Body language can either seal or break the deal in forming a relationship with a person. Too often, the person is very attractive, but his body language can put you off completely. On the other hand, a person may not be visually striking, but the way he carries himself can be very attractive.
Body language is the way our bodies communicate with other people. Our thoughts and feelings are exchanged through gestures and movements. We may consider a lot of these gestures as unconscious, but our bodies react to what is on our mind, and our emotions almost immediately communicate it outwardly.
For example, have you ever walked to the tea corner of the office where you have spotted two familiar colleagues and think you can have a quick chat with them? After about 30 seconds, you feel that you have intruded upon a personal conversation or that you are just not wanted there. Chances are that they formed a closed loop around you, not welcoming you into the group, making you feel unwanted there. To give them credit, they probably would not do this to you every time, but this was their body language then.
Our body language is often more expressive than our words. Indeed, our gestures and subtle movements communicate what our words cannot.
When as a woman you are attracted to a man, and you want to welcome his attention without appearing too forward, playing gently with your hair or biting your lip unconsciously is considered an invitation to express his interest in you. At the same time, if you do not welcome his attention, being absolutely still and gesturing in any manner will do the trick. You could also give him subtle signs of your interest by glancing at the sensual part of his face as indicated in the image below.
Talking about a welcoming attitude, it can be challenging to appear open without being too inviting in a professional or networking set-up. However, in the image below, the woman manages to strike a balance between being open to conversation and meeting people and not inviting unprofessional attention to herself. When you keep your arms close to your body, crossed or otherwise, it indicates that you are reserved, aloof, or just not willing to be a companion at that point in time. If you want to remain friendly with your colleagues of either gender and not indicate the possibility of a romantic interest, use the image above as your guide on where to glance on a person’s face.
Consider the image below.
At first glance, the woman does not appear to have two different expressions. The image on the left appears to be someone who has been in a particular conversation for a while. However, her body language is suggesting that this conversation is now boring her. There is a very slight slump in her shoulders and neck when compared with the image on the right, where she is focussed on the person talking to her.
It is too close to your movie date, and the meeting at work just does not seem to be reaching a conclusion? Avoid posturing like the man in the left image below. Other body language cues that would communicate that you would rather be elsewhere are when you keep checking your watch or touching the cuffs of your sleeve. Although the latter could also indicate that you are trying to calm down your agitation, it is quite possible that a person who touches his cuffs during a conversation suffers from some sort of social anxiety. This indicates impatience and feeling of being rushed to others. The image on the right is one all women are familiar with, a man seated as though he owns the entire room and managing to be insensitive to others’ preferences. Within this same image, if the man were holding his ankle with his hands instead of his head, it could indicate stubbornness and spitefulness.
If you prefer to stand with your hands in your pockets, make sure that you do not curl up your fists inside the pockets as this could convey impatience and restlessness. Instead, keep your thumbs outside the pockets to indicate self-assurance, as in the image below.
Social situations can be challenging, even if you are not an awkward person or do not suffer from social anxiety. How do you greet or bid farewell to someone? Some people are friendly and open, but may not be very communicative through touch, while for others, touch communicates their feelings towards you. There is no universal standard for meet and greet other than handshakes, which can seem too formal or impersonal in certain situations. Do you hug in such situations? While generally accepted as a gesture of friendship and affection, some people may not be naturally inclined to hugging. If the other person pats your back as a form of returning the hug, maybe they are more comfortable with just greeting you with words or need a certain degree of familiarity before they can hug you.
This list is by no means exhaustive or universal, but it does represent the majority of what body language communicates. You are the best judge of what the other person is trying to communicate to you. Use these examples as a guide, but also be open and use your intuition and knowledge of the other person to understand their body language.