How to Read Body Language: Decoding Body Language Cues

Whether you are interviewing a potential employee or have just met someone on the street, knowing how to read body language can make all the difference between making a positive first impression and a negative one. From eye contact to posture and the way someone’s feet are pointing, body language cues can tell you a lot about what a person is thinking and feeling, though it’s important to understand that what follows isn’t a hard and fast set of rules. If you know how to read into these subconscious expressions, you’ll likely be able to better navigate all types of relationships, both business and personal.

De-Coding Body Language Cues

  • Eye contact: One of the most powerful and obvious ways we express ourselves is through eye contact. With our eyes, we express interest, happiness, sorrow, anger, annoyance, boredom, and just about everything else we can feel. In Western culture, eye contact is very important. According to Linda Clemons, plentiful eye contact shows respect, understanding, honesty, and interest. Averting eye contact may signify submission, disinterest, or an inability to focus. Staring, on the other hand, portrays dominance and aggression.
  • Mouth: Surprisingly enough, talking isn’t the only way people use their mouths to convey feelings. Biting or pressing one’s lips conveys anxiety, or the fact that one is holding back their words.
  • Handshake: When first meeting someone, a handshake expresses openness and benevolence. At the end of a conversation, a handshake symbolizes an agreement. A firm handshake typically portrays confidence, while a weak handshake shows insecurity or meekness.
  • Posture: Reading into the way a person carries themselves is critical to understanding body language cues. According to Northeastern University, those who stand straight and tall appear authoritative and confident, while those who slouch portray themselves as insecure, guilty, bored, disinterested, and even weak.
  • Arms and legs: You can easily gauge how well a person is responding to you and your message by the way they use their arms and legs. Crossed arms and legs may show that the person is closed off or disinterested in what you’re saying, while open arms and legs may show a person’s receptiveness toward and acceptance of you.
  • Feet: Interestingly enough, a person’s feet tell a lot about what they’re thinking. Someone’s feet are typically pointing toward the place they want to go. If their feet are pointed toward you, they’re still engaged in the conversation. If their feet are pointed toward the door or in another direction, they’re edging their way out.

Knowing how to read body language is an important skill that everyone can benefit from. Read further into a person’s intentions, level of interest, and connectedness simply by reading their eyes or noticing the way their feet are pointing. Whether you’re considering a new friend, interviewing a potential employee for a construction permit services firm, or looking deeper into a potential romantic partner, developing your skill in reading body language cues is sure to be beneficial. (LP)

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