How To Read and Interpret Body Language

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body languageBody language or nonverbal communication is a strong and often neglected form of communication. Although we instinctively use gestures to signal emotions, we are barely aware of it. Yet, we subconsciously react to these signals when we see them in others.

Understanding body language and using that knowledge can give you a huge advantage over people who don’t pay attention. What must be said though is that everyone is different, meaning not all signs typically associated with a certain emotion are true for every individual out there. The art is to be able to tell based on close observation. It’s a skill, it requires training, here are the clues.

Bodycom has a short quiz that will give you an idea whether you’re instinctively able to read and interpret body language. Once your score is good enough, you’ll receive a complimentary diploma.

So, what can you gain from being able to read nonverbal gestures?

Detect Lies

detect liesOur body speaks the truth. Most people don’t feel comfortable when they lie and their bodies will betray them subconsciously.

Fortunately, the Pinocchio syndrome is a myth and our noses don’t grow when we lie. Rather than the nose however, eyes are a very strong indicator of lies. They clearly display what is going on in a person’s brain. Do they remember something, are they making something up?

2KnowMySelf has an excellent set of articles explaining everything about How to know if someone is lying to you. Similarly, What’s This? has three comprehensive articles on The Art of Lying, which explains body language in part two.

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Gain Respect

respectOther than reading and interpreting other people’s nonverbal communication, you can understand how others see you because of your body language and change it.

The article How to Command Respect at Even Happier explains how you can use posture, things you’re looking at, the way you are sitting, your head, face, and hands to air confidence and competence. A similar article also telling you what not to do can be found on InsideCRMLeadership 101: How to Command Respect through Body Language.

By gaining the respect of others, they will listen to you. It’s not a magic formula for world dominance, but at least that way, you can get your point across. Given both your verbal communication and the points you make are smart, you will eventually become more successful.

Persuade People

Persuation has to do a lot with good communication and inevitably that includes nonverbal communication. Unlike gaining respect, persuading someone doesn’t mean you have to display your confidence, it means you show them that you’re on the same page, you sympathize.

The website Persuasive has a Persuade Someone in 5 Steps guide that makes body language its primary point. In fact, it’s a tool to positively step into the conversation.

Recognize Romantic Sympathy

romanceEver met someone interesting and were unsure whether you could make a move on them? Observing their body language will certainly tell you whether they are interested as well or whether you should rather move on quickly.

The Adult Dating Body Language and Attraction Blog has an article that provides you with 33 Ways to Tell She’s Definitely Interested In You. And wikiHow features an article called How to Make the First Move, which also explains how to react to signs and express your own interest.

What else?

The humorous James Dean Guide to Being a Body Language Bad*ss analyzes Dean’s secret tools. They say he was notoriously insecure, it’s not obvious.

Marc and Angel Hack Life has an excellent list on 25 Acts of Body Language to Avoid, which can serve as a quick reference as to what behavior you have to stop immediately.

Changing Minds has a repository of emotions that can be communicated using body language and detailed descriptions what that might look like. Using Body Language is an encyclopedic collection for those wishing to go into the very details.

How do you use body language to your advantage? Show it off in the comments.

Picture credits: mmagallan, Sauerkraut, Splenetic, duchesssa

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Comments (10)
  • How to Speak Japanese

    Don’t forget that bodylanguage differs from country to country. One gesture that is perfectly OK in one country can be interpreted as obscene in an other.

  • Koerpersprache

    it is important to at least know the basics about body language. Just think about situations like job interviews, where a wrong gesture can disqualify you easily

  • Allen Resha

    This was an interesting read. It gets a Digg in my book FOR SURE. I am now going through the links and checking out the links for further reading. As I am working to start a new phase in my life this is an article that I was looking for and would recommend to others.

    Check me out on

  • Glenn Friesen

    This is why I write things down. Less room for the subjective! :)

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.