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Body language is a really important facet of communication, since it’s an expressive form of interaction that a simple text message can’t get across. Since technology has made face-to-face become smaller scale interaction compared to texting or IMing, people don’t see what others facial or body expressions as often. Although video chatting is a good way to remedy this in long distance situations, true in-your-face interaction is what gets across the most emotion and makes people comfortable around each other. It can be hard to decipher what the person’s really thinking unless you see their entire facial or body movements, therefore, knowing body language is an art and a valuable life skill. What influences body language and how can you learn how to read people effectively?

What triggered this thought in me was a news article about how the iPhone recently developed a Body Language App, which can give you tips on- the-go as to what to look for in people’s interactions. That’s crazy. It’s like a tip book for people, yet the fact that it’s on the iPhone is ironic to me – the real way you get experience with body language is by OBSERVING and BEING AMONG PEOPLE. Confidence could come from an iPhone App, yet the real test to learning how to read people is by interacting with people face-to-face, not staring at a mini-computer. Technology has become a crutch, as I’ve said in another blog entry, and I do hope people realize that the only way to truly become comfortable reading people is to talk to people.

Some tips about body language – what to look for (although everyone’s different, there are some universal signs that are important to recognize):

1. How close the other person is to you is a good indication of how comfortable they are around you. The closer they’re leaning, the more they like you. The farther away they’re from you when you’re interacting, the less warmth and comfort there is in the interaction.

2. Head position is extremely important – the more playful it is, the more it could mean interest. Is their head cocked or leaning in towards you? Cocked head means they’re confused or trying to figure out what you’re saying, also depending on eye and mouth movement, for example. If they’re looking down, it could mean shyness or lost in thought, depending on the context of the conversation.

3. Eye contact is a strong indicator of whether or not the person is interested in continuing the conversation. If they’re intently staring into your eyes, it could be a sign of romantic interest, especially if they look away and blush. Physical signs of attraction usually start in the eyes, as your pupils dilate when you’re looking at someone you like (although there are people whose pupils are always dilated, which a condition called mydriasis). Basically, awkward eye contact can be interpreted in many ways, but generally, people’s true feelings are present in eye contact.

4. Are they mirroring your movements? If so, that’s a good sign. When the person you’re with mirrors your body movements, it generally means that they want to be on the same page with you. Being on the same page means having a rapport and a comfortable environment.

These are just some general indications to look out for when you’re talking to someone, especially if they’re new in your life. If you generally feel comfortable around them and can move as you please, that’s a good sign that the relationship (whether friendship or romantic) will work out. Being overly nervous around a person can sometimes give off a bad vibe, so just be yourself in order to convey good body language.

An important thing to remember is to not focus on body language too much or you’ll miss the moment. Thinking too much can make your body language indicate something completely different than you intended. Just go with the flow and be the strong, independent person that you are: let the conversation flow naturally and the comfortable body language will follow.

Read more about body language here.

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