Ground Rules for Accurate Body Language Reading
One of the most common mistakes a rookie body language reader will make is to interpret individual gestures in isolation of other gestures.
For example, when someone rubs their left hand on their right arm it can indicate many things – negative feelings, sore arm, or maybe they are just cold – it all depends on the other gestures they are using at the time.
Another key factor is the circumstances under which certain gestures are made. A classic example of this is ‘the woman in the short skirt’, who sits with her ankles crossed tightly in front of her. Ankle crossing is usually associated with negativity and defense, however a woman with a short skirt may cross her ankles for certain obvious, necessary reasons – i.e. she may not be being negative, she may just be trying to stop people seeing up her skirt.
Remember that practice makes perfect. Body language isn’t always easy to read because there is often so much going on at one time that it’s hard to keep track of it all. My suggestion is that you take 15 minutes each day and dedicate it to reading peoples’ body language. This way in time, reading body language will become second nature.
What Do The Eyes Tell Us?
Often described as the windows to the soul, the eyes can give us great insight into the true thoughts and feelings of a person in any situation.
When someone is feeling positive, when they like the company they are keeping, and when they hear something that they agree with, their pupils will dilate. When someone is feeling negative, when they don’t like the company they are keeping and when they hear something they disagree with, their pupils will contract.
Dilating and contracting pupils are known as ‘micro gestures’ – they cannot be consciously controlled and often go unnoticed by the untrained eye.
Although dilating pupils are often a signal that a person likes you, it is important to read this gesture in context. As we all know, changing light levels also affect how dilated or contracted our pupils become, low light will result in dilated pupils, and bright light will results in contracted pupils. Always look for this micro gesture and evaluate it against other gestures being used by the particular individual.
Used particularly by women, this gesture involves lowering the head at the neck, and looking upwards at the other person. This gesture makes people appear more childlike, and evokes a parenting reaction in both men and women. If someone uses this gesture on you, it is likely that they’d like you to perceive them as ‘cute’ and vulnerable, i.e. in need of care.
Making lots of eye contact is a way to show interest or respect. The more eye contact a person makes with you, the more that person likes you. Studies also show that even if you aren’t initiating the eye contact, the more you look into someone’s eyes, the more romantic and enjoyable they will find your company.
It is important to remember that making too much eye contact early on in a relationship can sometimes make people feel pressured and insecure. If you are trying to make a good impression on someone, build up a slight rapport first, and then gradually increase the amount of eye contact you give them.
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Joanne, thank you for making this available