HOW TO DECODE UNSPOKEN MESSAGES

Charlotte Haigh MacNeil reveals how to interpret body language.

Words matter, of course– but we know that whatever someone is saying, or not saying it’s their body language that often reveals a deeper truth. Learning to interpret this is a vital part of having good relationships, says communication specialist Elizabeth Kuhnke, author of Body Language (Capstone, £10.99).‘Understanding body language gives you access to the other person’s state of mind. The more you know what others are thinking and how they’re feeling, the more you’ll be able to choose how to react to them. It’s also important to be able to control the signals that your gestures,posture and facial expressions transmit.

HOW TO DECODE UNSPOKEN MESSAGES Photo Gallery



WHAT DO THEY REALLY MEAN?

Read on to find useful clues to help you interpret common thoughts and feelings

BOREDOM

.Fixated eyes and an unwavering head

..Forced smiles with unengaged eyes.

Jiggling feet, tapping fingers, checking the phone.

PASSIVE AGGRESSION

.Slouched posture with arms and legs crossed can indicate someone’s feeling defensive.

.A trembling jaw, lip biting and even smiling or laughing when being criticised can all suggest they’re trying to control their anger.

ATTRACTION

.The other person is focused just on you and not looking around the room.

.They lean in when you speak, laugh a lot and mirror your gestures.

DISHONESTY

.They try to hold your gaze and appear sincere, but don’t blink much.

.Their mouth is twitching or they’re licking or pulling on their lips. They might also scratch their nose or tug at their ear because lying is stressful, and that causes a rush of blood to certain areas.

.There’s a disconnect between what they say and what they do – for example,someone who’s lying is more likely to nod while saying ‘no’.

INFLUENCING OTHERS

Try these tips to back up your aims.

BE PERSUASIVE

.Mirror someone’s body language – but do it subtly or it can seem like mimicry. It helps you tune into them and shows you’re listening with your full body.

.Use open gestures, like an upward- facing palm or a smile..

.Lean forward as you speak.

BE ASSERTIVE

Make your facial expression gentle, concerned and determined to see things through. Keep eye contact, smile when you’re pleased and frown when angry.

.Keep gestures smooth and relaxed.

.Hold your body upright, with your arms and hands open, showing no threat.

BE CONFIDENT

.Lift your head horizontally and lean forward to show enthusiasm.

.Keep your hands visible and hold them calmly. If you’re worried you can’t control your hands, take notes or eat or drink something, depending on the situation.

.Make hand gestures between your mid-chest and waist level.

BE ATTRACTIVE

.Smile, making sure your eyes are engaged, as well as your mouth.

.Widen your eyes and raise your brows.

.Keep your movements smooth, languid and purposeful.

.Touch the person subtly – try a playful tap on the shoulder.

Q SHELF HELP Q

Each issue, we bring you the best advice from the self-help classics

This month, we look at Who Moved My Cheese?By Dr Spencer Johnson(Vermilion, £9.99).In a nutshell: Most of us find change difficult – and this quirky book explains how to navigate it and achieve your goals. Cheese Is a metaphor for the things you want, whether that’s a relationship, a great job, weight loss or your ideal home. You look for it in what Johnson calls the maze’ – but the cheese keeps moving…A nugget: ‘The fastest way to change is to laugh at your own folly – then you can move on.’

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