Body language represents a very significant proportion of the meaning that is conveyed and interpreted between people, especially in face-to-face and one-to-one communications, and most definitely when the communication involve an emotional or attitudinal element.
Many body language experts and sources seem to agree that between 50-80% of all human communications are non-verbal. So while body language statistics vary according to situation, it is generally accepted that non-verbal communication is very important in how we understand each other; for example, the head is very significant in body language.
A person’s head, due to a very flexible neck structure, can turn, jut forward, withdraw, and tilt sideway, forward, backward. All of these movements have meanings. Here are some popular signals and their interpretation.
- Head nodding
Head nodding can occur when invited for a response, or voluntarily while listening. Nodding is confusingly and rather daftly also referred to as ‘head shaking up and down’. Head nodding when talking face-to-face one-to-one is easy to see, but do you always detect tiny head nods when addressing or observing a group? Possible Meaning “Agreement”
- Slow head nodding
This can be a faked signal. As with all body language signals you must look for clusters of signals rather than relying on one alone. Look at the focus of eyes to check the validity of slow head nodding. Possible Meaning “Attentive listening”
- Fast head nodding
Vigorous head nodding signifies that the listener feels the speaker has made their point or taken sufficient time. Fast head nodding is rather like the ‘wind-up’ hand gesture given off-camera or off-stage by a producer to a performer, indicating ‘time’ is up – get off’. Possible Meaning “Hurry up, impatience”
- Head held up
High head position signifies attentive listening, usually with an open or undecided mind, or lack of bias. Possible Meaning “Neutrality, alertness”
- Head held high
Especially if exhibited with jutting chin. Possible Meaning “Superiority, fearlessness, arrogance”
- Head tilted to one side
A signal of interest, and/or vulnerability, which in turn suggests a level of trust. Head tilting is thought by some to relate to ‘sizing up’ something, since tilting the head changes the perspective offered by the eyes, and a different view is seen of the other person or subject. Exposing the neck is also a sign of trust. Possible Meaning “Non-threatening, submissive, thoughtfulness”
In order to understand possible meanings of Body Language, one has to look at different interactions of different body parts such as the head – when our hands interact with it – is therefore dynamic and busy in communicating all sorts of messages – consciously and unconsciously.