Educating yourself on the keys and cues to body language can be a life changer. Imagine being able to look at someone and know their true feelings, no matter what the situation, no matter what you just said or asked.
Early on I understood the ability to decode body language was a powerful tool. I also learned some painful lessons. The most painful of those is now one of my mantras; Be absolutely sure you want to know the answer to the question before you ask it. Here’s how and where you start…
The approach I suggest all body language newbies take is this: Begin slowly. Observe. Just observe.
Watch what people are doing. Watch how they act when they order something. Watch how they act and what they do while they wait for the order.
Watch someone who is standing by themselves in the mall or at the airport or in a parking lot. Are they waiting on someone? If you think so, why do you think so?
Are they waiting for something to happen? Why do you think that? Get used to watching how people look and act when there is nothing at all happening.
THAT is the first step and THAT is where your learning will begin.
These things are happening around you all day every day. However, just as you don’t sit around and watch human beings be human beings, you’ll notice nobody else really does either.
If by chance you notice someone doing that, let me guess… You’re outside of Walmart… and you’re looking at my mother. She just can’t get enough of watching people being people.
Continue observing the person, or the people you’ve been observing. See what happens when something is introduced into that scenario. Do they see someone they know?
What do they do as they see the person getting closer? Do they straighten up? Do they get excited and put their hands together and sort of pop-up on the balls of their feet a little?
What if there’s a loud noise because somebody accidentally drops something? When that happens what does the person you’ve been watching do? Do they jump, laugh, get angry, what do they do?
Here’s a short-list of cues to observe as you begin educating yourself about body language.
Look for and try to notice these:
1- If you see someone from work or a neighbor while you’re at a restaurant, a store, or the airport, watch their eyebrows when they spot and recognize you. You’ll see what’s called an “Eyebrow Flash”.
The eyebrows will go up and their head will come forward just a bit as they smile. That Eyebrow Flash is the recognition cue you will see when anyone who knows you, that you haven’t seen for a while, wants you to see them and connect with you. That’s the big version that’s easy to see and easy to decode.
This may seem insignificant now, but in a later post we’ll go over the tiny, micro-version of that and why it’s important to know it when you see it.
2- As you stand talking to someone who is standing in front of you or close to you, casually take a look at where their feet are pointing. Are they pointed toward you? Good. You have their attention.
Is one foot pointed toward the door or away from you? Not as good. Are both feet pointed away from you? Not good at all. They’ve got to leave or are not as interested as they may seem.
End the conversation quickly. Most likely they’re being nice or don’t know how to end it themselves.
3- If you are sitting with 3 of your coworkers or fellow students, do you see one of them rub their hands together slowly or rub their hands back and forth on their pants?
Do they push on one of their legs? Does their leg begin to jiggle when you ask a question or make a statement? Or does their jiggling leg stop when you ask a question or make a statement?
These are signs of discomfort. They ease that discomfort or stress by doing any or all of these things. In a later post, we’ll go over more of these de-stressers and I’ll show you how and where to find the tiniest of them and why you’d want to do that.
As you become a proficient observer, no doubt you will begin to notice the rhythms and patterns that most people follow when they are doing the same things.
Are you aware that you do some of the same things we’re talking about observing in other people’s behavior?