Humans have multiple ways of communicating with each other beyond verbal communications, including body language. In fact, if you want to really know what a person is trying to communicate, you should watch his eyes, mouth, stance, the tilt of a head and how he holds his arms. The skill of reading another’s body language can be beneficial in business, with your kids, when talking with your husband or wife, and of course, when you are dating.
Very often, a person may attempt to control certain reactions; however, not all body language can be controlled and is often involuntary. In order to truly read another’s body language it is best to interpret as many signals as possible including facial expressions, arms movement, hand movement and leg stance. Some key things to watch when reading body language including the following:
Universal facial expressions that are known around the world include a smile for happiness, a down curved mouth for sadness, wide eyes for fear or shock, a smirk for disgust and a tightened brow and glaring eyes for anger. A smiling face is open welcoming and invites others to interact with a person. A sad face relays to others that the person isn’t at the top of her game and should be approached with ease.
How a person holds her arms is often a clue to how she is feeling about a particular situation. Crossed arms are often indicative of a person being closed off to a situation. Depending on the situation, crossed arms relay stubbornness towards an action, a closed mind to hearing what another is saying and disagreement or may even be a form of self-protection. Generally if a person is standing or sitting with open arms, the attitude is one of openness. This indicates a level of understanding or receptiveness to hearing another’s feelings or ideas.
If you have ever heard the expression “talk with her hands” then you understand the overall power of hand motions. Generally, if a person moves her hands when talking, she is excited and happy. Excited hand movements are very animated and often relay the excitement and happiness of the person speaking via open hands with spread fingers, expressing openness. However, if a person has a clenched fist, much like with crossed arms, they are experiencing frustration, anger, or even sadness.
While leg signals are often the most difficult to fake, they can also be the most challenging to read due to gender and comfort. For instance, a younger woman will sit differently than an older woman due to modesty or it may be a generational difference. Another thing that must be considered when reading a person’s stance is gender. Men, overall, will sit with more open positioned legs.
Beyond these general indications, you should also consider personal space, whether the person is mirroring your actions, and does the person lean in when speaking with you or pull away. If a person is close to you or mirrors your actions and movements, chances are, the two of you are in sync. However, if the person pulls back and raises his eyebrows, there is a good chance he is skeptical of what you are communicating.
Overall, learning to read body language can help your communications. However, just as humans have hundreds of words to mean one thing, there are also hundreds of nuances in every movement we make.