Warning! Reading body language is like listening to someone. Listed here are the possible meanings of many different body language signs. To avoid getting it wrong, please start with the short section “How Can You Read What People Think?” at the bottom of this page.
When you meet someone for the first time, it takes that person 3 to 7 seconds to make her judgement about you. I do it. You do it. We all do it… Unconsciously.
Basically, we decide how comfortable we are with that person. Remember, we are wired for self-preservation.
In a nutshell…
- perception of a possible pain/danger from that person = not very comfortable
- perception of safety = comfortable.
Once that first assessment is made we adapt our feelings, posture, language, and tone. These first few seconds alone can make or break a relationship whether when influencing someone in a sales or presentation situation, or when flirting with a man or a woman…
And the most crucial body language signal to influence our first impression is the smile. This is also the most recognised signal in every country and every culture.
Smiling indicates happiness… and a friendly attitude… Smiling indicates we want to communicate with someone. It shows interest. But there is much more to it…
Smiling is a learned phenomenon. Young babies don’t smile naturally. They mimic the expressions of those looking at them… But by the time we reach adulthood, it has become a signal critical to making a good first impression.
Smiling also has an actual impact on your physiology… We’ll look at that in a moment. First, let’s look at the 2 main types of smile…
- The Genuine Smile:
A genuine smile involves the whole face including the eyes… More than just the mouth, many facial muscles are in action. The most visible is the tightening around the eyes. This action around the eyes is extremely difficult to fake and is the main signal you want to look at if you think somebody might not be telling you their real feelings.
- The Forced Smile:
Usually used out of politeness… People who put on a smile only use the muscles around the mouth. But the top half of their face remains virtually unchanged. Their smile is also less likely to be showing their teeth. This smile could mean the person is not telling the whole truth.
Do not fake a smile. Research shows that a large majority of people unconsciously recognise the sincerity of your smile simply looking at the top half of your face.
Let’s test this:
How To Read Body Language Easily: Can You Spot the Genuine and the Forced Smiles?
The easiest way to put on a genuine smile is to use your imagination… A few seconds before approaching someone, imagine having a really good time with this person. Or recall a recent situation when you really had a great connection with someone you had just met… this will recall the feelings you had at the time and will naturally make you smile.
Endorphins send a message to your brain that makes you feel good… confident… satisfied.
Your natural reaction when someone is smiling at you is to smile back (remember, you learnt this as a baby). But there is much more to it…
When you smile at someone, they tends to smile back at you – partially unconsciously… and endorphins get released in their body.
So, thanks to the endorphins, what their unconscious mind memorizes about you is “this person makes me feel good” – a great way to break her skepticism and make them trust you.
Now, you see why smiling first is essential and how it can help you greatly when trying to influence someone, or trying to seduce a man or a woman!
- Closed lip smile
–> a fake smile to be polite, or the person is embarrassed by their teeth (this applies to many more people than you may think)
- Whole face smile
–> a genuine smile, indicating honesty and openness to communication
- Covering the mouth (or parts of the face)
–> while you are talking, they could be surprised by what you said
–> tasted something sour or recalling a similar feeling
–> sexual interest
- Swished (when you are talking)
–> listening to you carefully
–> thinking about what to say next
- Lip biting
–> nervous habit showing anxiety
- Looking at your lips
–> if intensely, finding it difficult to understand you
–> if someone of the opposite sex is looking at your lips frequently, they are unconsciously assessing the pleasure they would get if they were kissing you… If you notice other signs of romantic interest in their body language, you may want to flirt back…
The Golden Rule of Reading Body Language: Look for at least
another 2 or 3 signals with the same possible meaning – in
different areas of their body or communication.
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*** How Can You Read What People Think? ***
A single word, by itself, has many possible meanings. In the dictionary, you’ll find several likely meanings for each word.
To know the correct meaning, you simply look at:
- other words in the same sentence and
- the context of the sentence.
Reading body language is as simple. A body language signal by itself can mean many things.
To know which meaning is correct, you need to look at:
- other signals that could have the same meaning (at least 2 or 3) and
- the context of the situation (environment and conversation).
This is the golden rule of reading body language.