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Body Language: A quick guide…

Could you be spending too much time listening to the words that people speak, when you should in fact be watching out for body language clues?

It is said that more than half of what we communicate in the average conversation is non-verbal. Our bodies are terrible at keeping secrets and can often give away clues through subconscious movements and gestures. This said, by learning to read subtle changes in how others move their bodies when communicating with you, you could gain access to their hidden emotions too.

In fact, reading body language can give you a real advantage in some scenarios…


Okay, so you’ve finally agreed to go on an internet date with someone you have been chatting with. You know the date will be filled with the same introductory questions that most dates are but, by watching your date’s body language, what else can you find out? Being able to gauge the level of your dates interest whilst learning how to put them at ease (if you decide you don’t want to make a speedy escape!) could be easier than you think. For example, someone who won’t hold eye contact with you may be bored or socially anxious – watch out for that. If you decide you like your date, start by mirroring their actions. This will make them feel less isolated and more at ease. Keep your head at the same level as theirs, and make eye contact but not for too long! Lean in close and see if they do the same, if their body is facing yours this could be a sign that they are attracted to you.

Smiling woman


Most of us have read about being conscious of our body language in job interviews, but reading other people’s body language in all business scenarios can give you the upper hand too. Learning how to read clues can literally help clinch that deal, make that sale, or even put your boss at ease in tense situations. Is your client sitting with crossed arms in front of you? Beware, your presentation could be falling flat. Does your colleague position herself unnecessarily behind a table or other object when you talk to her? This could be a hint that she is hostile or reluctant to engage in what you are asking her to do or are explaining. Keep an eye on frequent blinking when chatting to a business competitor, as this can  indicate deceit or lying.

Meeting the In-laws!

The dreaded event in most couple’s lives: meeting the in-laws for the first time. The pressure is on. You want to make a good impression but you are unsure of what kind of interaction will win them over. Are you talking too much? Are they bored? Do they seem happy you’re together? Don’t bother over-analysing the conversations in your head for days – it will be too late by then. On your first meeting, check if your mother in law’s eyes are darting around the room and away from your eyes. This could mean that she is distracted, however she could also be masking her dislike for you. If you feel that she is unsure about you and you want to win her over, try changing the topic of conversation and read her body language with each topic. Is she politically minded? Watch how she engages when you comment on current affairs. Is she a great cook? Talk about her delicious canapés and see whether she stands closer to you or elaborates on her recipes. Try topics that she might like and others that she doesn’t – based on how she responds. Once you have a few topics that she likes, stick to those! You’ll be part of the family in no time.

This may all sound a little sneaky, but when the stakes are high, it could be the one tool you have to pull off a big deal or win over that tricky in-law.

How often do you look beyond the words and pay attention to the body language of those around you?

If you are blind and want tips on how to read non-visual clues with a new love interest read: “How do I know if he likes me?”

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  1. Josh Robbins

    Non verbal communication was apparently a super hot topic back in the seventies when many of the seminal books on the subject (still referenced today) were written. I believe that most of our communication does not come in the form of words, so non-verbals are very important. One warning…cultural differences can change the meaning of those non-verbal clues. This is especially true in the case of personal space issues, gestures, and colors. Nice article.

  2. Jen

    Great tips! There was a TED talks about body language — I forget what it was called but it was really interesting. Looks like eyes are really important. hmm

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