Reading others’ body language is innate. You probably don’t even realize you’re doing it every single day. What’s more difficult is being able to notice and readjust your own gestures and habits so as to not send out the wrong message. Here are a few tidbits about body language that are important to keep in mind during social, school, or work situations.
Keep your hands away from your face. When you tell a lie, your body’s natural reaction is to cover your mouth, touch your nose, or rub your neck. These nonverbal cues signal to the person you’re talking to that you may be deceiving them. Though they might not realize why they perceive you as untrustworthy, a gut feeling can be all someone needs to write you off.
Crossed arms make for negative thoughts. Keeping your arms folded makes you more critical of what you’re hearing. Not only that, but you remember less information. Plus, you’ll look defensive and insecure. Try clasping your hands together behind your back instead. This pose has been shown to increase confidence.
Nervous individuals form physical barriers. Have you ever noticed yourself gripping your red solo cup with two hands at a party or grasping your purse when you feel anxious? When we’re uncomfortable, we use whatever objects we can as a barrier. These objects shield us from feeling exposed. This tactic really only serves as a giveaway that you’re feeling nervous.
Show interest with a slow nod and head tilt. Leaning forward and tilting your head is a nonverbal way of expressing your interest in a person or a topic. Nodding encourages the listener and creates a feeling of warmth. Nodding rapidly while someone speaks, however, implies a different message — that you want the speaker to get to the point!
Mirroring creates rapport. If you want to get on someone’s good side, simply mimic their gestures and posture. Copying shows agreement and puts the other person at ease. Strangers or two people at odds with one another will purposely refrain from posing in similar ways.
If you’re interested in the source of this article or just learning more about body language, check out “The Definitive Book of Body Language” by Allan and Barbara Pease.