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December 31, 2011

Reading Body Language - Para Language

Many a times, how words are pronounced by somebody is most important than what they literally mean. There’s strong relation between our emotional state and clues we convey through pronunciations. This relation is studied under a branch of science, which is called as PARA LANGUAGE.

Humans have well developed system for creating different sounds with varying tone, volume, pitch and annotations. Torso, throat, oral cavity, lips, jaws, tongue and facial muscles play different roles in vocal articulation.

Age, level of energy, body mass, endurance, medical condition, illness and hormones also have large impact on human voice. The kind of sound an individual naturally creates while speaking is identical to the individual's own signatures.

Emotions, attitudes and feelings can be conveyed and interpreted with the help of voice only. In fact, some of us are very much skilled in understanding emotions just by listening to voice and not watching any facial expressions at all.

Like paying keen attention to body language clues, listening to voice also gives insight of person’s emotional, cognitive and also physical state. Emotional and homeostatic processes too are deciding factors in same. We can understand emotional state, just by listening to speech of a person. Can we reverse direction of this process?

Let's try to figure out that how each individual shown below would most likely to pronounce/utter words or create sound from its mouth just by looking at its body language in the given situation.

What kind of sound each person would make?

1) A police officer who is standing upright and looking dominant - bluffed chest, stiff neck and hands on put hips or hold on back. He would be able to talk in firm tone and uniform pitch very easily.

2) A lonely lady who looks physical exhausted and trying to console herself. She would speak in monotonous and sluggish voice (on telephone) because she is sad or exhausted.

3) A boy who is making merry, playing, jumping and dancing. He would laugh or twitter sound in joyous tone. It's play time for him without any external interference.

4) A lady who is sharing something with other person by sitting very closely to it. They are not making any gestures and meeting gaze with others. She must be whispering in a secretive low tone. Highly private gossip!

5) A couple who is making aggressive gestures, clenching fists, bearing teeth, crossing hands on chests and fiercely gazing towards each other. Definitely, they would yelling and shouting on each other.

6) A salesman who has leaned forward and titled neck at one side, He has put on smiley face while speaking. He must be buttering up your boss to place an order or sign a contract.

Ability to decipher emotions, sentiments, moods and intentions based entirely upon the para-linguistic clues is the most useful especially when we cannot observe somebody talking with us face to face.

Related Articles:
1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Body Language Brain 3) Clusters 4) Congruence 5) Proxemics 6) Context 7) Micro Expressions 8) Postures 9) Facial Expressions 10) Hand Gestures 11) Challenges 12) Interpretation 13) Baseline 14)Perceptual Bias 15) Basic Body Clues

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