According to anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell, people can show around 250,000 expressions with their faces alone and recognize the same in other people. Nowadays, especially in politics, it is essential for public television appearances that the presentation and appearance are identical to the spoken statement in terms of body language. That’s why many politicians learn more about body language in personal coaching so that they know how to support their statements with non-verbal signals and not reveal the opposite in a contradicting statement.
Research has shown that especially in a business setting, when a negotiation is conducted over the phone, the negotiating person who has the better argument wins the negotiation. In a personal encounter, however, this is not the case, because the person with the more authentic and sympathetic body language is the clear winner. 60-80 percent of a new person’s first impression is being made in the first few minutes, of which body language is the largest determining factor. This happens equally when we meet new people in a private environment. When we meet someone for the first time, we know very quickly whether we like a person, how dominant, attractive, friendly and even sexually compatible that person is. Most researchers have therefore come to the conclusion that the spoken word is only used to convey information i.e. facts and that body language expresses or reflects all interpersonal attitudes, thoughts and opinions.
After investigating a thesis, researchers have suggested that, regardless of a person’s culture, movements and gestures can be predicted if the voice alone is heard. Body language is international and universal, but certain movements and gestures are more common in certain cultures, whereas in other regions a different, e.g. more dynamic or static body language is the norm. As an example, in the United States, at least in a business environment, people stand a little further apart, while in southern countries there is less distance between business partners. A handshake, for example, is also cultural; in western cultures it has been part of good manners, at least up until now, whereas in Asian or Arab cultures, however, this is not the standard. Of course, the occasion is also examined – if a person moves less during a public speech and wants to exude more authority through their upright posture, the same person in private surroundings may be more relaxed and sometimes gesticulate with their hands, visually underlining the expression that matches the spoken word.
At the next meeting, in business and private, try to detect the body language of others and try to watch your own body language. To do this, you can, for example, look at the position of the feet and note this down for you. There will soon be more to read on our blog to decipher such clues!