By Kelly Baumann
April 6, 2009
Body Language and ASL
Believe it or not a class like ASL can benefit your life in many surprising
ways. I have found that even if you never use the actual signs again after
taking the course, the use of body language that you are taught can improve
your ability to date, get a job and even strengthen an existing
relationship. Body language includes our: mouth, eyebrows and cheeks all the
way down to our elbows, bellies and feet. All these body parts indicate our
underlying feelings and intentions. With the proper knowledge you can use
the full potential and force of body language to make situations and
experiences have your desired outcome.
If you have never thought about the connection sign language has with body
language simply read the Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health
definition of American Sign Language, "ASL is an autonomous linguistic
system independent of English. It is a visual/spatial/gestural language that
is very expressive and dependent on visual cues of the hands, body and
face." (Moore, 2009) I bet you have noticed before that you can easily tell
what a conversation is consisting of between two people even if you cannot
'hear' it. Just by watching a couple through a window you can tell if their
conversation is casual, an argument or one of endearment.
In American Sign Language facial expressions and gestures are extremely
important. In fact without the facial expressions some signs would have no
variation, an example of this would be the sign for "Know" and "Don't Know"
require facial movements to convey which one the individual means. (Vicars,
2006) Similarly in real life situations such as an interview body language
conveys exactly what you are trying to say, even more so than the actual
words that come from your speaking voice.
In an interview bad posture reflects low self esteem and a general dislike
for your surroundings and company. I think that everyone will agree that if
you are in an interview this is not the signs you want to send. According to
Askmen.com everything from your eye contact to your fidgety feet to your
handshake make up the interviewers mind in the end. (Harrison, 2009) With a
little practice and awareness of the power of body language you could change
the entire outcome! Many people find that they do not have successful dates
and feel misunderstood. Your nervous behavior could be misconstrued by the
other individual as a distrust in them or it may appear as if you have
somewhere else to be.
When using American Sign Language you must engage in constant eye contact,
when speaking this is helpful (especially on a date) because it builds
feelings of trust and intimacy. Eye contact shows that you are interested
and listening, you are an active member of the conversation. Everyone can
benefit from the instruction in body language that ASL classes provide. Try
some of these techniques today!
Harrison, Ian. (2009, April 05). "What Your Body Language Says About You."
AskMen.com. Retrieved: 05 Apr, 2009.
Moore, Timothy E. "American sign language". Encyclopedia of Nursing and
Allied Health. FindArticles.com. 05 Apr, 2009. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gGENH/is_20050229/ai_2699003027/>
Vicars, Bill. (2006, August 30). "Facial Expressions." Lifeprint.com.
Retrieved: 05, Apr, 2009.