Body language is a language of body motion, behavior, and gestures studied in kinesics. Different gestures expressed by people can often tell much about their thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Therefore, observing body signs may help people understand each other better in a non-verbal way. Gestures are divided into several types in modern kinesics, including emblems, illustrators, regulators, adaptors, and affect displays. This paper provides observations of people who use different non-verbal gestures during the communication process. The body language of those people played a significant role in their conversation, helping them express their thoughts and ideas while speaking to each other.
Observation of two young women in the mall cafeteria was a background for this study. The women were sitting at a nearby table, and the distance between the women and the observer was long enough, so the author could not hear what they spoke about, only observed to note specific gestures the women used. The first observation was associated with hand signs that the women used throughout their entire conversation. Such signs are called illustrators, and they are usually used as complements for people’s words. The women periodically moved their hands with increased activeness, which indicates that some parts of their dialogue were emotional. According to Al-Heeh and Diek (2021), emotional situations cause body language to have pressure in a conversation and even prevail over words. In addition, the women often smiled and laughed, meaning that they probably enjoyed themselves and were in a good mood. Such gestures refer to affect displays, which include facial expressions motivated by emotion. Judging by the body signs described above, the author could identify the women’s moods and emotions that accompanied their dialogue.
Although the women used body language often, they did not seem to be aware of the gestures they gave to each other. That is reasonable since people tend to use various gestures subconsciously to express their thoughts and feelings (Al-Heeh & Diek, 2021). The gestures described in modern kinesics include more than 700,000 different body signs, meaning that people are not likely to always use them on purpose (Al-Heeh & Diek, 2021). In the case under discussion, the women seemed to have an ordinary friendly conversation without using body signs by design.
In addition to smiling, laughing, and moving their hands, the women sometimes mended their hair, touched their faces, and tapped the table with their fingers. These signs may express confusion or disturbance (Al-Heeh & Diek, 2021). The women also looked at their phones sometimes, probably to check whether their makeups were fine. These body gestures are adaptors that help people feel more comfortable in a conversation. Furthermore, the women nodded (meaning “yes”), shook their heads (meaning “no”), and shrugged (meaning “I do not know”). They also sometimes looked at the ceiling of the building, which seemed as if they were thinking about something. These signs may imply that the conversation between the women was active, and they were often asking each other questions. These gestures refer to emblems that have direct verbal translations. The women probably used the emblems knowingly as they likely intended to answer specific questions.
Overall, the conversation of the two women observed involved many various gestures of several types, which played a significant part in the dialogue. Although most of those gestures were used subconsciously, some were probably used on purpose, specifically the emblems. Watching the women speak to each other while using different body signs helped identify their moods and understand their emotions without listening to the same dialogue.
Al-Heeh, D. S., & Diek, D. M. (2021). Body language in the Quranic discourse from a modern kinesic and semiotic perspective. Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 26(6), 17-33. Web.