Body language

It conveys messages succinctly, which even rhetoric sometimes fail.

Contrary to popular belief, communication for most part, I believe, is non-verbal. Twitching of the moustache, popping of eye balls, tautness of the lips, lifting of an eyebrow, frowning of facial contours, twinkling of the eyes and lips creased in a smile - all speak louder than words. They convey succinctly messages which even rhetoric could sometimes fail.

When a teacher gives that solemn stare to an unruly section of the students, no words are necessary to quieten the class. The belligerent wife banging her pots and pans in the kitchen is enough to get her better half to relent to her whims and fancies.

The stubborn folding of the arms of a toddler is indicative enough of his refusal to wolf down the bowl of porridge. The slumping of the shoulders of the losing team gives away their disappointment at falling short of victory.

A droop in the face, a lift of the chin, the straightening of the chest and the overall body posture collectively make an audible, yet silent speech.

Understanding the body language of those with whom we interact is an important precursor in getting our needs met. Years back, I remember how my scheming colleagues used the palpable upbeat disposition that our boss exhibited on one rare occasion, to get sizeable pay-hikes for the department.

Interpreting body language is also an effective tool in traversing successfully the tortuous situations that exit in a joint family. Body language comes as an effective bridge between the conservative mother-in-law and the iconoclastic daughter-in-law.

A Close friend of mine once shared with me that she could gauge her mother-in-law’s moods simply by the manner in which she watered the little green patch in the balcony of their home.

“Water all over the balcony other than inside the pot is writing on the wall of her hot temper. Until the plants actually receive water, my husband and I make sure we are obsequious enough to win back her good moods!” she said with a chuckle.

The only trouble with body language, like in any other language is when it is not comprehended. At a felicitation gathering I attended recently, the chief guest was a rather chatty sort.

In her address, raving and then the ranting on a myriad of subjects did not seem to end. Some in the audience tried a few body language gimmicks. One was heard yawning loudly. Another came up with a noisy snore.

Yet, the monologue continued and there seemed to be no respite to the bore discourse. The end only came when the audience in sheer exasperation prematurely gave her a loud applause drowning her voice!

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