What you will find when you communicate with others is that body language can convey more meaning than words. They can help you determine whether the other person is listening, if they express interest in your conversation or if they are lying to you. To help you read the body language of anyone you meet here are some things to look for.
Are they confident speakers?
When you watch a successful public speaker, they have charisma and know how to seem more confident, which radiates throughout their speech. Here are some of the behaviors they may exhibit:
- They will use voice inflection to raise their voice to highlight important points.
- The speaker may use loose motions with their hands or arms to illustrate points or animate the conversation.
- The speaker will also have no problems standing perfectly still to deliver a speech.
- Their delivery will also be spot on, as they have the confidence to speak slowly and know how to have a confident body language.
Why this is important is say you meet someone new for the first time. If they exhibit these behaviors, it means they have some self-confidence. Meanwhile, if they shift their weight constantly, talk in a monotone, quiet voice, or use tight motions with their hands or arms, it means they are uncomfortable. This can help you gauge how to proceed with the talk once you discover more about their attitude.
Do they express interest in what you are saying?
It’s easy for someone to pretend they are listening to you because they can ask timely questions that give the illusion they want to know more. However, to know whether they are truly listening look for some of these behaviors:
- They will maintain what actors call a high status. This is where they will keep good posture by having their shoulders back.
- The listener will also keep eye contact throughout the conversation.
- They won’t fidget during your talk.
Conversely, if you notice the listener’s eyes darting across the room, if they sit with their shoulders slumped or if they shuffle in their seats often, it means they are anxious or bored. By spotting these behaviors, it can help you determine whether it is worthwhile to continue the conversation.
Are they competent?
There may be occasions in your collegiate or professional career where you will have the opportunity to interview other people for research projects, partnerships or jobs. To help you determine whether that person is competent, here are some behaviors to study throughout your interview with them:
- When you ask them a question, do they maintain eye contact with you or look up at the ceiling before responding? If they maintain eye contact it shows they have confidence.
- Do they speak slowly and clearly or in a rushed manner?
- Do they scratch their chin or curl their hair during the interview?
- Do they maintain good posture, eye contact and stay still during the interview?
These tips can help you determine how confident the person is. Now it is important to note that job interviews in particular can be high stress situations so some of these behaviors may come just from the environment. Still, it’s important to assess each person based on these, as it can help you find the best fit for your company or the best person for your project.
Are they lying to you?
Honestly, this is a tough one to do because the last thing you want is to find out someone is lying to you. With that said, it is important that you take the time to study their body language as it can help you determine whether they are honest with you. Here are some behaviors to look for:
- When they are speaking to you, are they maintaining eye contact or are their eyes darting everywhere? Typically, those that are dishonest won’t be able to maintain eye contact.
- That person may exhibit nervous tendencies such as putting their fingers near their mouth or their cheeks flush.
- They may also speak rapidly or stammer.
- If you notice their body turns away from you or if they begin to sweat that could also be a give away they are lying.
To be fair, shy people also exhibit some of these behaviors when you speak to them. Therefore, it is imperative that you don’t immediately say that person is lying. Instead, use this as an opportunity to ask more questions and probe deeper to see how the person responds.
Reading body language is a great way to help you understand how that person is feeling. By doing this, it can help you know how to approach others, whether they are interested in you and spot behaviors that might indicate they are dishonest. In turn, this can help you become a better communicator because you can use these cues to understand that person better.