(HealthyAccess) – Life would be so much easier if everyone told us exactly what they meant and how they meant it. However, because many people aren’t expert communicators, we need to be adept at reading body language to interpret unspoken messages. While reading facial expressions can be easy at times with people we know, it becomes infinitely more difficult when we’re speaking to someone we don’t know well–and yet, this is often when it’s most important.
Understanding and reading body language is powerful for romantic relationships, job interviews, friendships and life in general. While some people have natural emotional intelligence that helps them pick up on nonverbal cues, many of us may struggle to understand when we’re hearing one thing but picking up on another message entirely based on the person’s physical presence.
Here are some tips for better understanding body language.
#1 Look Into Their Eyes
Eye contact is important for communication in general, but it can also be great for reading body language. Someone who is blinking rapidly may be showing discomfort, while slow blinks could indicate deception. Someone who looks away often and won’t make eye contact could be lying or simply bored with the conversation and looking for an exit strategy.
#2 Pay Attention to Spacing
If we step closer to someone and they step away, we’re likely invading their personal space. Backing away isn’t a sign that someone is comfortable. However, if someone is leaning forward or stepping closer, it could be a sign that they are paying close attention and are engaged in what we’re saying. Paying attention to proximity can give us a better understanding of how the other person is reacting to the conversation.
#3 Open or Closed Posture
Let’s face it: some people just have poor posture, and it may not mean anything. Still, posture can provide a valuable clue to someone’s mental state. If the trunk of their body is open and showing good posture, this indicates friendliness. If someone has crossed their arms or is leaning forward in a slouch, this may indicate that they aren’t engaged or interested in the conversation. This could be due to anxiety, defensiveness, or even anger. Open posture is a green light to continue, and a closed posture may be a red flag that the other person isn’t receiving our message or open for a chat.
If someone is mirroring what we do, that means they are open to connecting with us. Mirroring is a great sign that the other person is engaged in the conversation. If we cross our legs and they cross theirs, that’s mirroring. Look for these subtle cues and consider them a green light for continuing the conversation.
Other people provide us with many clues about how they’re feeling. Paying attention to their facial expressions and physical movement during a conversation can show us if we are being received positively or negatively. But take caution: it’s entirely possible that we can project our own attitude and preconceptions on other people with our body language. If we have an unfriendly, unwelcoming posture and expression, we could see that reflected back and assume it means the other person is being hostile rather than reflecting back our own emotions.
For best results, we can make sure we maintain eye contact, keep an open posture, and have a friendly expression when we’re speaking to others. This helps keep our side of communication clear so that we aren’t projecting on others. By paying attention to the moods we project and attuning to others, we can level up our communication for better relationships.
~Here’s to a Happier, Healthier Life!
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