Body Language can be a proof of honesty as well as a tool of deceit. The involuntary cues that come with or without facial expression are strong indicators of how one is feeling about a situation or person, even when words do not agree. UCLA research has shown that only 7% of communication is based on actual words. 55% is body language and the remaining 38% is tone.
Understanding these cues can be an advantage when it comes to reading people but being able to practice them can give you the upper hand by creating comfort, showing confidence, assuring capability or asserting control or power.
In my industry being able to read my sitter can be a valuable tool in order for me to create a safe space and guide them into the stance that will convey what they’re trying to communicate with the specific portrait.
How we react and how we read reaction playing out in front of us has a lot to do with psychology, some of which is nature and some, nurture. Have you ever noticed how someone would cross their arms if confronted with a topic that they are not comfortable with or perhaps, have an alternative view on? Theories indicate that crossing your arms is an indicator of feeling threatened. In a poetic sense you are literally covering your chest which houses your vital organs. On the other hand, we’ve been conditioned to think that crossing arms shows confidence and power while some might say you feel confronted or seem unapproachable.
Because everyone has their own history which comes with unique conditioning triggers and fears, different postures might mean something else to the person next to you or different mannerisms that indicate discomfort, anger etcetera. Facial expressions also play a role. There are some basic cues originating from the primitive brain that you should look out for in order to understand the people around you.
Here are a couple I found very interesting and important to my industry…
Crossing arms and legs shows that the person is resistant to your ideas. It creates a physical barrier between you and that person and suggests that you’re not open to what they’re saying.
Mirroring body language is a sign of approval or attraction. It is something we do subconsciously when we feel connected to the person we’re interacting with.
Posture is vital to communicate power. The brain is hotwired to equate power with the amount of space a person takes up. If you stand up straight, shoulders back you essentially take up more space and when you slouch your form collapses and you start taking up less space.
Continuous nodding indicates anxiety about approval. It usually indicates that a person is worried about what you think of them and unsure of themselves achieving approval in being able to follow your direction.
Not only in my line of work but also in my daily life I think it very important to keep your eyes open for these cues. By understanding what a person is really thinking and being able to respond to that mindfully and appropriately shows respect, allowing a safe space for them to respond accordingly.