Being able to read the general body language of people correctly can be very helpful to become actually compassionate and caring. It can also help you a lot in professional as well as personal life by making you more understanding to the feelings of the other person. However, before we get to how to read general body language, we would like to highlight on some basic rules in this regard. Reading body language might be complex and there is more than one cue that you need to note in order to interpret the mind of the person correctly. Wrong interpretations of body language can do more harm than good. Hence be careful whenever you are trying to read something more about a person from his or her body language and not from the words spoken. Whenever you are trying to interpret what a person might be telling you unconsciously through body language keep the following things in mind,
The first rule – Consider the whole picture
When you are interpreting the signs, it is important that you take the whole picture in consideration. If a person is showing signs of indifference, it might be because he thinks himself to be superior, or he is just careless or maybe he is upset with something else in his life that is making him to behave indifferent. So, to make a decision about a person by reading his or her body language, always look at the whole scenario and not only at the sign exhibited at the present moment.
While reading the body language of a person always consider the social factors, the personality of the person, the whole setup as well as the verbal behavior of the person. All these information might not be available always but in most of the cases you can have at least some of this information to make your understanding of body language of a particular person better and more accurate.
So, when you are judging the body language of a person take the total scenario in consideration including all the above factors and then only arrive at your conclusion. Making false impressions about people, only because they exhibited some particular body language at some point, is certainly not a wise thing to do.
The second rule – Consider individual differences
The second thumb rule of reading body language is keeping in mind that every person is most expected to have their individual differences when it comes to exhibiting body language. To read the body language of a person accurately, you will need to study the person at least for some time. You just cannot infer the body language of a person and come to a conclusion seeing him or her just for few minutes, unless it is about flirting or attractions.
It is important to keep in mind that often people who are not that honest in their life try to master the art of hiding their true body language. So, in order to be able to exactly interpret the unspoken words it is important that you know more about the person and if he can be the one who can give false signals to win your trust.
For example, if a person is not making eye contact while talking with you or batting his eye lids while telling you something or if his mouth and lips seem to have gone dry and his palms seem to be sweating, you might directly infer that the person is lying. However, as these body languages directly point to the dishonesty of a person, a tricky person might master the art of hiding all these signs. He might make more stable eye contacts with you while talking and do not show any sign of anxiousness at all.
The third rule – Consider cultural differences
For reading body language keeping in mind the cultural differences is important. What might be normal or usual in your culture, might mean something different in another culture. The cultural differences in body language are very prominent amongst people from different parts of the world. While in some culture a simple touch on the hands can mean just a friendly gesture, in some other culture it might indicate a serious sign of interest of the person for the other. The same way, in Finnish culture making eye contact with a person even before they start to talk signals approachability but at the same time, direct eye contact with a person can be inferred as anger in the Japanese culture.
So, when you are picking the non-verbal cues, it is important that you keep in mind the cultural differences of the people. You can also note differences in the body language amongst people belonging from different social strata but the same country. Body languages can also differ considerably between men and women. So, when it comes to reading body language it is important that you consider all the things and not just a part.
To start reading body languages it is important to observe a person closely. It is best to study him or her for few days and if possible also to collect more information about his or her background before coming to any conclusion. If you already have some idea about the character, nature and culture of the person, you can start reading his or her body language right away but always make sure to check more than one signs just to be on the safe side.
Some common body languages to understand people better
To become caring and compassionate to the people around you it is really important to be able to understand the emotions of people that they often try to hide. Being able to read the emotion of people through their body language can also be very helpful in your personal life and relationships. It is important to keep in mind that the emotional expressions vary extensively between men and women.
- Crying is a very common emotional expression and it can mean more than one thing. If an adult person is crying or trying to control his/her tears in a public setup, it indicates an emotional break down for the person.
- Crying when completely alone and the person is not aware that someone else might be listening to him or her, is also a sign of emotional breakdown.
- Crying can also be a sign of happiness. If a person is crying and smiling or laughing at the same time it means extreme happiness or joy
- However, crying can also be used as a way of winning over something, but it is not usually applicable in public set ups.
- Anger is another primary emotional expression that can say a lot about a person. Inwardly drawn brows with a tight lipped mouth and wide eyes expresses anger clearly.
- Crossed hands are the other signal that makes it clear that the person is not happy with you or is closing himself off.
- Anger can also be decoded by the gaze of the person. If he or she looks at you with wide open eyes and dilated pupils it can certainly indicate anger. At the same time, wide open eyes, with dilated pupils and a light smile on the face can indicate a false anger and closeness between the two people.
- Increased movement of the facial muscles as well as the hands and legs generally indicates anxiety.
- If an individual is blinking more often or making some facial expressions that do not convey any other sense, it can indicate that he or she is anxious.
- Not being able to find the right place to place the hands or not being comfortable with any leg position resulting into frequent movement of the legs and hands also indicates anxiety.
- Fiddling the hands or tapping the feet unconsciously also shows that the person is anxious or worried.
- It is often very simple to catch the signs of embarrassment from the body language of a person. However, there can be differences depending on the social position of the person.
- Averting the eyes quickly or turning the head away coupled with a controlled or nervous smile is the most common combination of body languages exhibited by people when embarrassed.
- If an individual is looking down at the floor or trying to do something with his or her leg and seeming to focus on that, most probably he is embarrassed or shy or trying to hide his feelings.
- Pride or confidence is mostly exhibited through body language only and it is a body language that can be very easily interpreted.
- Women trying to show pride or in control often place their hands on their waist or side of the hips. Men also do the same to assert confidence and dominance.
- Tilting the head backwards with a little smile or grin on the lips is the other body language that asserts pride or confidence.