How can you best make use of body language? The first step is to build up your powers of observation, gathering as much knowledge as possible when you interact with others.
Looking is the most noticeable way and almost certainly the channel through which you’ll gain most information.
Listen, too, not so much to people’s actual words but to the way those words are said, the way voices sound as people speak.
Your other three senses, touch, smell and taste, can also tell you a astonishing amount: the warmth and moisture of a colleague’s handshake can give you important clues as to how confident he is concerning the meeting; a friend’s body odor will essentially shift if she becomes scared during a horror film; a lover’s taste will change as he becomes aroused.
Donâ€™t Use Body Language To Take Control of Others
Don’t think you can make use of body language to get others to do what you want. People aren’t fools.
If you try applying nonverbal techniques so as to manipulate someone into liking you, then of course they’ll respond to what you do – but they’ll also respond far more strongly to those of your actions that disclose your manipulation.
They’ll register, often automatically, your false smile, your shifting eyes, and your nervous stutter – and will act accordingly. So if you’re expecting to be able to rule the world by means of body language, you’ll be disappointed!
Myths About Body Language
Because body language is such a powerful tool, you require to pay attention when using it – so, before you begin, a few words of caution! First, it’s a myth that body language allows you to read a person similar to a book.
This theory, which was an attempt to ‘alphabetize’ nonverbal communication by defining a single gesture as having a single meaning, was initially fashionable in the sixties. If people injured their nose, that meant they were lying.
It didn’t matter whether they were scratching since their nose itched, because they were nervous, or because nose-scratching was an important ritual in their sub-culture – they were still seen as lying.
These days, we know it’s just not that simple. Body language elements differ in meaning, and they can be understood only in the perspective of a person’s life situation.
Macro-Clues and Micro-Clues
As you become more expert, you’ll be able to notice not only the more clear ‘macro-clues,’ such as people’s gestures or facial expressions.
You’ll also be able to spot the much more subtle and even more attractive ‘micro-clues.’ So, although at first you may spot only the macro-clue of someone’s angry clenched fist, in time you’ll also register the micro-clue of their skin color change when they just start feeling irritated.
With practice, your mastery of micro-clues will let you understand (and even predict) just how those around you are thinking and feeling, and so be one step in advance all the time.