RESEARCH has shown that people with a better understanding of body language are more successful at selling, leading and getting what they want from any situation. They are more likely to convince people to trust them and to be perceived as "charismatic" by others.

Why is body language such a tremendous factor in success? And why should you devote extra minutes in your week to master it? Here are three reasons:

1 People lie, but their subconscious actions do not

Sigmund Freud, an early believer in the utility of body language, felt, as do many researchers, that although we cannot rely on the truth of words, non-verbal behaviour often does project truth.

Through body language, people express their conscious and subconscious emotions, desires and attitudes.

Body language, therefore, gives us a window into someone's real intentions, whether they are honest or not.

Intuitively, you can often tell just by looking at someone when they are lying, scared, angry, happy, confident or upset.

But you sometimes encounter people you simply cannot get a "read" on.

A mastery of body language will give you specific tools to help you identify what gestures, movements or body parts to focus on when you are evaluating the honesty and credibility of another person.

With this same knowledge, you will also know how to use body language to communicate honesty, credibility and trust to the people you are dealing with.

2 Better communication, better relationships

Did you know that unless you understand non-verbal body language, you are losing as much as 50 per cent of the message that is being communicated?

By increasing your awareness of body language, you can read the emotions and attitudes of people you interact with at home and at work.

As a result, you will have a greater awareness of all your interpersonal interactions. This increased rapport leads to increased trust and productivity.

The study of body language can also help improve others' understanding of you.

The better you are able to transmit messages so that others receive them as they were intended, the more effective you will be.

Therefore, be acutely aware of the non-verbal messages you are projecting.

When you project negative body language or lack sensitivity in observing the non-verbal communication of others, you increase tension and decrease trust. The "bad vibes" that result can be disastrous to present and future relationships.

3 The language can be mastered

The ability to understand body language is not related to IQ, the ability to take tests or the grades one gets in school.

Studies show that practice makes perfect. People tested for body language comprehension generally score higher on second and subsequent tests than on their first tries.

Here is perhaps the best reason of all for increasing your understanding of body language, starting today: You have no excuse not to.

Start simply and commit one hour a week to reading about body language and/or analysing the body language you and others bring to every encounter.

In a few months, you will be consciously shaping your body language to produce the best results for your work or personal life.