Body language

  1. Body language. 

Do you know your own body language? Do you know what it conveys? And how do you know?

How do you know other people’s body language?

Do you care about it at all? 

I’m not even sure I “believe” in body language? I mean I see it but I don’t see any additional meaning. Let’s say someone is sitting and reading-their body language says “I’m sitting and reading”. I don’t see anything else. Is really anything else there? 

Of course I can read some body language:

someone is shouting - angry (or maybe defensive because of stress?)

someone is crying - hurt (physically or mentally) or scared (children often cry when they are scared)

I can sometimes notice eye rolling or something like that but I’m not sure how really important body language is in social interactions. How much attention people are paying to body language. And is it some kind of unconscious message that it’s send constantly, even if nobody is around or is it only in the presence of others? 

And I’m using some body language - I nod or wave my hand but it’s something learned (you nod if you agree, shake if you don’t) Is all body language learned? And do people know what it means instinctively or is it learning by trial and error? 

Let’s say, I enter the staff cafeteria and I see some people standing and chatting, some people sitting and chatting, some people reading, some people eating. What does it say to me? That some people are chatting and standing, some sitting, some reading. Nothing more. If I see the same people chatting together every day - it means they like each other, if I see someone reading every day - it means that they like to read. What else?

I’ve read that standing with your arms crossed it’s a defensive pose but I’ve seen people chatting with their arms crossed. They even laughed. But maybe it was the fake laugh ♀️

I just find it hard to believe that most of the conversation is non verbal. 

But then I’ve read that autistic children can interpret and read emotions from body language. So maybe inability to read nonverbal clues has nothing to do with autism ♀️

Everything is so confusing (oh why oh why oh why)

  • Body language is an interesting subject, particularly with regard to autism, as it is a major component of social interaction or intersubjectivity.

    As social cognition is regarded as impaired in autistic individuals, body language - or lack of it - is part of the diagnostic assessment. On diagnosis I was told that my lack of gestures, eye contact and facial expressions played a role in the decision to diagnose me as autistic.

    Social interaction is classified as multi-modal: eye contact, frequency of glances, blink rate, gestures, facial expressions, postures, eye saccades. All play a part in communication.

    In anthropology it is a vast subject, particularly gestures. For instance, I was recently reading about the Arapaho - a native N. America tribe. Gestures play a major role in their communication. There is a sign language called Plains Indian Sign Language which was used as a lingua franca amongst Great Plains tribes.

    At a CBT session whilst “enjoying” a stay in a mental health hospital, I was told that communication is 80% non verbal. Tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, posture and gestures make up the majority of social interaction. Whilst this is something of a  sweeping generalisation, it does have more than a grain of truth to it.

  • I agree it's really confusing .  I bet that 90% of the time I read it wrong and never get to find out because the interaction was over quickly or the person whose body language I misread didn't get to the point where they later had to explain it, so i just continued in ignorance. 

    A  couple of observations about myself:

    • I have noticed that when people laugh or whisper I fear it's about me because I can't pick up the cues that would tell me it's not (according to many discussions with my husband about the topic)
    • I once saw a video of myself (something i avoid like the plague, you must understand) and I was horrified to see  my own movements and body language. 
    • I do tend to "mirror" someone else's gestures, which is neurotypical, but I only do it when i'm feeling safe

    I think the hardest part is any kind of sub text -  figuring out another person's INTENTIONS, whether from body language, written or verbal.  Like when a person is suggesting something and I don't know what to answer or if there is a hidden agenda.

    Like you say - why oh why.