Communicating is essential for human beings, being necessary to live together in society and to be able to understand and make ourselves understood. Fortunately, we have a very useful tool for this: language. But there is no single language, but in our interactions with others we can apply different types of language.
In particular, body language is one of the most powerful communication tools we have. Moreover, there is a link between our personality and the body language style we use.
However, to understand this we must first take into account that language is capable of taking on many forms and that our way of being is not only reflected in what we say literally through words.
Much more than words
Although generally when we speak of language we think of speech and verbal communication, we understand by language all that system used by one or more individuals to transmit information through a series of symbolic elements or signs whose meaning is shared by both interlocutors, this emission of information can be voluntary or involuntary.
This communication is established with a specific objective, and the act may have different functions such as informing, persuading, organizing one’s own behavior or social bonding.
Types of body language
Language can also be classified according to what kind of elements are used in the communicative exchange.
As far as body language is concerned, it can be classified in this way:
Gestual or kinesic
Kinesis refers to the use of gestures and movements in order to transmit information , being especially useful to express the emotionality of the sending individual.
This is what communicates our general position and the separation between the different components of the communicative situation . In other words, it is about the meaning of distances.
Separation or proximity between people indicates different degrees of trust and/or power positions between individuals, as well as the relationship between what we say and what we mean by it (we come closer when we want to involve the other in what we say, for example). A distinction is made between intimate, personal, social and public distances.
The relationship between personality and body language
As we have seen, body language includes the gestures we make and the way we approach or distance ourselves from certain elements or people.
Taking this into account, we can talk about the style of gestural language associated with the main personality types:
1. Shy personality
In social situations, shy people are more likely to keep their arms and legs close to the vertical axis of their chest. In turn, they show a tendency to look little into the eyes of people who relate to them.
On the other hand, they often keep their arms crossed in front of their chest or join their hands below their navel . They tend to keep a safe distance from people they do not know very well and are anxious to be touched by them, although this does not happen in some cultures.
2. Open personality
This style of personality is characterized by openness to experience and the search for new stimuli. As far as the non-verbal language associated with this class of people is concerned, it is characterised by expansive expressiveness, which means that they separate their arms and legs from the vertical axis of the trunk very easily and that, in general, their posture denotes the relaxation of their muscles. For example, when they are sitting they can stretch and separate their legs a lot, unless they are in a very formal context.
Another characteristic of these people is that they do not hesitate to look into other people’s eyes, although they only do so to capture more information about them, not to communicate about themselves.
3. Dominant personality
Dominant people express their power through their gestures and postures. They often make fast and powerful movements , with their muscles tense, although it is not something they do constantly, as in that case these actions would lose their impact. They also tend to get very close to other people, and use their gaze in a calculated way to show determination and to intimidate: they look into the eyes in an intense and prolonged way so that it has to be the other person who pushes them away.
4. Friendly personality
A friendly personality is typical of individuals who constantly try to express that their intentions are good and that there is no need to keep their defenses up. They tend to do this by expressing subordination , which may be real or apparent, such as leaning the trunk slightly towards the other person and making slow, gentle gestures which move from the speaker to some point outside the speaker, which denotes that they take the other person’s perspective.
5. Neurotic personality
People with a neurotic personality style express their emotions in a disorganized and almost “unfiltered” way . This means that they can mix several gestures and proxemic styles over a few hours, and in a very marked and not very subtle way.
6. Emotionally stable personality
These people maintain a body language that tends towards neutrality , which means that the style they use to express how they feel is as stable as their mood.