Read Between the Lines

Understanding Body Language- Part 1

Reading between the lines has nothing to do with books- Surprise! It’s about reading body language and word cues. It’s comprehending the overall message a person is saying to you, emotionally.

Body language can vary from cutting hand gestures, repetitive shrugs or a subtle hand on the back for encouragement. Raised eyebrows, scratching one’s nose, a tilted head or halfhearted sarcastic laugh are all examples of cues to what’s really being communicated.

It takes some intuitive knowledge of people to understand what all of these cues mean, but most of us perceive cues subconsciously. Hell, most of us participate with cues subconsciously. Have you ever seen an inexperienced public speaker? Before this person takes the lectern, you probably can tell how this person is going to do. Why? You’ll likely see stiff movement, squeezing hands and nervous glances.

If you simply pay attention to body language, it will pop out at you. Your own body language knowledge exists from years of watching cartoons, TV and just living. If I say, “You don’t actually think he’s going to…”, and I raise my eyebrows, most people intuitively understand that raising one’s eyebrows at the end of a sentence suggests, “Fill in the blank“.

For example, you’re at a party and you’re conversing with another guest you just met. They’re looking straight into your eyes and facing towards you, but they soon start fiddling with their keys in their pocket. This person may want to listen, but was supposed to leave five minutes ago. Or they may be desperately waiting for that break in the conversation because they’re hoping to catch the host. Perhaps they’re just nervous in social settings. That’s for the listener to find out. Based on the context it’s likely they’re ready to leave the conversation, but don’t want to be rude.

Reading body language is an act of listening with your eyes. It doesn’t matter that you catch every single little detail. What matters the most is that you see the big picture of everything they are conveying to you. Most important, their body message should match their vocal message.

If you suspect someone is lying because they can’t look into your eyes, they may be hiding something, or they may simply be uncomfortable with confrontation. It helps to know someone’s personality and trends before you jump to a body language conclusion. Relax and observe. Not all body language is a subconscious cue. Someone may have dry skin that day and look anxious as a result.

Remember that the best way to read between the lines is to look at the overall picture of what someone is saying and doing with their body. Does it match? Great! If not, something’s up (one eyebrow raised). Read between the lines.

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One Response

  1. Juh says:

    Oh, do I relate to this! I woke up in the mldide of the night Monday with a horrible sore throat, which, in the grand scheme of things, is a pretty small pain to have, but I felt like I was swallowing razor blades and kept waking up choking on phlegm. Yuck. Yesterday, I did have the luxury of making homemade broth and slowing down, and today I’m feeling so much better, but oh gosh, if I had to be sick somewhere else? I’m SURE the whiny five-year-old would come out in me, too. Hope you’re feeling better soon. Wish I could bring you broth!

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