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Body Language – Definition, Importance, Types and Examples of Positive and Negative Body Language

Published by: Hitesh Bhasin

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Body language is the study of nonverbal cues that convey a person’s feelings and thoughts. The way a person carries himself, mannerisms, eye contacts, etc., are all nonverbal cues. The implicit part of communicating is that we employ our gestures to hint at our responses through our body language.

There are multiple types of body language that do the job of communication. Body language, unlike speeches, is almost always unintentional and makes up an essential part of human interaction and effective communication.

What is Body Language?

Definition: Body language is defined as the unspoken elements of communication or the nonverbal signals that we consciously or subconsciously use for revealing our true feelings and emotions. The visual signs we use to express is what our body language is.

According to experts, body language is thought of as being a significant part of constant interactions. The people who we interact with, their body language says a lot. According to some estimates, body language reveals more than half of what we convey through speech; thus, learning to read nonverbal signs is a crucial attribute. Body language tells us the hidden meanings and gives us an insight into what someone is thinking, from eye behavior to hand gestures and even how someone stands.

The Science of Body Language

As per the stats, just 7% of a message is conveyed verbally while 93% of messages are shared via nonverbal signals.

According to Mehrabian’s Communication Model, body language is more crucial than the choice of words and tone of voice for effective communication involving feelings and attitudes.

From daily interactions to professional meetings to GD to public speaking, body language is significant.

Importance of Body Language

Importance of Body Language

With the use of verbal communication, people also speak via their body language to communicate.

Your body language says about your confidence level and dedication in the professional world in more ways than you may imagine. The importance of body language on your own identity is what makes it so important.

Body language is essential in more than just professional communication. You can increase and better your self-confidence and identity by improving any uninviting nonverbal signs.

Your mental peace will improve when you witness people reacting positively to you because they find you approachable, easy-going, and friendly.

It plays five different roles:

1. Repetition

Your body language is effective in repeating and strengthening your verbal messages.

2. Contradiction

The body language that your personality demonstrates might contradict the message you want to convey that might suggest to your listener that you are not telling the truth.

3. Substitution

You can use your body language for substituting your verbal message like facial expressions can convey some cryptic messages without even using words.

4. Complementing

Nonverbal signals complement your verbal message. Using gestures and postures with your verbal message might enhance the effectiveness of your message.

5. Accenting

You can use it for underlining your verbal message like politicians in parliament pound table emphasizing the importance of a message.

Positive and Negative Body Language

Positive body language is a nonverbal cue that places us in a comfortable, likable, and dignified posture. Open body language is seen as friendly, allowing us to be receptive and approachable to others, making them feel more comfortable during conversations. You can negotiate disagreements and control the connections you make when paying great attention to your body language.

Nonverbal clues such as unpleasant or confined body language might impact peoples’ views of your trustworthiness and appeal. You behave or react in ways that may insult or even harm others through mannerisms, poses, and facial gestures. You may not even be conscious of how your closed body language is affecting your being approachable.

Under the office, keeping your body language in check is critical since it impacts and influences the connections you form in a social setting. You don’t want others to get the wrong impression of you, hence why you should learn how to control your nonverbal emotions.

Positive Body Language Examples

Positive body language is crucial in letting the whole ambiance be warm and welcoming that ultimately makes others also feel comfortable. Different positive gestures make the associated individuals open, interested, and approachable. Some of the examples of positive language can be-

  • Direct eye contact
  • Firm handshake
  • Palms open and facing upwards.
  • Head tilted to one side
  • Leaning in
  • Stroking the chin
  • Stand straight with shoulders back
  • Aligning body with the person, you are talking
  • Nodding the head
  • Monitor your voice
  • Keeping legs apart a bit instead of crossing them to show you are relaxed
  • Mirror the body language of the person you are interacting
  • Lean a bit to show focus
  • Keep your arms relaxed
  • Use hands to gesture while speaking
  • During meetings take notes
  • Use laugher to lighten the mood
  • Know different cultural greetings

Negative Body Language Examples:

A negative body language shows that a person is going through a few negative thoughts or feelings. Different negative body language can be hostile, unapproachable, uninterested, etc. Notable examples of negative body language can be-

  • Sit on the edge of one’s seat
  • Touching the nose
  • Looking around the room
  • Staring at your phone
  • Nail-biting
  • Poor posture
  • Tapping one’s fingers
  • Not listening
  • Placing fingertips together
  • Furrowed brows
  • Excessive use of the word ‘But’
  • Locked ankles
  • Arms crossed over the chest
  • Fidgeting with hand or arm accessories
  • Pulling the ear
  • Hand placed on the cheek
  • Head in hands
  • Closed off body language
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Talking too fast
  • Overusing hands
  • Lacking response
  • Invading personal space of others
  • A too weak or Too firm handshake
  • Slumping

Types of Body Languages

Types of Body Languages

1. Facial Expressions

Facial gestures account are an essential part of nonverbal communication. The facial expression is incredibly expressive and says more about our emotions without communicating anything.  Our expressions are nonverbal cues that are ubiquitous. Imagine how much communication a smile or a frown may transmit.

Before we understand what a person is saying, the look on a person’s face is the first thing we notice. While nonverbal communication and gestures might be used differently across countries, the facial emotions for joy, sorrow, rage, and terror are universal.

