Body language is the idea that the physical movements of our body are themselves a language. By knowing it, you can understand what someone else is thinking or feeling but isn’t saying.
It’s important to know the basics of. That said, often it can be overvalued. Many times people’s body language is hard to read, and what means one thing for one person can mean something else for another.
I think body language is something that is very important to be aware of and know the very basics of. Yet it is possible to become attached and place too much value on it.
Ultimately, body language is an important way of many to tell how someone is reacting to what you say, but shouldn’t be over thought.
In general, the listener crossing their arms indicates defensiveness, self-protection, or disagreement. If you say something and the listener crosses their arms afterwards, it is highly likely they didn’t particularly like it, and you need to try to get them to uncross their arms.
For instance, take this example exchange: “I think the website should be bright green.”
Arms cross. “What makes you say that?”
At this point, you should be thinking how to address the internal conflict or disagreement in your listener – (they’re probably thinking, ‘bright green? Eww!) – so try something like:
“Well, bright green can be done well, as seen on financial sites and some specific brands. It is a color that implies success and fits in with our brand…”
But beyond arm crossing, there are very few body language signs that can be generally said to mean one thing or another.
Eyes/face: emotional reactions typically take place in the eyes and face. An old saying is that the eyes are the windows to the soul.
Looking at someone’s face, which you usually do when talking to them, can help you read their emotional reactions. That said, they are often very fleeting. You can say something and get an emotional reaction that is shown for a fraction of a second.
As such, it might be a good idea to be aware of this, but not overthink it.
Legs: some people say that the legs are a very good indicator of what someone is thinking, particularly in the dating scene. They argue that the legs are controlled mainly by older parts of the brain and that they automatically reflect your emotions as long as you don’t intentionally control them.
In that view, the direction of the legs/feet in terms of pointing and placement can be read to mean one thing or another. I believe this is generally true, but hard to do consistently and not necessarily the most valuable thing to think about.
Mirroring is a simple idea. When talking to someone, you should read their body language and copy it. But not immediately, as that would be very weird. If they put their hands together and lean forward, wait a little then do something similar.
It’s as though you are a slow reacting mirror to the other person.
The idea is that doing so subconsciously puts the other person at ease. They get the sense that they are on the same emotional page as you. And it all happens automatically.
This idea is valid in my experience yet absolutely must be done in moderation. People who are too enthusiastic about it strike me as the always a little stressed, “high powered” sales type who may or may not be that successful.
Mirroring is something that is valuable but in moderation.
Then you need to know what it is you are saying. This isn’t always entirely obvious. But usually there is something specific.