Body language interpretation involves the study of gestures, actions and facial expressions related to human behavior.
In our daily lives, the art of proper body language interpretation is all about the ability to look closely at the individual you are communicating with and picking up various signals, some of the basic ones of which we have already described. A key factor of body language interpretation is to ensure that you are subtle about what you are doing so that the other person does not realize what you are doing this. Failure to do so will result in the person feeling uncomfortable and distracted by your behavior.
Body language entails gestures and movements involving all different parts of the body, from head to toe. We’re going to go over the basic meanings of each area of the body.
When learning to read body language, observation is the key. Focusing on what others say verbally is not always enough because our language capabilities are such that a person can say one thing and easily mean something else. People can have a tendency to use very vague language when expressing them. As you learn to closely observe, not only what is being said but, how it is said, you are developing an essential skill require to successful read body language.
Other non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and tone of voice are also very important in learning to read body language. Observing facial expression is one of the easiest parts of the body to read when it comes to learning to read body language. Though, it is very common that people will attempt to try to mask facial expressions. This very act of trying to conceal how they feel can then give a close observer the idea about how that person feels about the topic that they are talking about.
Features Of Body Language
Communication is dynamic. It’s an on-going process. It moves back and forth from sender to receiver in the form of feedback and interaction. Human beings change and grow as individuals, and so does communication patterns and the interpretation of body language communication. The changes are also noticeable from one place to another.
Communication occurs between people. It also occurs internally. The internal communication always involves the three aspects of human life: physical, psychological and the spiritual. Refer to this section to become better acquainted with conscious, and subconscious communication, and the intellect necessary in body- language communication.
Communication produces negative or positive results. The basis behind various reactions changes from one person to the next or one scenario and another. Outside of context, responses to body-language communication cannot always be predicted. Communication, therefore, can take various conversation tracks depending on the circumstances surrounding it.
In the heat of the moment, you may use violent, unproductive communication only to regret having used those harsh words. One mentor illustrated the harm that gossip can produce in the fragile community of family and friends. He took the offending gossiper to the top of the town’s tallest building. When the repentant young man regretted speaking lies about a colleague and wished to undo the damage, the patient teacher gently pulled out his method of driving home a point. When the young man objected to the proposal, claiming that it would be impossible to retrieve each feather, the teacher wisely drove home his point. “Angry, harmful words like these feathers- can easily leave your mouth, but is impossible to reverse the damage entirely done. Even an apology cannot fully erase the pain from the memory of the one who you spoke to so harshly.” Grieved, the young gossiper vowed always to be more careful of letting angry words fly out of his mouth.
Unwisely spoken words portray a lack of control. A proverb says, “He that has no control over his spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.” In the case of internal communication, speaking harmful, negative words to yourself leads to disillusionment. Negative self-talk can alter your view of yourself. Interpersonal communication it is the outward demonstration of your conversation. Speaking kindly to yourself can help you to learn of to speak kindly to others.
Communication between the conscious and the subconscious aspects of our personalities work in harmony to produce desired results in life. You become the person that you develop through internal conversation. The two, pulling in separate opposite directions, only create conflict, retard growth and slow down life. You can look in the mirror and physically say to yourself that you are awesome, but if your spirit counters that with a negative response, you could find yourself slipping backward in personal growth.
- Increases Commitment
The more you engage the mind in positive thinking, the more that positive can thoughts take center stage in your mind. This permits you more chances for you to create and exhibit positive body language.
Communication has no meaning apart from its surrounding. The simple command “move” can take on significance depending on the situation. In a simple setting, a mother can place a hand on a child’s shoulder to move him aside to be able to reach something on the top shelf. I a different circumstance, the word “move” can become a warning to get a person out of the path of a falling boulder.
All of these aspects can be simply concluded by saying that communication does not take place in a vacuum.
How Body Language Fits In the Ideal Pattern Of Communication
All body movements convey meaning. However, meanings vary from place to place, culture to culture, country to country and continent to continent. There are three distinct notable classifications of body language commonly used in most cases. This section of the article explores the three distinct classifications of body language communication.
- Physical – Scratching, winking, stretching, yawning all some of most common outward body movements.
- Psychological – Intellect.
- Social – Touching
Read about scratching, winking and stretching physical classification. Engage your intellect with psychological insights on body language and touch base with social body language communication.
