is not.

“Body language is your primary mod of communication, primary in the evolutionary history of the human species, and primary in your life.” The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Body Language. Body language is more basic than the spoken work.

Animals are great at reading body language. I’m not exactly a calm person and when I pick up one of our rabbits, I need to chill before I do it. Our female responds well to my husband because he’s naturally a steadier person.

A few weeks after my father died, I was still kind of bumping into walls. I thought I was fine, but my dog was glued to my side. He knew I wasn’t right when I refused to admit it.

The human body is able to function well on autopilot. Think back to this morning. Do you really remember brushing your teeth? You know you did, but do you REALLY know you did?

Body language is part of that autopilot, other wise it would be stilted.

Non-verbal communication encompasses all parts of your body.

Your eyes are the primary way you receive body language cues and usually the primary way you send it. You invite someone to communicate by making eye contact. I know this because EVERYONE talks to me at the grocery store. I make eye contact without really meaning to.

If they eye contact is longer than a second, the two people begin to make a connection. Immediacy behaviors, like prolonged eye contact, singal availability. Eye contact is powerful that way.

Besides the obvious body language there are also more subtle versions. Your pupils dilate because of lack of light, but also for things you find attractive.

The reverse is also true. Our pupils constrict when we see something we don’t like. We react to that on an unconscious level.

Eye contact controls interaction. If you don’t make eye contact, you don’t send out an invite for someone to interact with you. One symptom of Asperger’s is not making eye contact. It isn’t because they don’t want to interact, they just don’t think about it. They don’t need you to make eye contact for them to interact with you.

Excerpt from: Layering: Not Just for Cakes being offer at in May.

Chris Redding’s latest is Incendiary, out in print in March, already available in all electronic formats. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works part time for her local hospital.

You can find her on the web:


marybelle said...

I agree - body language is very revealing. The mouth says one things but the eyes & body say another.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Chris. Thanks for being my host today. Great post and good reminder to us writers that we can reveal more about a character with their body language.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Oh yeah, how many times have eyebrows raised even when we tried to maintain a blank face, especially if it's something we don't like. Great blog!

Caroline Clemmons said...

I agree that body language is very important for writers. I had a book on it and loaned it to someone who kept it. I'm glad to know there's an Idiot's Guide on the subject.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Caroline, that reminds me that I attended a workshop at the local college on body language. She had a book out about it, too, but I don't recall if I bought it or not. I don't remember seeing it on my shelf, but I should have purchased it...hmmmm, will need to look for it now! Of course, I don't recall the title!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I so agree with you about eye contact. For some reason people tell me I am a people person because I know no strangers. I smile first and then nod or say hello, always looking them in the eye. It works for me and I love to meet people and make friends. I hadn't thought about this for my characters, but will definitely from now on. Thanks!

Loreen Augeri said...

Great blog. I always like to learn more about body language. It adds a lot to a story.

Loreen Augeri