People say a lot with their body language, usually without realizing it. Knowing how to read these subtle social cues can help you work out what people mean and how they are feeling about certain situations. There are a lot of circumstances where you can use this to your advantage, both at work and in your social life.
Experts spend their whole lives researching the intricacies of body language, and there are so many different things you can pick up on. But you don’t need to be an expert. You just need to learn a few basic tips and tricks. Here’s how to read body language and use it to your advantage.
Common Body Language Cues
There are several simple body language habits that most people do in conversations. Once you learn to spot them and understand what they mean, it can help you a lot.
l Crossed arms and legs – If somebody crosses their arms or legs while you are talking to them, that’s not usually a good sign. It means that they are closed off and not open to what you are saying. Often, people will react positively with their words because they are being polite and want to avoid conflict, but crossing their arms or legs gives you an indication of their real feelings.
l Mimicking body language – When we feel comfortable around somebody, and we feel like we are forming a positive relationship, we subconsciously mimic their body language. So, if you notice somebody uncrossing their arms at the same time as you or sitting in a similar position, that’s a good sign.
l Good posture – A person’s posture tells you a huge amount about their attitude and feelings. If people have a good, open posture and they stand with a strong pose, they are likely feeling confident and accomplished. But if people are hunched over, and they have a very closed posture, they feel the opposite.
l Eye contact – Most people know that lack of eye contact tends to indicate that somebody is lying. However, because this is so well-known, a lot of people will overcompensate and maintain eye contact for uncomfortably long periods. When a person is talking to you, too little or too much eye contact shows that they are being dishonest.
l Raised eyebrows – We raise our eyebrows when we feel surprised or scared. It’s quite a big motion and not one that happens naturally in a casual conversation. If you see somebody do this, it’s likely that they’re very anxious or uncomfortable, or something has caught them off guard.
How Can You Use This To Your Advantage?
It’s fairly easy to notice all of these cues when interacting with people, but how can you use this to your advantage?
The best way to use body language cues is in social situations. When you meet somebody new, look out for things like their posture and whether they cross their arms and legs to see whether they like you or not. Be aware of whether people are displaying anxious body language too. If you pick up on somebody being anxious in a social situation, you can adjust the way that you approach them to help them feel comfortable.
You can also use body language to help you in games and contests. If you’re playing online bingo slots, you won’t be able to use these tricks, but if you are in a casino at a poker table, body language cues can tell you a whole lot of useful information. Watch people when they look at their cards, and if you notice things like a slight hunching over or deflation of their posture, that could indicate disappointment. But they might straighten up slightly or raise their eyebrows a little without noticing, and that tells you they have good cards. Professional players are good at hiding these cues, but amateurs will often do it without realizing it.
Finally, you can use body language to get ahead in your career. If you are applying for jobs and attending interviews, for example, it’s good to have a sense of how you are doing. You can even mimic people’s body language to help form more of a good impression and boost your chances of getting the job. When it comes to things like salary negotiation, too, you can read the body language of your employer to work out what a reasonable amount to ask for is.
People think that you need to study for years to be able to read body language, but that isn’t the case. By looking out for these simple cues, you can understand what people mean.