When verbal communication breaks down as it does many times in life, body language offers alternative escape route to create understanding between people. Whether you use the hand, arm, head, or trunk, all body part movements communicate messages. This is observed when a deaf person and a hearing person attempt to communicate.
You read how the three aspects of human life the physical, psychological land spiritual influence body language communication in this article. The subject of this article is on body language communication. Therefore, you can’t have body language without a body.
You’re a physical human being. You’re also psychological and social being. These three aspects of human life influence body language communication.
Negotiations and the Body Language
You negotiate every day. For example, you negotiate with your boss to have a well-deserved raise. Interestingly, body language plays an important role in each aspect of a negotiation.
Body language becomes crucial when it comes to business-related negotiations. By reading the gestures of others and performing the right body movements, you will have great “winning chances” in the negotiation.
The Initial Phase
The negotiation starts as soon as you enter the “negotiation area.” Observe the body language of your counterpart/s. focus on their chest, head, hands, feet, legs and arms. Aside from reading their body signs, this technique will help you become an effective listener.
The Personal Space
During a negotiation, every individual establishes his personal space (also known as “territory”). In businesses, the “higher ups” (i.e. the high-ranking officials of the company) require wide personal space.
For instance, the right to sit in the “dominant chair” (i.e. the chair in the table's head) symbolizes power. You can counter the authority of the “dominant person” by setting your allies around the table. Surround the dominant party or go for a seating arrangement that lets you gain more control over the discussion.
When it comes to negotiations, the most important move is the first one. It's like you're playing chess. The person who has the first move has the advantage because he can make the first attack. The moves and the overall strategy to use in the game depend on the first move made on the board.
Thus, you need to make a first move that is firm, logical and deeply analyzed. Start with your body language. Project positivity and enthusiasm. For instance, if you are in an important meeting, look other people in the eyes. As you've probably heard before, eyes serve as windows to a person's soul. If you can't establish and keep eye contact with your counterparts, they will think that you are lying or hiding something.
Make sure that your handshake is solid. Hold the other person's hand firmly. Some people think that squeezing the hand of the other person is great. However, nothing can be further from the truth.
Establish eye contact and press the other person's hand once. Pressing his hand twice means that you are excited about the negotiation. Pressing the person's hand three or more times, however, can make him feel uncomfortable.
Use your Knowledge Regarding Body Language
While negotiating, observe the body movements of the people involved. The first part of this article taught you how to read people's signs. Use that knowledge to know whether the people you're talking to believe you, doubt you, or accept what you said. You can even use body language to detect if someone is lying.
Recognize and analyze the signals mentioned above. Additionally, you need to consider all of the actions you make. If you exhibit signs of self-doubt, fear or nervousness, your counterparts (particularly those who know body language) may exploit the situation.
How To Tell If Someone Is Lying
Everybody lies. Friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, spouses, and even the guy at the supermarket who heartily insists that the limp lettuce on display "just came in this morning." In times like these when deceit is so rampant among us, it pays to be able to tell if someone is lying to you. Check out the hints below on how to hone your lie detection skills so that next time you suspect it, you'll be able to tell easily if someone is lying to you.
Lie Detection by Body Language
Stiffness-Liars are often very tense and will make as few limb movements as possible while lying or discussing a lie.
Twitching fingers-Though their limbs are tense, liars often cannot resist small nervous movements of their fingers. They will also often play idly with small objects nearby such as pens, keys, and their accessories.
Face Touching. Excessive, nervous, or idle contact with the face, ears, and nose is another give away among liars. Many people report persistent nose itching when deceiving someone.
Gestures that are Inappropriate - They may be lying during their speech if they make untimely gestures or if someone's body motions do not fit with what is being said.
Fake Emotions-When an emotion is sincere, the hundreds of tiny muscles in a person's face work together to convey that emotion. Fake emotions, like a fake smile, tend to extend only to the mouth region of the face, never reaching the eyes, cheeks, and other areas of the face. So if someone's smile or frown is nothing more than a mere pulling off the lips up or down respectively, this can accurately detect if that someone is lying to you.
Face Twitches. For the same reason of facial muscles mentioned above, most people cannot hide the brief flicker of their true emotions that flits across their face when they feel something. Though these flickers usually last as little as a quarter of a second, scrutiny of their face can reveal if someone is lying to you.
