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Body Language Cheat Sheet to 5 Life Situations

Learn to read what people really want by the signals they send

body language, body signs, non-verbal communication

Learning to read someone’s body language is not an easy task. Poker players spend years perfecting their art of reading people because these cues are so subtle. However, once you’re in-the-know, you have the power to steer the outcome of a discussion at work, or the direction of a date, or even how people read you. You can also see how others perceive you by observing your own body language.

Here are five situations you may find yourself in, and how to maneuver them:

1. When you’re giving a work appraisal or having a difficult discussion

Watch out for: minimal facial expressions, little hand or arm gestures, little eye contact or downcast eyes, body physically turned away from you
What it means: they’re showing a defensive mechanism
What to do: Rephrase, or reposition what you’re saying to put the person at ease

2. When at a date

Watch out for: increased eye contact, smiles from the eyes, licking of lips
What it means: he / she digs you
What to do: smile! and engage

3. When someone is talking to you

Watch out for: touching of mouth and noses, crossed legs in a defensive motion, eyes darting to the left, little to no eye contact,
What it means: they’re probably lying
What to do: clarify further with more questions

4. When you’re giving a presentation

Watch out for: glazed eyes, people doodling or writing, tapping on their phones, picking at cloths, slumped in their chairs
What it means: they’re not interested in what you’re saying
What to do: try to re-engage their interest. For example: tell a funny joke, or ask a direct question

5. When giving a job interview

Watch out for: eyes looking away only to look back when answering, head tilted with eyes looking up, fingers stroking chin, hand on cheek
What it means: the person reflecting and thinking about something seriously
What to do: If you’re the interviewer, give them time. If you’re the interviewee, by doing these actions, it shows the interviewer that they’ve asked you a good question.

Of course, not everyone follows the same rules when it comes to understanding body language. Figuring someone out is not just about noticing the body language, but reaffirming the cues. You can do this by getting to know the person better or by asking the right questions. Practise and use what you learn as a guide, not a rulebook, and soon you’ll be able to uncover the mysterious world of human communication.

Are there any body language cues that you’ve picked up lately? What are they? Let us know at the comment section below.

Edited by: The HealthWorks Team
Contributed by: Dr Leow Chee Seng, Human Behaviour Academy

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