How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Body Language Caveat
A lot has been written about body language and how it can be used to persuade and influence other people. Although there is truth in this, there is also a warning that needs to be observed if you are to be truly effective in your communications.
How many muscles are there in the human body? Before you dive into trying to control what your body is doing and communicating, consider this: there are more than 600 muscles in the human body.
The implication for managing your own body language is that you will consciously have to manage all of these muscles. You will also have to do this against the wishes of your subconscious, which will be trying to send its own messages. Oh yes, and you will have to do it whilst thinking about what you are saying, the words you are using the intonation of your voice, and so on.
The most important: the face
Worse again, consider the face, where you have about 90 muscles, 30 of which are there purely to express emotion. And where is the person you are talking with looking? Mostly at your face. And guess what: they are also likely to be very good at reading, at least to some extent, what you are feeling.
The bottom line of all this is that you cannot control all of your muscles, and especially the muscles in your face, which you cannot hide. You cannot avoid sending a constant stream of signals about what you are feeling and thinking.
If you try too hard to control your body, the result is that all you send is mixed messages. One part of your body says one thing whilst another says something else, whilst you voice may also be leaking different messages. The result is will that be that people will trust you less, not more.
So what is all this about body language? Why both at all with it? If all we can do is make it worse, why all the talk?
Manage it carefully
The answer is that although you can very easily send mixed messages, you can change your body language effectively - but only if you are very careful and don't try to over-do it.
You can use the body to nudge and exaggerate what you are already thinking, but you can't send completely contrary message. Just try to use friendly body language towards someone you really detest and you'll quickly find these limits.
Read your own thoughts
What understanding body language is very good for, is to read your own thoughts, to see what your subconscious is saying. If you find yourself keep on rubbing your face or crossing your arms in a conversation, think: are you comfortable? Is there something about the other person that is bothering you?
Do in internally
The very best way of controlling your own body language is by changing your own mind to reflect what your body should be saying. If you are in agreement with yourself, your body will naturally communicate agreeable messages. You can read the content of this website and apply it to yourself. Think about your beliefs, values and needs. What is driving you? What inner thoughts would lead you to become a better person?