Lie Detection by Speech
Changes in Tenor-If someone's voice is notably higher or lower pitched than it usually is, or if a voice that doesn't usually crack does, this can indicate nervousness and deception.
Vague Statements-Liars often rely on "loopholes" in questions or statements to make their response not "technically" untrue. This usually manifests itself as very vague statements or as responses using the same phrasing as the question.
Distancing language- Among Liars, a popular means of self-detachment from their deception is distancing language, that is using words and phrases that convey a meaning while avoiding mentioning a person, specifically their person. So in answering the question "Did you remember to feed my dog this morning?" someone who is lying to you might respond, "The dog was fed."
Contraction Omission-Liars tend to shy away from using contractions to sound firm and convincing. When "accused," a liar is more likely to say stoically "I did not do that." while an honest person is more likely to say heatedly "I didn't do that!"
Discomfort with Silence-If someone is lying to you, they are likely to be very uncomfortable and nervous during pauses or silences in conversations. It seems that these periodic lapses are unnerving because they offer time for dissembling on the other person's part.
So now you are armed with eleven different ways to tell if someone is lying to you. I hope that these truly help you to spot more of the lies you encounter daily. You will probably be surprised, as I was when I first learned these methods, at how many white fibs, half-truths, and plain, blunt lies you are told every day.
How To Tell If Someone Is Attracted To You
I know how you feel. I've been in that situation as well. When you like a guy but not sure if he really likes you. You don’t have to worry because there is a way to know what he thinks about you. And that way is body language.
I just want to make something clear though before we continue. Yes, body language does help a lot in determining if a guy likes you or not but never believe that it can give you the answer with 100 percent accuracy. Having said that, let's move on to the kind of body language men do when he's into you:
- The stare - If you find a guy constantly looking at you or staring at you, then it might indicate he likes you. Men like to stare at girls they either admire or like. And sometimes they make this obvious to give you a hint that he wants you.
- The curious man – When the person begins questioning your likes, dislikes, to your hobbies and talents, etc. then this is an indication that he wants to know more about you. This is also a chance for him to get close to you and be with you.
- The time – By him spending less time with his normal buddies and more time with you, then that surely much shows that he wants you. He wants to know more about you and he is interested with you.
- The alpha male- When a guy likes you, and he is with his friends then he will usually do something crazy to show that he leads the pack and that he has power.
- The change - If you notice a guy from afar (when he has not noticed you yet) the chances are his in a relaxed position and he might even be slouching a little. Now notice when you get near him, the moment he notices you his whole sitting or standing position will change. His going to stand or sit more erectly, will show his chest more, and tuck in his stomach. If you don't believe me, then try to do an experiment once in a while.
- The help - If a man likes you then he will try to help you in any way he can to make your life much easier. That he can certainly meet your needs by making you feel that you need him.
Pay attention to their body language. Do they stay turned towards you, even if you’re sitting next to each other? Watch their torso. When someone keeps their belly button facing you, it means they like you. Do they take opportunities to touch you, like on your shoulder, arms, or hands? What about their facial expressions? Remember, a natural smile will crinkle the corners of their eyes. Don’t worry too much about crossed arms or restlessness. On dates, people often cross their arms when they're thoughtful and focusing, and excitement can cause fidgeting movements.
Once you’ve determined whether or not your date likes you and if you have chemistry, it’s time to think about your values and if this is a person you want to continue seeing. What can you learn about their personality? Are they shy or extroverted? How do they react in stressful situations? Are they a naturally calm person, or nervous? Think about your conversations with them. What kinds of things do they talk about and in how much detail? Do they gossip or talk only about themselves a lot? Answering these questions about your potential partner will help you decide if they align with what’s important to you and if you respect them.
In It For The Long-Haul
Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you can still put your analytical skills to use to get a comprehensive picture of the person you’re with. When you’ve been with someone a while, it’s easy to stop paying attention to certain behaviors or never think about how a personality trait affects you. If you aren’t sure where to start analyzing, ask yourself these questions and observe their body language, facial expressions, and speech to answer them.
- How does your partner treat others?
