Tips For Interpreting Body Language
Being aware of the nonverbal cues that people send out with their bodies is a very important skill. Often, the body betrays what our mouths are saying, and if you know the signs to look for, you can have the upper hand in social circles. Here are 5 tips on how to interpret another person’s body language:
- Eye Contact. Eye contact, or lack thereof is one of the best ways to read a person and gauge their intentions. If the person you are speaking with looks down at the floor a lot, they may just be feeling a little shy or nervous. However, if their eyes dart to each side or look around the room while they’re speaking, it generally means they’re distracted or being dishonest. Strong eye contact generally indicates a high level of interest in what you’re saying, and a high confidence level.
- Distance. Basically, the closer someone is to you, the more they like you. If they’re leaning toward you, take it as a good sign. You can even test this by leaning towards them. Check their reaction; if they keep their position or lean even more towards you, they definitely are interested. If they respond by leaning back, it means keep your distance (at least for now).
- Gestures/Arm Positions. Check the position of the arms. Usually, someone with crossed arms is not feeling open to social interaction. Some people cross their arms as a habit, this could still signify someone who is more reserved and/or self-conscious. If the arms are in an open position or behind the head, it usually indicates that person is comfortable with his or her surroundings and is feeling relaxed.
- Head Position. A lowered head sometimes means a need to hide something, depending on the context. If a person lowers their head after telling you something, they may be unsure of the information they just gave you. If the head is lowered when you’re the one doing the talking, it may just be a sign of submission to whatever it is you’re saying.
- Feet/Legs. If the feet are constantly tapping or shifting, it usually means the person is nervous, excited, or simply hyper. If feet stay crossed while sitting, it generally means the person is relaxed and at ease.
Tips: Don’t focus your whole attention on trying to read someone’s body language, you’ll look like weirdo, and it will be hard to actually pay attention to what they’re saying. Observe discreetly. Keep cultural differences in mind. For instance, in some cultures, direct eye contact is a sign of disrespect. Therefore, don’t immediately brand someone a liar because of poor eye contact. Decoding body language is all about context.