Is there something in the way that she’s playing with her hair or a quirk in her smile that will let you know how she really feels about you?
Is there a magic combination of posture, eye contact, and gestures that will get you the raise you deserve, the job you desire, or help you to close a big deal?
If you’ve looked for advice about body language for job interviews, first dates, sales situations, or for making better first impressions in general you’ve probably heard a lot of the same old stuff.
I’m sure that you already know that your posture conveys your confidence.
You’re probably even trying to make better eye contact because you’ve heard about studies showing that it can increase rapport and attraction (just don’t stare at people like a creepster, obviously).
I’m not here to criticize these now common sense tactics, but something is missing…
Sure, it’s true: your mostly unconscious physical expressions influence how other people feel towards you.
It’s the silent language, “The subtle, unspoken communication of facial expressions, gestures, body movement and the use of personal space.”
BUT trust me, you probably don’t need any more tricks on how to read body language. In fact, these tips are often useless because what they mean depends so heavily on context.
Is she playing with her hair because she’s interested in you? Or, because some strand keeps getting in her face? Maybe she often thoughtlessly plays with her hair?
Is she crossing her arms across her chest because you’ve done something to turn her off? Or, did she just feel a draft?
You can waste a lot of time misreading or overanalyzing every gesture or you can stop over thinking the minor details, stop googling for more body language clues, and instead embrace a little complexity now and realize the true nature of nonverbal communication.
Because there is a bigger picture and it’s far more powerful than just influencing others.
It’s what you really NEED to understand about your body language, but that you probably haven’t heard before.
However, what I’m going to talk about goes way beyond random tips or tactics. When this all clicks… then instead of just improving appearances, you will literally become more confident, connect better with others, and even be happier (all research backed).
The First Mind-Altering Truth About Body Language: The Relationship Between Emotions and Expressions
The first part of the simple, but literally mind-altering truth about body language: Your physical expressions influence your emotions.
Everybody knows that emotions can spontaneously trigger or alter facial expressions and postural changes.
After all that’s what makes reading body language possible in the first place.
But did you know that to some extent the reverse is also true?
Your physical expressions can alter or trigger an emotional state.
Your posture and facial expressions influence your psychology by giving feedback to your brain.
In that way physical expressions shape your emotional state.
So like I said, literally mind-altering….
So… our emotions influence our expressions, but our expressions also influence our emotions.
Before we get into any of the implications of this… You have to wonder why?
Why are our emotions wired together with our expressions?
The answer lies in the way that our brains evolved to connect socially; having this intercausal connection between emotions and expressions allows a very sophisticated preverbal form of communication for a social animal (such as yourself… you animal).
And, ultimately, there are just two big things to understand:
1. Emotions influence expression, but expressions also influence emotions (which we just discussed)
2. We have a tendency of automatically mimicking the expressions of others (this unconscious social mimicry has also been called mirroring, synchronizing, or postural echo).
This is called emotional contagion and it plays an important role in nonverbal communication.
Put another way: Emotions are mildly contagious, and the way they spread is through our physical expressions.
In subtle ways, our own facial and postural expressions and even many bodily functions like our breathing and heart rate can synchronize when connecting with someone else.
Unconsciously we mimic (or mirror) the physical expressions of those we connect with. And because this change in expression is experienced emotionally by the brain (because of the influence of expression over emotion), our emotional states will begin to converge.
As you can imagine emotional contagion also plays an important role in empathy as well.
Of course, there is more to both nonverbal communication and empathy than just emotional contagion, but as you can see it usually plays an important role in both.
That’s an overview of the basics, in the rest of the article I’m going to connect the dots between many points of evidence and discuss various theories about the surprising connection between our emotions and physical expressions.
The implications of this in everything from improving your nonverbal communication to improving your own psychology is profound.
Keep reading and you’ll discover:
–Practical science-backed ways of actually becoming happier and more confident instead of just trying to appear that way. A brief history of the research behind how your emotions affect your body, but also how the body affects your emotions. Including fun stuff like emotional suppression, hormones, and evolutionary theory.
–Greater insight into your own psychology along with a scientific perspective on one of the major (but little spoken about) benefits of body-based mindfulness or meditation practices. (Yes, there actually is a point to concentrating on your breathing or focusing attention on your toes… And yea I was surprised too…)
–How to better connect with others, whether it’s social, sales, seduction, or salary discussion. The essential evolutionary theories underlying nonverbal communication and the best strategies to implement them (well my take on them anyway).
Including fun facts like: the relationship between psychological stress, and muscular tension. Why studies show that Botox (which paralyzes facial muscles) can weaken your ability to feel certain emotions. And this further impairs your ability to pick up on the emotions of others.
And easily a hundred other cool facts.
Click here to read more.