Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Body language

This follows on from my post about Facial expressions.

Did you know that words are only 7% of your communication? Tone of voice is 38% and the other 55% of our communication is body language.
Most peoples body language is a bit different. Some body language might represent learned behaviours, while some of it might also be cultural (a thumbs up means different things in various parts of the world).

Body language is important, and if your words say one thing but your body says another, the person you are speaking to is more likely to believe the message your body is communicating. Very important if going on a first date! Things to look for;

Positioning of body relative to other people and things
Shape of whole body
Movement of limbs, head and fingers
Micro-movement of muscles
Skin colour and texture
Voice pitch
Texture of voice tone
Speed of speaking
Sweating
Bodily smells (eg. pheromones)

Personality and status are also given away by;
Dress, including style, tidiness, coordination.
Personal adornments, from jewellery to watches and badges.
Office and desk space at work, including size and type of computer, chair, etc.
Items owned, from cameras to cars to houses.

Here are some things for you to think about.
Its also used a lot when playing games like Poker.

Most of us read all these cues without even realising. Many autistic people find this difficult. So they appear to respond inappropriately to others' emotions. This does not mean they don’t have feelings, of course they do!


We all get it wrong sometimes!

35 comments:

Elizabethd said...

Very true. I had a head master who always smiled (bit like Blair actually), but the smile never went further than the lips.

motherx said...

I agree with this so much. Z can recognise basic facial emotions but anything else he has a problem with. Especially if someone is sick or hurt as he finds their facial expres really funny. he will stand laughing his head off. (which obviously doesnt go down well with a lot of people.) If a baby cries or a toddler throws a tantrum, he either laughs at the top of his voice or tries to attack them. I have to use very precise over the top facial and voice expres with them both, so they are in no doubt of what I am saying.

R.E.H. said...

Ah, body language. It really is important, but one of those things few of us think too much of.

Having taken a few acting classes in my days, I've studied the art of body language a lot - yet, I am still to develop an awareness of it in myself when speaking to others.

Elissa - Managing Autism said...

"55% of our communication is body language...Most of us read all these cues without even realising. Many autistic people find this difficult."

... with this the case, we should give autistic people more credit for the cues they do read!!!

Great post Casdok, thanks!

Casdok said...

Elissa, thank you, you make an excelent point there!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Amy often mimicks my expression when I am giving her wrong as though she thinks it's a game.

Crystal xx

BenefitScroungingScum said...

This fascinates me too. My body language has altered significantly as I've had increasing problems with my joints. I often think it must affect how others read it...especially like you say in dating type situations! BG

Bettina said...

great post. I hope that the counsellor my Lou is going to go to can help her recognise some of this stuff more easily.

Faith said...

Interesting post Casdok.

buffalodickdy said...

I've been in sales forever- and I read and use body language daily! Only been in one poker tournament with 28 others- and won! Reading people requires you to pay attention to the signals they send- Words can be powerful- or worthless! How people say, or mean the words is the key..

polyrhythmia said...

There is just no way an autistic person can consciously keep track of all the different aspects of communication, nor should autistic people be expected to communicate like neurotypicals do. I try to explain to people how much of their communication is nonverbal and they just don't seem to get it. Apparently, this nonverbal communication is done without much thought at all, and it works rather well, for most people manage to make relationships with each other. And I should mention that being high functioning does not necessarily mean being good at nonverbal communication.

laughingwolf said...

yeah, no one always gets the 'read' correctly... great post, cas

Christy said...

True. My Mom always told me when I cross my arms in front of me and over my chest that it meant there was no talking to me, that I had blocked everything out.

Ange said...