2. Gestures

Our everyday routines are tied together through gestures. Without using one’s speech skills and actions, and gestures are used for transmitting the message. Waving, nodding, and using hands to signify numerical quantities are the common gestures used. Other gestures are purely coincidental.

However, the interpretation of some gestures varies in different cultures. As a result, it’s critical to be cautious about what our gestures convey to avoid disputes.

3. Paralinguistic

Vocal communication that is distinct from communicating through speech is paralinguistic. This covers things like voice tone, volume, intonation, and speed. Notice how crucial voice tone is in understanding a statement’s meaning.

When uttered in an assertive tone of voice, people may understand appreciation and excitement. The very same phrases spoken in a cautious voice tone could suggest seriousness and loss of interest. Consider how your tone of voice can convey emotions like joy, rage, compassion, or nervousness.

4. Posture

How you act and hold yourself sends out a piece of nonverbal information to the entire world. Your posture, attitude, approach, and tiny motions are all examples of nonverbal communication.

Evaluate how the way people sit, move, rise, or carry their heads affects your impressions of them. While nonverbal acts can convey sentiments and views, research reveals that body language is not very definite.

5. Eye Contact

Nonverbal communication relies heavily on the eyes, and nonverbal actions such as looking, squinting, and blinking daily. When people come across people or things they enjoy, they start blinking more, and their eyes widen. Glancing at someone else gives that person a variety of feelings, including excitement, curiosity, and affection.

Maintaining eye contact is also known to e crucial for keeping the flow of a conversation and measuring the other person’s attention and responsiveness.

6. Proxemics

People try to hint at their desire for “personal boundaries,” which is a kind of nonverbal communication. Social conventions, cultural standards, personal attributes, and level of familiarity determine the amount of personal space and distance we are comfortable in and feel like belonging to.

Physical space can be used to transmit a variety of nonverbal messages, including conveying emotions of closeness and respect, hostility, and authority.

7. Haptics

Another crucial nonverbal habit is touch communication. The sense of touch that we pick up during childhood development has been the subject of intriguing research.

We communicate a lot with our hands. Consider how a weak greeting, a loving bear embrace, a patronizing thump on the back, or a forced pull of the arm send completely different meanings.

How to Improve Nonverbal Communication?

Stress Management

1. Stress Management

Your communication skill can depend upon stress. When you’re stressed, you’re more prone to misinterpret what others are saying, and in some way convey a feeling of confusion or offending nonverbal messages, and fall into dangerous knee-jerk behavioral patterns. Emotions may spread like a virus. If you’re annoyed, your actions and words might be more offensive to others, thus, worsening a poor scenario.

Before you leap back into the conversation, take the time to relax. You’ll feel that you can better cope with the situation positively when you’ve achieved your inner balance.

2. Emotional Awareness

You must be aware of your emotions and how they affect you to put across appropriate and understandable nonverbal clues. You must try to regard other people’s emotions and understand their feelings through the underlying signals they provide.

Emotional maturity comes into effect at this stage. You’ll gain more power over how you think and behave if you expand your emotional sensitivity and engage with even the negative feelings.

3. Virtual Body Language

Much of the body language advice given above can be implemented into your video calls. Make sure your camera is set up correctly. This indicates that you’re close enough to exhibit interest without invading other people’s virtual space. Clean up your desk or go somewhere peaceful for your video call. You’ll be able to reduce interruptions this way.

Maintain eye contact with the other person. To imply that you are paying attention to whoever is speaking on the screen, stare into the camera. If you’re on a group call, look around the other members to avoid staring. Make your facial gestures subtle and look interested at all times. Keep a slight smile on your face the entire time, nod to show understanding and interest, and prevent frowning.

How to Read Body Language?

Reading body language interpret body language may indicate something else

Your thoughts will be met with resistance if someone’s arms and legs are crossed. Crossed arms and legs indicate that the other person is not interested in your subject of discussion. Their body language reveals the narrative and tells you whether or not they’re smiling and having a good time.

Crossed legs or arms are unpleasant and show that a person is cognitively, psychologically, and bodily cut off from what is around them. It’s not meant to be that way, which is why it’s so eye-opening.

The story is told through posture. The brain is programmed to understand nonverbal cues and link them with the amount of space that others need. A powerful position is standing upright with a straight back and widened shoulders, as it appears to enhance the amount of space you occupy.

Slouching, on the other side, is the effect of compressing your posture, giving the impression of taking up less space and projecting less strength. Despite whether you are a leader or not, holding and carrying yourself out in a confident posture conveys admiration and encourages participation.

Excessive nodding might suggest uncertainty and non- acceptance. When you tell someone anything, and they nod a lot, it suggests they’re worried about what you think of them or that you have doubts about their abilities to follow your directions.

People are known to purposefully maintain eye contact in an attempt to avoid appearing to be dishonest. The problem that they are faced with is them trying to compensate for their dishonesty by maintaining constant eye contact, which at times is awkward. Someone is trying to deceive you if you’re talking with someone whose look makes you convulse if they’re motionless and unflinching.


Body language or nonverbal communication is crucial for making meaningful conversations and providing correct information to the people you are talking to, as well as trying to interpret the actions of people around us.

It’s important to remember that nonverbal actions may be involuntary and take place in teams while thinking about them. What someone is trying to imply or their gestures, hand movements, and change of tone give a lot of information about a lot about what they are trying to say.

How important do you consider body language for effective communication?

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Article by:

Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Digiaide and his vision is to make business knowledge accessible to everyone.