What your body language says about you…

…Well, not a lot actually! We’ve all read the books on body language, and practised on our friends. We’ve all observed conversations that we can’t hear and tried to guess at what the emotions involved are. We’ve all sat in meetings or interviews and started to quake in our polished shoes when the boss’ body language suggests he or she is disinterested.

Here are some definitions of body language that I remember reading:

  • Crossed arms means “defensive”
  • Leaning back in chair with fingers together means “I’m looking down on you”
  • Leaning forward means “I’m interested”
  • Glancing at the clock means “I’m bored”
  • And sure enough all those postures and gestures could mean the listed things. And you could argue that because so many books have been written about these meanings, these definitions have become reality. You could argue that if we don’t mean these things, we should sit or lean or glance differently. Yet is this the most productive way of understanding each others’ cues? How about considering some alternatives:

  • Crossed arms means “I’m cold”
  • Leaning back in chair with fingers together means “I feel at ease with you”
  • Leaning forward means “get out of my office”
  • Glancing at the clock means “5 minutes until I need to take my medication”
  • Are these any less realistic?

    Why not try and come up with your own possible definitions. Be aware of your own body language and try to notice when it does or doesn’t contradict the definitions we’ve all been taught. You’re bound to realise something rather interesting!

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