For two days in January I took part in a Theatre Versus Oppression led workshop on understanding body language. I consider myself to be someone quite self-conscious of my body but I wouldn’t say that I had a great awareness of the meaning of body language. I think that as a result of the course my understanding of body language and also my understanding of my body as a means of communication changed considerably.
I will admit that I was quite skeptical of the idea of studying body language but I think on consideration this was probably because of my perception of what it means to study body language. I think if I had been asked what the aim of studying body language was I would have said that it was to understand what a person was thinking; having been on the course I think this perception has shifted slightly. What I mean by this is that to me it would be wrong to view body language as a way to gain some kind of telepathic powers that will tell you what a person’s inner thoughts are. For me body language is a way to understand a person’s feelings rather than their thoughts and that seems a quite important distinction.
The workshop consisted of a mixture of discussion of the theory underpinning body language as well as exercises to demonstrate the practicality of body language. For me one of the interesting things to come out of the exercises was the realization of how much of our everyday automatic assumptions are already based upon assumptions made from reading body language. I guess the important lesson here is that everybody already does read body language – it is pervasive, automatic and an essential part of how we function as social beings – however most people don’t realize they do.
I think that as a result of the course I gained an appreciation of what body language involves and how it works. I think I also had a valuable opportunity to consider my own body language and how it is perceived by others, I think this is possibly the most valuable element of the course and something that it is quite rare to have. The course definitely has given me a desire to study body language further and also to see how I can apply it to the real world.