Think about how your partner treats your family and friends, as well as their family and friends. Are they respectful? Or are they constantly getting into fights? It’s also significant to pay attention to how your partner treats strangers. There is a really good dating rule that if a person treats the wait staff at a restaurant poorly, then they’re not a good person. It shows that your partner sees certain people as inferior and therefore not worthy of good treatment, which is a major red flag.
- How does your partner respond to challenging situations?
Stressful times reveal a person’s true colors. Is your partner fun and happy until things don’t go their way? Do they become angry and pouty? Defensive? People who don’t handle the word “no” very well or who crumble under pressure are probably spoiled and used to having everything go the way they want. Being in a relationship with someone like that can be very hard, but not impossible. They just have to be willing to learn how to handle stress and that the world does not exist to please them.
- How do they show anger?
In that same vein, when they get upset, how do they show it? Be wary of the partner who becomes angry very quickly. People with short fuses have control problems and don’t have the emotional maturity to express themselves in healthy ways. If they become violent, you might be in an abusive relationship. Even if they are not violent towards you, but break things around the house, you need to consider that a red flag.
- How much does your partner talk versus how much do they listen?
If your partner is always doing all the talking and is a bad listener, it means they do not respect your ideas or make you a priority, or at the very least, it means they’re inconsiderate. On the other hand, if your partner listens a lot, but you have trouble engaging in conversation with them, it might mean that they like to think instead of talk right away, or they feel intimidated by you. Ask your partner what’s going on. Tell them if you feel railroaded all the time and like they don’t care about what you have to say. Communication is essential to a healthy relationship.
- How do they respond when you’re busy with other people?
When you’re in a group, observe your partner from a distance. Are they the jealous type who is always lurking around when you’re talking to people? Do they stand in a corner by themselves? Or are they able to entertain themselves? Whether or not your partner can handle not being the focus of your attention says a lot about their independence and possessive traits. In a healthy relationship, your partner will have no trouble with you talking to others because they trust you, and they’ll be able to find something to occupy themselves with. Even introverted people who aren’t naturally outgoing will be okay with you not holding their hand the whole evening.
Basic Body Language Confident Poses And Myths
Body language is one of the strongest indicators of how a person feels. It’s more often than not subconscious, though people can train their bodies to convey confidence and other positive traits. The definition of body language in the Oxford Dictionary is, “the conscious and unconscious movements and postures by which attitudes and feelings are communicated.” For example, slouched shoulders indicate sadness, exhaustion, or lack of confidence, while a tilted head can mean playfulness, flirting, or curiosity.
The Body-Language Basics
There are certain movements that almost always mean the same thing. Take note when you see these movements in people around you, and you’ll be off to a great start as a body-language expert. Here are the three big ones:
- Crossed legs and arms: This movement nearly always means the person is not comfortable or resisting something, whether it’s an idea or a person. They are forming a wall of their body.
- Mirroring: When a person is copying another’s body language, it means they like them and feels a connection, or they want the other person to believe that. It is very common among good negotiators and between people who are interested romantically in each other.
- Posture: How a person holds their body tells you a lot about them. A straight, erect posture screams confidence and control, while a slouched one implies weakness and uncertainty.
Another thing to remember before we get into specific areas of the body and what they can tell us is that every individual’s “language” is a little different. As an example, introverted people tend to take up less space physically than extroverted ones, but it does not necessarily mean they lack confidence. While being fidgety and restless might signal to most that the person is anxious or uncomfortable, some people are just naturally antsy. You can make snap judgments about people based on their body language that turns out to be wrong, so keep analyzing and observing them so you can learn what their specific language is.
What The Torso Tells You
Because our torso holds all of our vital organs, any movement in that area can reveal a lot about how a person feels in their environment. Humans naturally want to protect our heart, lungs, etc., so if we feel like we are in danger, we will become more guarded physically.
Height is also important. An erect torso with raised shoulders, thrown back, indicate confidence, while a slouchy torso with lowered shoulders gives off an insecure, tired aura. In a dating situation, the torso is very important. You can know that the other person is interested in you and feels safe is they stay turned towards you. If they lean in, they are comfortable. They are bringing their vital organs closer to you.
