Oral History Interview & Importance Part 16

Body Language

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


It is imperative for an interviewer to be well versed on communication techniques and apply them to properly manage the interview. One of these techniques is Body Language.

Body language or non-verbal communication comprises a major part of our daily communication. This techniques is in times clearer and more effective than verbal communication and it is perceived to be a complementary component. This communication technique might be a reflection of any individual’s emotional or physical status. Hence, it is important to know and apply it properly to promote our verbal and non-verbal communication skills in an interview.

Some experts believe that a careful study of the body language makes it possible to recognize their emotional status. Many people reflect the emotions and affection through body language. For instance, it is possible to understand the state of happiness, grief, excitement, anxiety, peace, impatience, perplexity, inability, despair or other emotions through hand, food and eye movements.

Some body movements have specific connotations in the culture of a community which is unique and people use them consciously instead of words. Obviously, in an interview with individuals from a specific cultural origin, it is important to know these signs to avoid any complications with the narrator. In interviews with religious or political or civil figures, the interviewee takes offence against the sitting manner or position of the interviewer; such positions might contradict their culture of respect! For instance, years back, a group travelled to Egypt to interview Sheik al Azhar, however, since he took offence on the way one of the interviewers was sitting, he asked the team member to leave the room!

Body language movements and signs imply meanings and are important communicators of other feelings to the audience such as trust or distrust; excitement; lack of interest. Looking at the body language of people when they talk, for instance, if they’re sure of what they’re saying or when they are happy and excited, you see more hand movements and body language signs and it can exceed the level of words and transform into imagery. Some people use the movement of their hands and foot to draw an image and picture of the event they are talking about and if deprived from movement possibility they shall fail in communicating a message.

Obviously, we learn these signs in time and by living within our families and communities and apply them, right or wrong, in our daily conversations. This communication method like verbal communication evolves in time due to various cultural and social effects. Knowledge of and attention to these changes helps us to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations in our communication with others.

Other notes will be made on body language function and application in the next article.


Oral History Interview & Importance Part 1 - Oral History, Path to Cultural Dialogue

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 2 - Characteristics of an Interviewer

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 3 - Selecting a Subject

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 4 - Narrator Identification & Selection

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 5 - Goal Setting

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 6 - Importance of Pre-interview Data Collection

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 7 - To Schedule & Coordinate an Interview

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 8 - Required Equipment & Accessories

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 9 - Presentation is vital

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 10 - Interview Room

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 11 - Pre-interview Justifications

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 12 - How to Start an Interview

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 13 - Proper Query

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 14 - Sample Query

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 15 - How to ask questions?

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