I "overread" body language. I have just begun looking at my own social anxiety, and one thing I noticed is that I learned what body language means in certain types of people, and applied "rules." When someone does X it means Y. The problem is as I've gotten older, I've met very many different types of people, and the nonverbal stuff doesn't mean what I've taught myself it means in a lot of cases and my brain screams NO COMPUTE NO COMPUTE! I of course hate being in large groups of people I know (I'm fine in groups of people I don't know as long as I have 1 person I do know to latch onto) because I can't tune out the conversation or the body language. And for whatever reason, I always apply the body language to me. So if someone across the table is rolling their eyes during a meeting, it must be directed to me. Chances are they are rolling their eyes at who's speaking or they have something in their eye, but I obsess about what I did to make them roll their eyes.
I've way overgeneralized all the body language the media has taught us too. Like if a person looks a certain way they are lying, or if they cross their arms, they are stand offish, or whatever. I avoid eye contact when it's a situation where it's expected (like paying a cashier), and I cross my arms when I don't know what to do with them or I'm cold. I must look like a standoffish liar! ;)

Flea said...

Can I ask a question, totally non-related? What gift would an 11 year old autistic boy like for his birthday? According to his mom, creative toys are out. He and my son are friends and he'd like to get the kid something enjoyable. Help?

Maddy said...

Originally I learned all I knew from Desmond Morris! Pity he's been largely discredited now, but I had to relearn everything anyway.
Cheers

Rhonda said...

Sometimes I mis-read body language so I try not to put all my eggs in that basket.
:)

leslie said...

I believe that even non-autistic people (i.e. normal - whatever that means) could do a better job in taking note of body language. Sometimes we're so into our own minds that we miss those cues. Great post, casdok!

MMC said...

And then there's NLD - nonverbal learnng disorder or disabiity, I've seen it called both. Anyway, here you can have very high-functioning, in fact often very highly verbal people of normal or above intelligence who can't pick up social cues. Makes making no friends very hard for a kid, I tell ya.

But as it was explained to me once,its all a continumn, from severly autistic to 'nearmal' and we all fit in there somewhere.

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

Geez, I hate to hear what my low cut tops say about me!

CrackerLilo said...

I have tutored autistic people; that's definitely something I learned the hard way. I had to learn to speak very literally and explicitly.

Ian Lidster said...

That's why I find it difficult to indulge in extended telephone conversations. I cannot see the person's expressions nor their body language while we talk.

katy said...

now i am going to take more notice of bosy language, mine and others thankyou, but i could never play poker i would give all away!!!

Meredith said...

I guess that's why it's _really_ important to _avoid_ offline communication with NTs you really care about. This way you don't misread them and/or don't have to direct all your concentration to their body language rather than their words.

Also, NTs can misread me as well. For example, they think stimming is supposed to mean something, i.e. something is wrong with me or I am nervous or whatever... when it's just for pure sensory delight.

Who's harder to read, huh?

J said...

Human beings are so complex aren't we? Sigh.

Preposterous Ponderings said...

Actions have always spoken louder than words to me.

Mrs. C said...

Well, the recognizing social class thing is something G does NOT do. He also is easily led by "friends" into bad behaviour... Consequently most of his "friends" either have a lot of problems themselves, or they're really people making fun of him without his knowing it. It's very hard for him.

I read your link about the disabled man who was beaten to death and I just cried my eyes out. To a lesser extent, that is SO how G would be. It just amazes me how cruel people are once they "pick up" that the autistic they are talking to is genuinely clueless.

Patti said...

Interesting post. It's fun to try to read what others are really saying.

Angela said...

As a blind person I also have trouble with this. Sometimes I may not even respond to a person because I don't know they are talking to me.

Josie said...

This is very interesting. (Leslie sent me here...) It's so true, isn't it that visual cues are very important.

I'm going to read your post about facial expressions now.

TheBirdman33 said...

now I am going over and over the first date I had the other night.

What her actions meant, how I communicated myself through body language...

Marla said...

I have to be real careful about my body language with my daughter. As a family, we all feed off of one another's body language. If I am holding myself super stressed M will become super stressed too.

slouching mom said...

fascinating stuff, i've always thought -- what we reveal nonverbally...

Paul F. said...

Maybe an autistics body language speaks louder than is realized. I keep thinking about these straight lines that C needs to have. Is there any rationality to that? I'm sure there is for him and when those straight lines don't happen, he can really only communicate his displeasure through body language.

Flea said...

I wound up picking up this:
http://www.ozmofun.com/relaxing/r03/r03.htm
Except it's the plastic version and it glows in the dark. The site, BTW, is very cool.

Thanks again!