What the arms (and hands) are about
A person’s arms and hands communicate a lot. Whether or not someone “talks with their hands” can provide a peek into their personalities; people who gesture a lot are perceived as energetic and warm. High gestures for some reason accentuate that perception, while lower gestures are more common when a person is upset. Crossed arms reveal fear or anger. Bear in mind that cautious people may cross their arms automatically in unfamiliar situations, appearing grumpy and unfriendly. Pay attention to their other movements to learn more.
What about people who are fidgety? Arms and hands can reveal when a person is uncomfortable. People whose hands shake and who frequently touch their face and head are often nervous or restless. Tapping their fingers can also mean that the person is bored.
Learning From Legs And Feet
When it comes to body language, most people neglect the legs and feet. Many body-language experts believe that legs are the most honest body part we have. Pay attention to the direction of the feet and legs. They tend to lean in the direction a person wants to go. If they are pointed towards you or someone else, the person is comfortable. Pointing away means they want to leave or feel unsure enough to keep “running away” as an option.
Jittery legs and feet also signal that a person is ready to run if necessary and does not feel secure about where they are. It could be because of fear or boredom, but it’s a very noticeable move. People who tap their feet or bounce their legs when they’re sitting are often seen as rude and rushed. It’s as if their feet are itching to move and get out of there. As an AP, pay close attention to people who fidget their legs and feet a lot - it could let you know a lot about their attention spans and ability to focus.
Just like crossed arms means a person is guarding themselves, crossed legs have the same effect. Women often cross their legs or at least keep their knees together when they’re wearing skirts or dresses, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they feel uncomfortable in their environment. Men, on the other hand, often spread their legs too wide; doing what is now called “man spreading.” It gives them a relaxed, often arrogant look that takes up a lot of space.
How a person walks reveals some interesting facts about them. A confident walk free from shuffling feet is a sign of confidence and strength. A person’s gait can also immediately reveal any health problems they have, like if they have a limp or need to walk slowly because of balance issues or age. Knowing this won’t necessarily help you understand their personalities better, but it’s just another piece of information you can store away in your mind.
Being an AP in a Professional Setting
If you are in the workplace, you spend a lot of time outside your home with colleagues. Depending on your job and lifestyle, your coworkers and boss might essentially be like a second family regarding how much time and energy you use up on them. Being able to analyze them is important if you want to maintain good relationships, work through difficult projects, and succeed in your career. This section will go through how to analyze your colleagues, bosses, and audiences for when you have to give presentations and speeches.
Considering your coworkers
Being in good standing with your co-workers is extremely important when it comes to job satisfaction. If your coworkers dislike you, they’ll be much harder to work with and can make your work life miserable. How can you tell whether or not you fit in well at a job? Here are negative and positive behaviors to be on the lookout for:
- People smile at you
If your coworkers like you and want you to like them, they will smile at you. Whether it’s when you enter a room and they’re greeting you, or you’re talking to them, watch for that genuine, eye-crinkling smile. Obviously, everyone has their bad days, but as an AP, you should be able to consider all the days and see whether or not a natural smile is a stable or a rarity.
- They always acknowledge you
When you walk into work, do people greet you with a “good morning?” How about a “See you tomorrow” when you leave? These small acknowledgments show that your coworkers want to make you feel welcome and seen. If they ignore you, they don’t care enough to even say hello or goodbye, or they’ve just genuinely not noticed you, which is also not a good sign.
- Coworkers don’t gossip about you
Gossip, cliques, and other immaturities are common even in professional settings. If a coworker or coworkers refuse to participate in that sort of behavior when it comes to you, it means they respect you. They don’t want to contribute to a hostile environment, and they want to stick up for you when you’re not around to defend yourself. Obviously, gossip about you won’t happen when you’re there, so how do you know if a coworker isn’t spreading rumors? You’ll know. If they are badmouthing you, it will come back around to you.
- They avoid talking to you
Whether they are answering your questions with really short replies or always choosing to email you instead of just walking over, it’s a pretty sure sign a co-worker doesn’t like you. If they are normally chatty with others, but always quiet and moody around you, that’s another signal. They don’t want to interact with you any more than is necessary.
- People never make it personal
If your coworkers never engage with you on a personal level by including you in office humor, inviting you to social events like happy hour, or even asking you about your life outside work, you do not have a good relationship with them. They either are actively avoiding you or don’t care enough to remember you exist outside essential work interactions. Don’t chalk it up as just “professionalism” - you can have professional and personal relationships with people at work.
