Getting to Grips with Body Language

Body language is a form of conscious and unconscious non-verbal communication that consists of how we position our bodies, the gestures and facial expressions we make and even our eye movements.

Our Inner Imps send and receive signals about what we are thinking and feeling between us and the Inner Imps of the people we interact with daily, often without us even being aware of it happening – call it some kind of Inner Imp Secret Code if you will. However, just because our Inner Imps are the ones handling things subconsciously, doesn’t mean we can’t consciously learn the code and develop the skills required to influence these signals by controlling this physical language in ourselves as well as how to interpret it when we see it in others.

Learning how to “read” the body language of other people provides us with clues about their (and their Inner Imps’) attitude and/or state of mind, e.g., bored, attentive, amused, excited, angry, contemptuous or embarrassed.

Learning how to notice these things and make use of them in the way we interact with others is a very useful social skill and one it is surprisingly easy to become adept at.

Have a Little Dance

The nearer someone stands to you, the more positive their thoughts are about you. Take a look and consider how closely you’re standing together and test the waters a bit by moving very slightly away. If they follow you, you can safely assume that they find you interesting and feel very comfortable with you. Next, step towards them (again mega slightly). If they step away, you can take it as a sign that they’re feeling a smidge uncomfortable and don’t want the interaction to be any more personal than the original distance. If they stay where they are or move even closer, allow yourself to experience a happy loved feeling coz this person feels very at ease with you. WARNING: Be sure to respect distances and keep things appropriate for your relationship and circumstances.

Get a Head Start

Have a look at how they are holding their head.

Tilted Heavily to One Side? – potentially feeling sympathetic.

Tilted Heavily to One Side with a Smile and Playful Behaviour? – Could well be flirting with you.

Angled with eye or brow movement? – Potentially confused or questioning something you’ve said or done.

Angled with a smile? – Their Inner Imps have found yours to be potentially kindred spirits and they genuinely like each other.

Lowered? – They could be hiding something.

Lowered in response to a compliment? – They may be shy, lack self-confidence, need to think or want to keep their distance. They would probably benefit from pepping up their How to Take Compliments life skill.

Lowered following an explanation? – Unsure of what they’ve heard or thinking about it.

It’s All in the Eyes

Looking to the side? – Nervous,  lying or they’re distracted and their mind isn’t really on you or what you’re saying.

Looking away? – Potential untrustworthy.

Looking at the floor? – Possibly unsure of themselves, often they could also be upset or trying to control an Inner Imp that’s battling with unpleasant emotions or feelings.

A Far Away Look? -They are lost in thought and highly likely not listening. (It could also indicate problems with vision).

Dilated pupils? – The person is interested (but be aware that many drugs can cause this too).

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Are they “mirroring” you? This essential means copying your gestures. If someone mimics you, it generally means they’re trying to establish a deeper level of communication with you because they want to get closer. Make a subtle movement and see if they copy it – just to see!

Arms

Have they crossed their arms? – This is usually a defence posture and their Inner Imps are sub-consciously protecting themselves from outside influences. Beware though, for some people it’s just a habit or it could be that they’re a little self-conscious.

If arms are crossed AND their feet are wide apart? – They’re showing toughness or feeling authoritative.

Fisted or clenched hands? – May be signs of irritation, anger or nervousness.

Hands on hips? – A classic for impatience or a sign that they wish things were over already.

Rubbing their hands or another part of their body? – Could indicate they are reassuring themselves.

Hands behind the back or the neck/head? – Commonly a sign of a laid-back person that’s probably feeling really open to what’s being talked about.

Feet

Foot swinging or tapping? – Can often be a sign of impatience, excitement or that they feel intimidated. This also often indicate hyperactivity or could simply be a habit.

Feet crossed at the ankles? – Relaxed and at ease.

Often, people will position their feet so they are pointing in the direction they want to go. Watch out if they’re pointed away from you!

Conversely, they’re highly likely to be flirting if they touch your feet with theirs.

General

Tucking hair behind the ear? – Is quite common if the person likes you – a way of preening to become more attractive.

Tucking hair being the ear with a frown? – It’s likely they disagree with something you’ve said or are saying.

Narrowed eyes with the eyebrows drawn together? – Is a sign that they are trying to understand something. It also often indicate skepticism.

Confident people tend to excel at eye-contact and have a well-developed, authoritative posture.

Quick talking or mumbling? – Are often signs of nervousness or dishonesty, especially if there’s little or no eye-contact (although this can have medical origins too).

Lip licking? – Liking what they see.

Beware of Cultural Differences

Many “signs” of body language that we commonly think mean one thing may have completely different meanings in other cultures, e.g., in some cultures, looking into someone’s eyes is a sign of disrespect, tilting the head is a sign of respect, showing the soul of the foot is disrespectful, etc. The list is endless so beware.

These are just a few hints and tips about some of the more common ways we communicate with our bodies.

Warning: It’s important to be subtle if you’re observing body language and if you’re tempted to use any of the above to decipher what people’s Inner Imps are sub-consciously talking about, remember that these are indications of possible things not 100% accurate answers.

Personally, I’m crap at reading body language, I always seem to get it wrong. I seem to spend most of my time totally oblivious to anything “subtle” going on around me, but I have to admit that when I do make the effort, I find myself surprised at how accurate some of these things are and I hope they help you.

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