- They avoid eye contact with you
When a person doesn’t like or respect someone else, it’s hard to make eye contact with them. That’s probably because they’re afraid their eyes will reveal the truth about how they feel. If you have a coworker who never looks you in the eye when they’re talking to you, they probably don’t like or trust you for some reason.
How to speak to an audience
Giving speeches to your coworkers and others is a big part of a lot of jobs. There are three big factors to consider: age of your audience, their education, and culture. Understanding your audience allows you to create your speech just for them and their backgrounds. They’ll be much more receptive to your ideas when you find common ground.
You’ll usually have a general idea of how old your audience is. Depending on your company, it might be a mix of young and older, mostly older, or younger. As an example, a hip start-up will probably have a lot younger people than a big corporation. Knowing the age of your audience can help you choose stories from the past that they will have a context for. You won’t want to use pre-Internet stories or a story about a broken fax machine for an audience that is in their 20’s 0r 30’s.
Elements Of Effective Communication
A pat on the back, a wink, or a hug, are all signs of body language communication
A handshake can communicate much more than a simple greeting. Two men can establish dominance by the pressure of their handshakes. It can also be a way of acknowledging the other person's presence and well-being. You engage the other person in conversation with a warm and encouraging handshake.
Through handshake, you seek to know the other person’s health, and wealth, as well as wish the person good fortune.
It is hard, but not impossible to eliminate simple social habits such as shaking hands if the custom has no value in another culture. You may not realize the fact that shaking hands is not a universally standard practice all over the world. You may not be able to rid yourself of the excitement of shaking hands with everyone if it a set habit for you. Your enjoyment of employing this type of greeting may show that you are so thirsty for social contact that it is like you are dehydrated. You may believe that you could drink a whole ocean of social interaction.
But, while every habit of the local citizens in the country where you are the visitor may fascinates you, you may be turning a blind eye to your body language communication. It is possible that your routine habit of shaking hands could risk your getting to understand the nuances of another culture truly. Many hosts in a local region are tolerant. But you may not be aware that your body language habits are misinterpreted simply because you find nothing wrong with shaking hands.
How would you know if your simple social behavior is offensive unless someone tells you? If no one in that new culture says whether something is wrong or frowns, you assume that your practice it’s in order. Not knowing that you are offensive is the challenge. However, the reality of the situation has a way of surfacing. The host citizen may be kind and warm. But he could be expressing in a handshake at that first meeting what he feels if the hold is brief. You may come from a cultural background where shaking hands is a long, drawn out, tight grip. It would not be unusual for you to think the hosts are not welcoming by the brief manner that they are shaking hands.
You need to be observant of the situation. Research before your travels to a new region of the globe. Ask pointed questions to acknowledge the practices and body language communication in the new culture. Pay attention to the details of expressions, eye contact, and body posture to learn what the culture has to teach. If you do not practice wisdom before you step into a new culture, it could be too late to undo the damage you caused in a new human relationship.
Your time to learn new ways could also be limited by your travel itinerary. Before you know it, you reenter the world you left behind where handshakes, along with seven signal systems, form the bulk of communication process.
This article covers all the ways you can analyze someone body language. The first person you start with is yourself because if you aren’t self-aware, it will be very hard to be aware of others. Pay attention to your body in different situations and see how it reacts to the environment. Listen to your voice and trace your emotions to their roots. This can be a lifelong process, but the benefits of self-analysis are even greater than those that come from analyzing others.
Emotions and personality traits are not strictly inward creatures; they manifest physically in sometimes surprising ways. Using your observational skills, you can identify a person’s comfort level, feelings, and even personality by how they move their legs, whether or not they face you, what their eyebrows do, and how fast they talk. Good APs can read tiny facial expressions, known as micro-expressions, and very subtle body movements to gather information. The more you practice, the better you will get at analyzing people.
Remember that everyone is a little bit different, so one facial expression or movement might mean something in one person, and not mean that in another. Bear in mind that people are all unique, so you can’t adopt a “one size fits all” approach.
Thank you again for reading this article!
I hope this article was able to help you become skilled in using body language.
The next step is to apply the lessons you've learned in this article. With regular practice, you can use this form of communication to achieve your personal and career goals. Remember, your actions form the person that you are, in the truest sense.